The Resurrection of Randall Bailey

By Robert Ecksel on October 17, 2012
The Resurrection of Randall Bailey
I spoke with Bailey recently and he was humble, down to earth, as easygoing as could be.

“I was in shape, my mind was right for this fight, and I knew I was going to have to wait him out. I didn’t think it was going to take that long, but it did…”

The furor over Pacquiao-Bradley has subsided. The WBO has spoken. The Nevada Attorney General has spoken. Everyone has spoken.

That questionable decision notwithstanding, what transpired on one of the undercards was lost in the subsequent hubbub.

Undefeated Mike Jones (26-0 going in) was fighting for the vacant IBF welterweight title against 37-year-old Randall Bailey (42-7). The pundits and bookies threw their weight behind the 29-year-old Philadelphian. Although no one ever mistook Jones for being scintillating, the man he was going up against held a title 10 long years ago. He had only one fight in 2011. He fought a total of three rounds in 2010. His career has been hit or miss for the longest time.

Few people gave Bailey much of a chance against Mike Jones. Randall Bailey, however, was not among them.

I spoke with Bailey recently and he was humble, down to earth, as easygoing as could be.

Born on Sept. 13, 1974, Bailey has been fighting for as long as he can remember. “We weren’t rich,” he said, “but it was okay. I got into a lot of fights and I knew how to fight.” He was raised by his mother, Cynthia King, and if he wasn’t looking for trouble, it seemed that trouble came looking for him. “I saw shootings, dead bodies, really bad fights, people getting jumped—all kinds of nonsense.”

There are good boys and bad boys and Bailey gravitated toward the latter. There were drugs. There were girls. There were guns. But there also was boxing.

“My friends,” recalled Bailey, “we always used to ride by the gym on the bus and we said we stop in there but never did as a group. But when I was at home one day, I just decided, ‘ I’m not doing anything right now. Let me call down there and see what they’re talking about.’ After I got off the phone with them, I had my mom take me down there.”

Even before he walked into the 27th Avenue Boxing Gym for the first time, Bailey was sure of one thing: “You could fight in there, and you weren’t going to get in any trouble, as long as it was in the ring.”

There were trainers in the gym and the first day they taught Bailey how to throw a jab and right hand. The second day in the gym some guys came in to spar. Although a novice, Bailey wanted in on the action. “Let me get in there,” he said, “and I went in just with the jab and right hand, and the guy I was sparring with already had like five fights. I did him in with just the jab and right hand. I just hit him up real good. He wasn’t like throwing any punches. He was just like taking it really.”

Randall Bailey laughed.

Although it was early in the game, very early in the game, I wondered if Bailey had any idea that boxing might be part of his future.

“No,” he said. “It was just the pleasure of fighting. I didn’t really consider boxing could be a career for me until after I got out of jail in ’95.”

Bailey was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon on April 7, 1994. He was busted a year later when he threw a .380 semiautomatic under his car during a routine traffic stop. He was sentenced to 64 days in prison.

“That two months felt like a year,” he said. “That was enough for me. After I got out of jail, that’s when I really thought about it and went back to the gym. I was just telling myself, I did all kinds of other stuff. I’m just going to give boxing 100 percent and see where it took me.”

There were plenty of pros in the gym where Bailey trained: Jose Ribalta, Freddie Pendleton, Sugar Baby Rojas, Trevor Berbick and Uriah Grant. “We had a whole slew of old veterans that used to be around at that time in our gym and they all took a liking to me. And me and Freddie, Freddie Pendleton, we used to pretty much hang out all the time.” Bailey started training and sparring with Pendleton every day. “He always told me whenever I was ready to be serious let me know—and it was time to let him know.”

Freddie was being trained by Al Bonanni at the time. Bailey told him that he was thinking about turning pro and Bonanni started him out. That was 1996.

Randall Bailey had his first pro fight in Miami on April 6, a first round KO over Fernando Granda. He went on a tear and stopped his next 17 opponents. The superlatives were flying fast and furious.

On May 15, 1999, at Jai Alai Fronton in Miami, Bailey met WBO junior welterweight champion Carlos Gonzalez. Gonzalez TKO’d Giovanni Parisi in Italy a year earlier to claim the crown. The veteran had won 45 of his 48 fights. He had also never been knocked down. But there’s a first time for everything. Bailey needed just 41 seconds to knock Gonzalez down and out.

Bailey’s joy at wearing the crown was short-lived. After two successful title defenses, he lost a split-decision to Ener Julio on July 22, 2000. Julio lost the title in his next fight, whereas Bailey won his next four fights by early stoppage. But the long win streaks were a thing of the past, punctuated by a seventh KO loss to Diosbelys Hurtado on May 11, 2002, in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

“He caught me with a good body shot,” Bailey told me. “You get hit with a good kidney punch, it does what it does. There ain’t nothing you can do about it. It is what it is. But I think it was also all the delays and all the other stuff they was putting me through before the fight—because me and Hurtado were supposed to fight on the Felix Trinidad-Bernard Hopkins card. They pulled out against me in numerous fights. He ended up fighting for another title. The WBA approved it, and all I ended up was still having to wait, wait, wait, and try to find somebody to fight when the title became available for me to fight for it. They mandated for me to go back to the gym. So I would have to fight him in 90 days. No rest time. I hadn’t been in camp since July of ’01 and I didn’t get that fight until February of 2002. So I just wasn’t focused going into training camp for that fight. Hey, shit happens.”

Shit happens, that’s a fact, even more in boxing than in most other endeavors.

“There is a lot of politics,” Bailey pointed out. “But me coming off the street, getting into a game I knew nothing about, my first promoter was Don King. We had a great relationship. It was like a kid being at home, me being with him. I could have stayed with him and everything would have been a lot easier for me. But it just got to the point where I had to say, ‘You know what? I gotta get out of here. I gotta get out of the house and try to find my own way.’ So in splitting with him and my first trainer, it was like leaving home, growing up, being a man and trying to do things on my own. That’s the way I looked at it.”

That was in 2004. Bailey signed with Warrior Boxing and fought a couple fights under their banner, including his Dec. 11 loss to Miguel Cotto. Unlike the bout with Hurtado, Bailey enough time to train, but he “didn’t have a strategy going into that one. My only strategy was to try to hit him. In that fight, he was where he needed to be, and I wasn’t.” Bailey concluded that he needed to “find another trainer that I molded with, who was able to bring out what I knew I had in me.”

His trainer at the time spoke Spanish but very little English. “I was like, ‘How you gonna train me when you don’t speak much English?’ But me and the guy was cool and I knew him because he used to be in the gym training with us before, so I gave him a shot. But this guy really didn’t compliment me in what I needed to do. So the Cotto fight really kind of gave me an eye-opener. I had to really sit down and tell myself, ‘Look, if you’re gonna do this you need to find somebody, the right person, that’s going to train you to get you back where you need to be—or you need to retire, simple as that.’”

Bailey didn’t retire. Instead, he hooked up with John David Jackson, his trainer to this day, and went 15-2 since the fight with Cotto.

“John was out of town with Bernard, but he always came back and helped out here in Miami. We already got a relationship together. Plus I knew John from ’01 when I went to camp in July at King’s training camp in Ohio when I was getting ready for a title the first time. He was up there too, but we didn’t really get a chance to connect and talk too much. But once he came down we got involved. He’s like family.”

Randall’s KO of Mike Jones was a thing of beauty, and all but a select few picked him to win. Most people said he was too told. They said he was over the hill. They called him a journeyman.

“Yeah,” said Bailey. “Everybody puts a label on something—except themselves.”

Before the fight Bailey said about Jones, “He makes a lot of mistakes.” I wanted to know what mistakes Bailey saw that he thought he could exploit.

“He doesn’t really commit to power in his punches,” Bailey replied, “and he slaps a lot. And he makes noises. Anyone who makes noises is not really punching hard to me. So I seen a lot of opportunities where he could be hit and he could be hit hard.

“I started watching tapes of him in January as a matter of fact. I thought the fight would happen in March. And when it didn’t, it just gave me more time to prepare for him. In the gym I’m punching way, way, way too hard, and I’m telling myself, ‘When I catch him, I know I’m going to hurt him.’ I knew when I touched him in the first round, if I didn’t knock him out then it was going to be a long night. In the first round I DID touch him, but behind the head a little bit. When I didn’t catch him right—he was OUT OF THERE and then started doing circles. He was jabbing and he was tucking his chin behind his jab. I knew the best way to get him was with an uppercut. I was in shape, my mind was right for this fight, and I knew I was going to have to wait him out. I didn’t think it was going to take that long, but it did. So it wasn’t a problem for me.”

Before Bailey dropped Jones the first time in round 10, before finishing off in the 11th, the fight, which was supposed to be the fight of the night, was a pretty drab affair.

“The public wanted to see something different, but I already knew I was going to knock him out when I hit him. They talk about this. They talk about that. They talk about punch stats and all this other shit. But tell me where a guy can throw 18 punches in 11 rounds and still win.”

Bailey laughed again.

There was one more thing I wanted to know. I asked Bailey how he would describe himself to those who had never seen him fight.

He took a long time to answer.

“Like a wolf,” he said. “I react real slow, but the minute you make the wrong move I’m gonna attack.”

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Mike Jones vs Randall Bailey Highlights

Randall Bailey Pre-Fight Promo

John David Jackson on Randall Bailey's knockout, Pacquiao-Bradley outcome

Randall Bailey Speaks On Knocking Out Mike Jones And Pacquiao-Bradley Outcome

Boxing - Randall Bailey Vs Francisco Figueroa (Incredible KO)

Miguel Cotto vs Randall Bailey 1 of 2

Miguel Cotto vs Randall Bailey 2 of 2

Randall Bailey vs Diosbelys Hurtado

BOXING Randall Bailey VS Carlos Gonzalez

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  1. peter 05:12pm, 10/20/2012

    Good article. Good vids. Makes me more interested in hearing the results of his fight tonight.

  2. PK 04:16pm, 10/20/2012

    This was a good read! Looking forward to his fight tonight. His KO’s are a thing of beauty…

  3. Shane K Richardson 02:41pm, 07/29/2012

    I always appreciate a great article or piece of writing. Thanks for the contribution.

  4. procopy 04:16pm, 07/26/2012

    the boxing statue randall bailey. silent but deadly.. :)

  5. Nick 08:46pm, 07/25/2012

    At least Bailey has accepted some formidable challenges against people who weigh the same as he does. Can’t say the same of Broner, who will crash and burn very soon.

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