Welterweight titlist Randall Bailey, citing a bad back, withdrew from his upcoming defense against former junior welterweight titleholder Devon Alexander on Friday, leaving the Alexander camp fuming.
Bailey and Alexander were due to meet in the headline bout of a Showtime card on Sept. 8 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
Kevin Cunningham, Alexander's trainer and manager, has been around boxing for many years and has seen his share of fights be postponed on short notice, but this one has him very upset.
"With this one, it's particularly frustrating because we're dealing with a guy who has been (difficult) through the whole negotiating process," Cunningham told ESPN.com. "He got the money he wanted. We had a date for the fight on Aug. 25 and he said he couldn't be ready and to make it in September and he would be ready. So we pushed our date back. He wanted to dictate where the fight was going to be held. He wanted it to be in Las Vegas and refused to fight in St. Louis (Alexander's hometown), so the fight was in Vegas.
"He got the money, the date and the site, and then a week before the fight, he pulled out with this back injury. I don't think the guy is injured, to be honest with you. I just don't think he wasn't ready."
Neither Bailey nor his promoter, Lou DiBella, could be reached for comment.
Showtime Sports general manager Stephen Espinoza told ESPN.com that no decision had been made about whether the show would be canceled.
Ajose Olusegun (30-0, 14 KOs), a southpaw from Nigeria who lives in England, is due to meet Lucas Matthysse (31-2, 29 KOs) of Argentina for a vacant interim junior welterweight title in the co-feature. It could be elevated to the main event or it could move to another Showtime card that Golden Boy is promoting this fall.
"We're still evaluating our options, whether to go forward with what we can or cancel everything. It's all very new," Espinoza said. "I'd like to save the event if at all possible, mainly because it's so hard on the fighters who have been training for months. We're working hard to find options that would allow us to save the show."
Bailey (43-7, 37 KOs), 37, of Miami -- perhaps the best pure puncher among active fighters -- won a vacant 147-pound title against Philadelphia's Mike Jones on June 9 on the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley Jr. pay-per-view undercard and was due to make his first defense against Alexander.
Bailey was way behind the favored Jones on all three scorecards after nine uneventful rounds when he landed a clean right hand to drop Jones seconds before the end of the 10th round. In the 11th round, Bailey, who held a junior welterweight title from May 1999 to July 2000, got Jones again, this time for good. He landed a crushing right uppercut for the upset knockout and a second world title.
"He might have been stuck in celebration mode longer than he should have been and when he looked up and realized the fight with Devon was a week away, he came up with a back injury because he knew he wasn't ready. That's what I think," Cunningham said. "Devon is pissed. He has been training since June."
Golden Boy Promotions, Alexander's promoter, and Showtime hope to reschedule the bout, although Cunningham said Alexander is willing to scrap the title shot and face a substitute opponent if a worthy one can be found on short notice.
"Find us another opponent," Cunningham said. "My kid is at his peak and ready to fight. Randall Bailey is an idiot. I think he's jerking everybody around. We bent over backwards to make this fight with Randall Bailey happen and he comes up with excuses."
Said Espinoza, "I'd love to find a replacement opponent for Devon, but given that Devon is an elite welterweight, it is unlikely that we will be able find a legitimate opponent willing to take the fight on short notice."
Alexander (23-1, 13 KOs), 25, suffered his lone loss via 10th-round technical decision in a January 2011 140-pound unification fight against Bradley. Alexander has won 10-round decisions in his two fights since, both against big punchers. He split a verdict against Matthysse in June 2011 followed by a virtual shutout decision in February against former junior welterweight titlist Marcos Maidana, who, like Alexander, had moved up to the welterweight division for the nontitle fight.