- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Golden Boy Promotions and Showtime announced Saturday that the Sept. 8 show will go on.
Welterweight titlist Randall Bailey (43-7, 37 KOs) was scheduled to make his first defense against former unified junior welterweight titleholder Devon Alexander (23-1, 13 KOs) in the main event of the card at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, but Bailey was forced to postpone the fight on Friday after suffering a back injury during a sparring session.
Showtime considered postponing the entire card, but on Saturday the decision was made to go forward with it by moving the co-feature up to the main event. That means a bit more attention for Olusegun Ajose (30-0, 14 KOs), a southpaw from Nigeria who lives in England, and slugger Lucas Matthysse (31-2, 29 KOs) of Argentina, who meet for a vacant interim junior welterweight title.
"We're disappointed that Devon will not have the opportunity to fight Randall Bailey for the title (on Sept. 8), but we're hopeful that Randall will recover quickly so we can reschedule this great fight," Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer said. "As every cloud has a silver lining, we're excited that the explosive Sept. 8 matchup between Ajose Olusegun and Lucas Matthysse will now be in the spotlight headlining a great night of boxing."
Showtime announced that it would still broadcast a doubleheader (9 p.m. ET/PT), although the new co-feature has not yet been determined.
"This is unfortunate for Randall, Devon and the fans who are looking forward to their fight," said Showtime Sports general manager Stephen Espinoza. "We would still like to televise Alexander versus Bailey but, of course, we have to wait for further information on Bailey's injury before we can talk about that. In the meantime, we have a fierce matchup between Ajose and Matthysse on our hands for next Saturday. These men have been training for months and we all know what they bring to the ring. Now, they have the spotlight all to themselves. I am looking forward to that fight."
Lou DiBella, Bailey's promoter, said the delay of the fight with Alexander was unavoidable.
"Unfortunately, Randall Bailey suffered a severe lower back sprain," he said. "The orthopedic specialist determined that Bailey would not be able to fight on Sept. 8 and requires a period of rest. He'll be returning to the specialist on Wednesday, but the injury is not expected to sideline him for an extended period of time. We're pleased that there is a terrific fight between Ajose and Lucas Matthysse to move into the main event position.
"This fight between two of the best 140-pounders in the world will establish the challenger for the winner of the Oct. 20 showdown between (titleholder) Danny Garcia and Erik Morales."
Garcia and Morales are meeting in a rematch on Showtime in the inaugural boxing event at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. The fight is a rematch of Garcia's clear decision win in March to win the vacant title after Morales had been stripped of the belt at the weigh-in the previous day for coming in overweight. Morales had a rematch clause and took advantage of it after Garcia won an interim bout to unify belts with a knockout of Amir Khan on July 14.
Ajose has been the mandatory fight for the WBC version of the title but he has continually been put off by the organization. His consolation prize was an opportunity to fight for the interim belt.