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"Building" Bradley and Alexander can only happen with one fight

Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

I know that on the surface what I'm about to say sounds stupid and naive. I am fully aware of that. But the surface isn't what I'm trying to get to here.

Lem Satterfield of FanHouse has been all over the Timothy Bradley-Devon Alexander situation, providing excellent coverage. Truth be told (and this is not the point of what I'm writing here), Alexander sounds 100% ready, while Tim Bradley sounds a bit more reserved.

But Lem's latest piece on the war of words probably shut the door on the fight happening in July, at least. Both HBO's Kery Davis and Bradley's promoter Gary Shaw feel that the fight needs to be "built" more. I call hogwash, but let's see what they had to say first.

"I would love see Bradley versus Alexander happen, but the key is to do it at the right time -- when the fight's big enough so that the winner comes out and gets the elevated status he deserves for winning a fight like that," said Davis, who could not be reached on Monday.

"But the sport's public has to know how big and great of a fight that is, so therefore, we have to build it a little bit," said Davis. ...

Shaw agrees.

"I just think that that fight should built more, and that they should each fight a couple of more fights to make the fight more meaningful and put them on more of a collision course," said Shaw.

"Building" this fight won't do anything. Let me explain.

There is nobody they can fight right now at 140 where a win will actually make Bradley or Alexander a bigger star than they are now. Building big fights works when the fighters are already well-known. Bradley and Alexander aren't. Their biggest fight is one another.

The other top 140-pound contenders are:

  • Marcos Maidana, who just pulled out of a fight with Bradley.
  • Amir Khan, who is not going to fight either of them.
  • Paul Malignaggi, who has a fight with Khan on May 15.
  • Nate Campbell, who is old and has a fight on May 15 with Victor Ortiz.
  • Lamont Peterson, who already lost to Bradley.
  • Kaizer Mabuza, who nobody knows.
  • Andriy Kotelnik, who nobody cares about.
  • Juan Manuel Marquez, who is fighting back at 135 and has a fight on July 31 with Juan Diaz.
  • Zab Judah, who, you know, let's be serious.
  • Joel Casamayor and Joan Guzman are fighting on July 31.
  • Junior Witter, who's lost to them both.
  • Ricky Hatton, who isn't going to be fighting anything any time soon.

There are a few other guys, and none of them add up. Nobody that Bradley or Alexander can fight or beat on July 17 and August 7 will do anything to make a Bradley-Alexander fight bigger than it already is. The real truth is, the 26-year-old Bradley and 23-year-old Alexander are two young, exciting fighters that need each other immediately. A good fight becomes a rematch. A rematch makes for a legitimate rivalry, and THEN you've got something possibly big.

It's not that I don't understand the idea. I do, and it makes sense. But there's no way to actually facilitate that right now. HBO can hype all they want, but no Bradley or Alexander fight right now is drawing fans beyond the people who already watch every HBO fight.

We're just not talking about superstar fighters, or guys who are particularly close to that. Bradley's home base is a 2,000-seat arena in Rancho Mirage, California. Alexander's is in St. Louis, an underrated fight city that has always supported its hometown boys, but he's only a draw in St. Louis. Bradley has even said he'd be willing to go to St. Louis (though he'd prefer Vegas), and knows that the Agua Caliente can't host this fight.

They're both relative unknowns still. Bradley has never fought on HBO and Alexander just got there, and with the available opponents... well.

We're talking about two of the very best young fighters in boxing maybe being able to take advantage of one another and use an actual tough fight to become bigger, instead of hoping, as is so often the case nowadays, that an audience will simply materialize out of mediocre fights. Andre Berto is in a similar spot, and has been for a couple years. The only way he's getting bigger is to take a great fight, and he was willing to do that this year.

That's where these two are at. You know what will make them bigger? A great fight that can be truly hyped. With Bradley-Alexander, you can legitimately tell the public that the two best fighters in the world at 140 pounds are going to fight. Anything else is Boxing After Dark, and only the diehards who already know them care. Nothing is really gained by a couple more tune-up wins for these guys.

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