Saunders, Eubank vie for title shot

Friday 31st October , 2014 6:38 pm

Welterweight contenders Devon Alexander and Amir Khan will collide in a 12-round bout on Dec. 13 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The fight, in the works for a few weeks, was announced by Golden Boy Promotions on Friday.

The bout will headline a Showtime-televised tripleheader that also will include Keith Thurman defending his interim welterweight belt against Leonard Bundu and junior middleweight titlist Demetrius Andrade defending his world title against Jermell Charlo.

Also on the card are 10-round bouts involving featherweight Abner Mares, a former three-division titlist, and former welterweight titlist Victor Ortiz, both of whom will face opponents to be determined. Those bouts are not scheduled to air on the Showtime broadcast but could air as part of preliminary coverage on Showtime Extreme, although the network declined to say if would air them.

Alexander (26-2, 14 KOs), 27, of St. Louis, a former welterweight and junior welterweight titleholder, was supposed to defend his welterweight belt against Khan last December. But after being far down the road to finalizing the fight, Khan abruptly withdrew, electing instead to sit out because he believed he would be Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s May opponent. Khan was passed over in favor of Marcos Maidana.

Alexander faced Shawn Porter instead and lost a decision and his title. He bounced back with a strong performance in a 10-round decision victory against Jesus Soto Karass on June 21.

“I’ve wanted this fight for a long time and I’m ready to show that I’m worthy of this opportunity and the opportunities ahead after I win on Dec. 13,” said Alexander, who is excited to be fighting in Las Vegas for the first time in his 10-year career. “I’ve worked hard my entire life and now the pressure is on to really show what I can do.”

After Khan (29-3, 19 KOs), 27, of England, didn’t get the fight with Mayweather he returned from a 13-month layoff to outpoint former welterweight titlist Luis Collazo on the Mayweather-Maidana I undercard. The former unified junior welterweight titleholder has won three fights in a row since back-to-back losses in 140-pound title bouts against Danny Garcia and Lamont Peterson.

“Getting back in the ring is all I’ve been looking towards these last few months,” Khan said. “I want to show everybody that I’m a major force at 147 pounds and I’m ready to take on the best. This fight with Alexander has been on the table for a while, but it is finally happening and I plan on winning impressively to show that I am truly one of the best welterweights in the world.”

The winner of the fight will be a surefire front-runner to land a fight with Mayweather next year.

Thurman (23-0, 21 KOs), 25, of Clearwater, Florida — one of boxing’s most exciting rising stars — is coming off a third-round knockout of faded former lightweight titlist Julio Diaz in April. His longer-than-expected layoff is because of a shoulder injury.

“I can’t wait to get back in the ring and defend my title,” Thurman said. “I’m going to give all my fans the performance of a lifetime and prove why my name should be at the top of the welterweight conversation.”

Bundu (31-0-2, 11 KOs), 39, of Italy, is the European welterweight champion but unknown in the United States. He has faced pedestrian opposition, other than in his last fight on Aug. 1 when he won a split decision over England’s highly regarded Frankie Gavin to win the European title. Bundu got this high-profile match because he recently signed with powerful manager Al Haymon, who also handles Mayweather, Thurman, Khan, Alexander, Charlo, Mares and Ortiz, among more than 120 other fighters.

“Dec. 13 is going to be the biggest night of my professional career thus far,” Bundu said. “To be fighting in the United States, in the fight capital of the world — Las Vegas — on Showtime against one of the most promising American prospects is a dream come true. But Keith Thurman doesn’t scare me. I know that I have what it takes to win and truly make a name for myself throughout the boxing world.”

Andrade (21-0, 14 KOs), 26, of Providence, Rhode Island — making the jump from HBO to Showtime — will be making his second title defense against Charlo (24-0, 11 KOs), 24, of Houston.

“There is no way I’m letting go of my belt,” Andrade said. “Jermell Charlo is a good fighter, but nothing is going to stop me from defending my belt and raising my hand in victory. I am confident that this will be a fight fans won’t want to miss.”

Said Charlo, “I am beyond excited to finally get a shot at a world title. This is what I’ve been waiting for. I’m ready to be a world champion. Nothing is going to stand in my way. Andrade is the champion and I’m not looking past him at all, but this is my time. I know it. The title will lead to bigger and better things and that is what I’m all about.”

Mares (27-1-1, 14 KOs), 28, of Downey, California, has won world titles at bantamweight, junior featherweight and featherweight. He lost his featherweight title by first-round knockout to Jhonny Gonzalez in a major upset in August 2013. He returned 11 months later for a 10-round decision against Jonathan Oquendo in an uneven performance.

Mares fired trainer Clemente Medina in the wake of the loss to Gonzalez and hired Virgil Hunter for the Oquendo fight, but he recently parted ways with Hunter and returned to Medina.

“My ultimate goal is another shot at a world championship and a win on Dec. 13 will help me get there,” Mares said. “I plan on putting on a great performance and showcasing my skills once again.”

Ortiz (29-5-2, 22 KOs), 27, of Oxnard, California, has seen his career fade badly in the past few years. He won a welterweight title by decision against Andre Berto in a fight of the year candidate in 2011 but is 0-3 since, getting knocked out each time. He lost the belt by fourth-round knockout to Mayweather in his first defense in September 2011. In June 2012, he suffered a severely broken jaw in a ninth-round knockout loss to massive underdog Josesito Lopez.

Ortiz, who appeared on “Dancing With The Stars” and shot the film “Expendables 3” during his injury layoff, returned in January and was drilled in the second round by Collazo, a loss that had many believing Ortiz’s career was over.

“I’m excited to get back into the ring,” Ortiz said. “I got caught in my last fight, but I’m ready to get back to work and improve my game. I know what it takes to win and that is what I plan on doing. I’m thankful for the opportunity and looking forward to giving fans a great show.”

Source: ESPN