Former welterweight world champions know it's now or never tomorrow night on FOX if they hope to make a move towards contender status in a stacked 147-pound division.
Devon Alexander admits he has plenty left to prove Saturday night.
As good as it felt for Alexander to drop Walter Castillo and get in 10 rounds November 21, the former junior welterweight and welterweight champion understands that his 10-round, unanimous-decision win wasn’t going to change skeptics’ opinions of him.
Victor Ortiz isn’t considered an elite welterweight anymore, either, but beating the onetime WBC champ would be a significant step in Alexander’s comeback because it’ll move him into position to face a top 147-pound opponent in his following fight.
The St. Louis native’s fight against Ortiz will be Alexander’s second appearance since completing treatment for an opioid addiction that was largely responsible for keeping him out of the ring for two years.
“I don’t think I proved too much to people [against Castillo] because people are still gonna have their doubts,” Alexander said. “I’ve seen people say, ‘OK, [Castillo] was an average fighter. I wanna see him in with the top guys.’ So this victory over Victor Ortiz is gonna put me in position to fight a top guy and that’s what I plan on doing.”
Ortiz (32-6-2, 25 KOs) also seeks what would be a career-saving victory against Alexander (27-4, 14 KOs) in a 12-round main event on FOX (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) from the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas.
The powerful southpaw is just 3-4 in seven fights since he defeated Andre Berto to win the WBC welterweight title in April 2011. None of Ortiz’s three wins since he overcame two knockdowns to beat Berto by unanimous decision have come against ranked welterweights.
Alexander’s last noteworthy win was a unanimous-decision victory over Jesus Soto Karass in June 2014. He’s just 31 years old, as is Ortiz, and hasn’t been knocked out in nearly 14 years as a pro.
“I’ve knocked out a few people that haven’t been knocked out before,” Ortiz said. “And I’ve ended some careers [of fighters] that haven’t been knocked out. So hell yeah, [knocking out Alexander will] definitely put a question mark in people’s heads.”
Ortiz who resides in Tarzana, California has lost by knockout or technical knockout five times, including a fourth-round knockout defeat to Berto in their rematch in April 2016. Alexander has stopped just one of his past 11 opponents, yet expects to surprise Ortiz with his power.
“I shock a lot of people with my power,” Alexander said. “When you get in there, you’ll see. So hopefully, he’s taking my power and my speed lightly and he’ll come in there all reckless, thinking he can overpower me. Then he’ll be in for a rude surprise.”
“ I’ve knocked out a few people that haven’t been knocked out before. And I’ve ended some careers [of fighters] that haven’t been knocked out. So hell yeah, [knocking out Alexander will] definitely put a question mark in people’s heads. ” Former Welterweight World Champion Victor Ortiz
Even if Ortiz isn’t underestimating him, Alexander is confident he can knock out Ortiz or make the enigmatic ex-champion quit. Alexander thinks Ortiz “still has something left” and considers him dangerous, but feels his mental strength is a significant advantage over Ortiz.
“He has had a weird career and a lot of ups and downs, and twists and turns,” Alexander said. “I’m looking to exploit that, too, because you’ve gotta be mentally strong in boxing. You’ve gotta be mentally there and if it’s not going your way, you can’t just mentally check out. If the guy’s getting the better of you, you have to go to the drawing board and come up with a plan B and a plan C.
“Victor Ortiz is gonna be a tough opponent, so he’s gonna come ready. My job is to follow my game plan, put some hurt on him, let him feel this power and do my job, do what I do best, and that’s win.”
Like Alexander, Ortiz is determined to capitalize on what could be his last opportunity on a big stage. He, too, remains in his physical prime and believes he can compete with some of boxing’s best welterweights, the likes of IBF champ Errol Spence Jr., WBA/WBC champ Keith Thurman and former champions Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter.
“In the next few years, I will reign as world champion again,” Ortiz said. “[My first reign] was short-lived, off my championship that I captured. The world saw it. I still remember it like it were yesterday. I’m not satisfied. I’m not content. So I’m coming for everything.”
Whatever transpires Saturday night, Alexander and Ortiz are thankful that they’ll box before a huge audience on free TV. Alexander is particularly appreciative of this chance because his opioid addiction nearly ruined his career.
“After going through my ordeal the last couple years, to get back on the main stage, it’s where every fighter wants to be,’’ Alexander said. “I’m taking it all in and making sure I’ve crossed my T’s and dotted my I’s, to make sure I look good come fight night, because that’s all that matters. You can do all the talking, you can say what you’re gonna do. But at the end of the day, you’ve gotta get your hand raised. So that’s what I plan on doing.”
For a closer look at Ortiz vs Alexander, visit our fight page.