The Knock-Out King’s Speech
We’re bigger believers in second and third chances than in second and third helpings. No man is counted out until he’s really counted out. Unless someone is literally scraped off the canvas, it’s reasonable to assume there’s a chance, however remote, that he will suddenly spring to life and show us some of that old black magic.
In the case of 38-year-old Randall “Knock-Out King” Bailey (43-8, 37 KOs), it’s questionable how much he has left. His destruction of Mike Jones last summer to win the IBF welterweight title was a thing of beauty. Watching an underdog defy the odds, age, and common wisdom all at once, by in effect returning from the dead, warmed the hearts of middle-aged men and resurrectionists the world over.
But when Bailey fought Devon Alexander at the gala opening of the Barclays Center, he stunk out the joint and lost the many fans he had gained four months earlier. He not only got shutdown by the speedy St. Louis native. Even worse, it looked like he didn’t care. Granted, Bailey never throws a lot of punches. Granted, Alexander can be elusive. But Bailey should have put forth something resembling effort, especially with the eyes of the boxing world watching, especially now that he wants to fight again.
“In the Alexander fight, nothing really happened to me other than a head-butt,” explained Bailey. “He just caught me on a bad night. Some things are meant to be and other things aren’t meant to be. I watched that fight and I never, ever came that close to hitting somebody on the button, barely missing, over and over again. There will be other nights for me, I promise.”
It’s hard not to like Randall Bailey. And as he said, everyone has a bad night. But words like “close” and “barely missing” mean next to nothing in the fight game.
“World title fights aren’t always the best fights,” he continued. “I want to be in entertaining fights, the ones TV networks want to pay for, and fans love to watch. If I had my choice, right now, it would be against Maidana or Thurman, even Senchenko. They come forward and fight, rather than run around in a boring fight. I don’t really like fighting 12 rounds, so I’d rather not fight guys moving around to just win on points.”
Bailey has power, the great equalizer, the Susie Q. He can end fights with a single punch. Maybe come-forward fighters like Maidana, Thurman and Senchenko would be better suited to Bailey’s gifts. But one can’t blame a fighter, Devon Alexander in this instance, for boxing his way to victory. Those who can box; those who can’t slug.
In the old days a fighter Bailey’s age was considered an anomaly. George Foreman, with a resurrection of his own, changed that perception forever. Maybe Bailey still has what it takes to compete at the upper echelon, but he’ll have to prove it. And the only place he can prove it, unfortunately or otherwise, is in the ring.