The specter of The Gig hangs over Devon Alexander. The man is talented enough, and professional enough, and focused enough that it is more than likely that the mere possibility of The Gig -- i.e., a fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr., and the attendant oversized paycheck and opportunity to elevate himself immensely -- won't derail Alexander, who will fight Saturday night.
But, boxing being the theater of the unexpected, one never knows until one knows.
Alexander (24-1, 13 KOs), a 26-year-old welterweight from St. Louis and yet another person for whom boxing has snatched from a street life and given a purpose, will meet Lee Purdy, a Brit who is subbing in for another Brit, Kell Brook, who pulled out because of injury a few weeks ago.
They will face off at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., on a Showtime-televised card.
So, Devon, will Lee Purdy (20-3-1, 13 KOs and on a four-fight win streak) spoil the party, maybe screw up a potential shot at Mayweather, who needs a September dance partner?
"Not at all," Alexander told me. "The thing only way that can happen is you take him for granted. I am 100 percent ready for Lee. I look at him like he's the pound-for-pound king."
It's fair to say Purdy is not even sniffing pound-for-pound territory, even in the U.K., even in his weight division, which should mean Alexander could -- and probably should -- easily stop the 25-year-old, whose best win is over the faded Cosme Rivera (TKO9) in his most recent outing.
I put it out to the Twitterverse, and asked for assessments of Purdy from people who've seen more of him than I have. From Ismail L: "He's been matched intelligently recently, against guys who allow him to show his best. That said he's probably 4/5th 147 lb guy in UK." And who's above him? "Kell Brook, Frankie Gavin and Denton Vassell definitely," Ismail tweeted. "Matthew Hatton is around his level."
Alexander told me Purdy is a "tough guy" who is "going to be there all night."
The St. Louis hitter recognizes that it would be helpful to his future prospects if he takes Purdy out, in a fan-friendly manner. The buzz from Alexander's last fight, a win over hesitant Randall Bailey, was of the bad variety, so he's keen on overriding that with a bang-up showing. "You're going to see a lot more action," Alexander promised. "[With a Mayweather fight possible] I know you need to entertain. This definitely is the entertainment business, and I plan to entertain. I don't plan on backing up. This can help sell a potential Floyd fight for sure. I know there will be a lot of eyes on me as a potential opponent for Floyd."