Welterweight titlist Devon Alexander thought he would be making his second title defense against England's Amir Khan. Instead Alexander will settle for facing Shawn Porter in a much lower-profile bout, ramping up speculation that Khan will wind up as the May opponent for pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather.
Alexander-Porter was finalized Friday and will take place Nov. 30 at the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com.
Schaefer said he also finalized a fight between junior featherweight titlist Leo Santa Cruz and Cesar Seda, which will serve as the co-feature on the Showtime-televised card.
Alexander has had no luck getting the bigger names he was supposed to face into the ring with him this year. In May, he was due to fight top British contender Kell Brook, but Brook withdrew on a month's notice because of a stress fracture in his leg and Alexander wound up facing an unknown replacement in Lee Purdy, who he dominated en route to a seventh-round stoppage.
After that fight, Schaefer said he was going to match Alexander with Khan, the polarizing former junior welterweight titlist.
For months, they were on track to meet Dec. 7 in a fight Schaefer was so sure would be finalized that he flew to Dubai to meet with investors interested in bringing the fight to the Middle East.
Although the deal did not work out, the fight was going to take place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Alexander, 26, of St. Louis, and his trainer/manager Kevin Cunningham had already begun preparing for Khan, also 26, who had opened training camp with Virgil Hunter in the Bay Area.
Then rumors began to circulate earlier this month that Khan was not going to sign because he instead was going to be Mayweather's next opponent.
Mayweather's camp denied this; adviser Leonard Ellerbe told ESPN.com that the talk was nothing but rumors. Khan also issued a statement that read: "Team Khan would like to dispel recent reports that Amir Khan has pulled out of a potential matchup against Devon Alexander on Dec. 7th, taking up a fight against Floyd Mayweather in May of next year instead. Contrary to this story, Amir Khan is currently in training camp in San Francisco with the aim of fighting again in December against Alexander once an agreement can be reached."
But Cunningham didn't buy the story, telling ESPN.com at the time, "I've been told by my people the Khan situation is probably not happening, so I don't know what they're talking about. ... As far as I'm concerned, Khan is putting that statement out to make it look like they have the intent to fight Devon, but at this moment we still have no deal. They're not going to keep screwing around with us. I think the statement is a bunch of BS and that he don't want to fight Devon."
Sure enough, Khan declined to sign for the fight and won't fight for the rest of the year, leaving Alexander to face Porter in a much lower-profile title defense.
Schaefer would not give a reason for Khan's withdrawal and would not talk about the Mayweather rumors either.
"I am saying [Alexander-Khan] is not happening and I'm going to be exploring some other opportunities for Amir," Schaefer said. "That's all I am prepared to say and I have nothing to say about Floyd Mayweather.
"But Amir wouldn't have gone to training camp if it wouldn't have been to get ready for Devon Alexander. There is no question he was planning on fighting Devon and we were planning on the fight. Now Team Khan and me are exploring some other opportunities. Whether they happen or not, I don't know."
So Alexander now will face Porter (22-0-1, 14 KOs), 25, of Akron, Ohio, who is certainly not the caliber of opponent he was expecting to face.
"Devon is a pro and when he realized the Khan fight was not going to happen, he was OK. He is the kind of fighter who fights anyone. We have some of the other 147 pounders who were busy with other fights over the next two months, so we can see the winner of Alexander-Porter fighting the winner of some of the other fights."
Porter struggled to a debatable 10-round draw with faded former lightweight titlist Julio Diaz last December but has won two fights since, including a decision against Diaz in a Sept. 12 rematch.
"Shawn Porter wanted an opportunity for a big fight and here it is. Let's see what he can do," Schaefer said. "This is his chance. I believe in giving fighters opportunities. He has a chance at a world title and I'm sure he will make the best out of it. I think he deserves a shot. I try to give our guys an opportunities to fight for a world title if I can. I can only give him them an opportunity. It's up to them to capture the moment and show the world what they can do."
Santa Cruz (25-0-1, 15 KOs), 25, a Mexico native living in Southern California, won a bantamweight title in 2012, made three defenses and then moved up in weight in May. In August, he knocked out Victor Terrazas to win a junior featherweight title and will be making his first defense against Seda (25-1, 17 KOs), 27, of Puerto Rico.
Seda's lone defeat came in his only other world title fight, a unanimous decision loss in Argentina to Omar Narvaez in 2011. Since then, Seda has won five consecutive fights.