Devon Alexander wants to erase the lasting image of being outclassed in his recent loss to Amir Khan last December by looking unbeatable Wednesday night against journeyman Aaron Martinez.
Martinez (19-4-1, 4 KO’s) is coming off a disputed split-decision loss to Robert Guerrero (33-3-1, 18 KO’s) in June, in which Martinez dropped the “Ghost” in the fourth and took the former welterweight champ to the well and back for ten rounds. The assumption was that Martinez was brought in to lose against Guerrero to help the Ghost rebound from a damaging loss to Keith Thurman.
He lost the fight but gained an opportunity to headline another PBC event this time on ESPN against Devon Alexander, who admits he is at a crossroad in his career.
“I know Aaron Martinez is going to come to fight,” Alexander said in a media workout before the fight. “He knows my record and that I’ve beaten some of the best. So he knows it’s going to be tough for him, and I’m sure he’ll bring his best into the ring with him, but it’s not going to be enough.”
Alexander (26-3, 14 KO’s) is a former two-division title holder, but his three losses came when he rose his level of competition to Tim Bradley, Shawn Porter and Khan. He owns back-to-back decision wins over Argentine sluggers Lucas Matthysse and Marcos Maidana but seemed to be bopped back to the drawing board by Shawn Porter in 2013, when Porter steamrolled through Alexander to win his IBF welterweight belt. He appeared to be back on track after winning a ten round decision against gatekeeper Jesus Soto Karass in 2014 but then came the hazardous loss to Khan at the end of the year. He finds himself picking up the pieces of his career that was shattered by the lightening fisted Khan.
“Losing is not an option anymore,” Alexander said. “In my loss to Amir (Khan), it wasn’t anything that he necessarily did to make me lose. All the losses that I’ve had I think I could have just as easily won those fights. This is a mental game, and I wasn’t there mentally for those fights.”
Martinez’s style should be tailor-made for Alexander, who is a strict boxer and is at his best when he can control the distance and pace of a fight with his 70-inch reach. Martinez is also not a terribly dangerous puncher, he has only four knockouts and is more of a volume-punching wear-you-down type fighter as opposed to a one-and-done shooter, so he isn’t likely to stop Alexander with a single punch. Although Martinez did turn heads, particularly Guerrero’s when he busted the Ghost with a series of hooks that sent the former title-holder to his knees.
“It felt good to knock down Guerrero because everyone underestimates my power,” Martinez said. “I fought a lot of strong guys and they’ve felt my punches.”
Martinez has also shared the ring with Jesse Vargas and Josesito Lopez, both were losses. The latter stopped Martinez in the fifth after Martinez turned his back to shield himself from an onslaught by the “Riverside Rocky”, and was hugging the ring post as referee Jack Reiss stopped the fight. Ultimately Martinez is 2-3 in his last five fights and is five years older than the quicker, more polished Alexander, who is in desperate need of a win.
“I had to focus and then re-focus on how much this (boxing) means to me,” Alexander said. “Everybody needs to reprogram themselves once in a while to help you remember what’s important.”
This will be Alexander’s third reprogramming and it needs to be successful if he wants to recapture the momentum he collected as a junior welterweight and welterweight champ.