Former two-division world titleholder discusses Saturday's PBC on FOX showdown against Andre Berto, where he thinks a big win would put him in the stacked welterweight division and why he feels better than ever.
Former two-division world champion Devon Alexander is approaching every remaining fight in his pro career with a must-win urgency, or, in his words, “As if it could be my last.”
Alexander (27-4-1, 14 KOs) is riding a two-fight unbeaten streak into an a Saturday night clash with two-time 147-pound titleholder Andre Berto in the main event of a FOX-televised card (7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT) at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.
A 31-year-old southpaw from St. Louis, Missouri, Alexander is making his third ring appearance in nine months after an absence of more than two years due to an opioid addiction.
“The Great” is coming off a draw with former titleholder Victor Ortiz in February that many believe he deserved to win.
Having reviewed Berto’s fights with longtime trainer Kevin Cunningham, Alexander likes his chances to dominate a man with whom he shares common opponents in Ortiz and former welterweight champion Shawn Porter.
What are your thoughts on returning to the New York City area, where you’re 3-1?
I love fighting in New York and I’m excited about returning. My first fight in New York was on pay-per-view on the Roy Jones-Felix Trinidad undercard in Jan. 2008.
I dominated a unanimous decision over DeMarcus Corley, who was a left-handed former champion, so that was like my coming-out party.
Of course, I went on from there to win a world championship at 140 pounds over Junior Witter [Aug. 2009]. After I beat Marcos Maidana in my 147-pound debut [Feb. 2012,] I came back to New York.
That’s when I beat Randall Bailey [Oct. 2012], who was a hard-punching fighter. I lost my last fight and my championship there against Shawn Porter, but I’ll resume my winning streak against Andre Berto.
Are you at full strength following your personal issues?
Yes I am, and at this point in my career, I'm approaching every fight as if it's my last. Every fight from here on out, more than ever, is going to be meaningful and have an impact on what is next for me.
I’m looking to keep my comeback streak going. Everything that I’ve experienced is motivation. That’s just where my head is. So this is business, one for the books.
Are you riding positive momentum off the Ortiz fight despite it being a draw?
I thought I beat Ortiz, so this is my second straight attempt at showing people what I have left against a quality former champion. I have to win this one in a more convincing fashion. Like with Ortiz, we go back a long way but we have never fought.
I've got one mission, and that's to beat Berto, and I’m 100-percent focused on accomplishing that task. This is primetime for me, and I have to show people what I still have left, that I'm still on top of my game and one of the best in a stacked division.
Do you have any history with Berto?
Yes. I know Berto very well. Berto and I go back ... to the amateurs, but we’ve never fought. But there are times where I have envisioned being in the ring with him, so I’m very excited about this fight.
“ This is primetime for me, and I have to show people what I still have left, that I'm still on top of my game and one of the best in a stacked division. ” Former two-division Champion Devon Alexander
Is there anything to be gained by your mutual fights against Porter?
Shawn Porter and I are two different fighters, and Berto took a lot of punishment against him, being dropped three times more than a year ago.
Berto may have declined since losing to Porter, but my mentality is to treat him like he’s still the killer that he was 10 years ago when he first won the title.
What about Ortiz and Guerrero?
I have a much different style than Robert Guerrero and Victor Ortiz, but, again, I'm looking at Berto as if he has lost nothing. So I’ll be technically sound, pick my shots and break him down.
Is your southpaw stance a key factor in this fight?
I believe that it is, but Berto is still a dangerous, durable fighter, so we’re taking this fight very seriously and studying all of that to see what we’ll need to do. My style is totally different than Guerrero’s and Ortiz’s. Both of them are come-forward fighters. Now, I can come forward, too, or I can box.
I’m versatile and have a nice jab and speed and combinations to go with that. If they were able to hit Berto, then I’ll be able to hit Berto all night. Both of them gave him trouble, so imagine what’s going to happen with a boxer-puncher. I’ve got pop, too, so once I catch Berto right, he’s gonna fall.
So is a stoppage of Berto possible?
I’ll go in with a strategic game plan, and once he feels the power, if he’s able to withstand that, then we’re gonna beat him up all night.
Once we start to see a weakness in the chin, and the weakness in his legs, then we’re gonna go in for the kill. We’re going to be really aggressive and see how he takes the punishment.
Beyond Berto, what fights are attractive to you?
I would love to fight Keith Thurman. He’s wide open when he punches, so he’ll get exposed. I know he doesn’t have an opponent, yet, so I hope that he stays free. After this victory over Berto, we can set up a mega-fight for later this fall or early winter.
Keith Thurman was a fight that I always wanted, always thinking he’s too sloppy and feeling that skills, timing a rhythm would throw him off. It’s the same thing with a Danny Garcia. I would love to fight Danny Garcia.
I see a lot of flaws in Garcia that can be exposed. Thurman does use his legs, but he jumps in with wide punches and leaves himself wide open. Porter wasn’t able to capitalize on it in their fight, but with smarts, skills and technique, I can capitalize on all of the mistakes that Thurman and Garcia make.
Errol Spence can definitely fight and has the power and skills, but anybody with legs and who is ready to box all night can beat him. So I’ll come up with a tremendous game plan for him. I'm sure they all believe they see flaws in me.
All of those fighters are beatable, after the way that I’m planning on beating Berto, they won’t be able to deny me. I’m feeling rejuvenated, motivated and ready to turn in a peak performance. I’m feeling like the guy who beat Marco Maidana a few year ago, so I don’t care who I fight, just line them up.
For a closer look at Berto vs Alexander, check out our fight page.