Welterweight titlist Devon Alexander, in search of a new opponent after mandatory challenger Kell Brook dropped out of their fight on Monday because of a stress fracture in his right foot, got a new opponent on Friday in Lee Purdy, one of Brook's stablemates at Matchroom Sport.
Alexander was scheduled to make his first title defense against England's Brook on May 18 in Atlantic City, N.J., in the Showtime-televised co-feature to the Lamont Peterson-Lucas Matthysse welterweight fight. But when Brook dropped out, Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer was determined to keep Alexander on the card, and the process of going down the IBF rankings to get to the next available opponent began, ultimately ending with Purdy accepting the bout.
"Devon will be fighting his mandatory against Lee Purdy," Schaefer told ESPN.com. "He was the next available contender based on the IBF (rankings). He is promoted by Eddie Hearn (as is Brook). We agreed on the deal. The fight is on."
Kevin Bizier (20-0, 14 KOs) of Quebec was the IBF's next rated contender, but he declined the fight. According to promoter Yvon Michel, "The unanimous conclusion of (the Bizier team) was to refuse the IBF and Golden Boy's proposal. The current circumstances do not allow Kevin Bizier sufficient training and preparation required to participate in a fight of this magnitude against.
"We believe that Kevin Bizier has the talent to become world welterweight champion this year. We thank the IBF and Golden Boy for the opportunity offered but, unfortunately, we had to decline because Kevin would not have been able to offer a performance, given the current context, at the height of his talent."
Bizier is scheduled to fight May 25 in Montreal on the Jean Pascal-Lucian Bute undercard.
Bizier's rejection paved the way for Purdy (20-3-1, 13 KOs), 25, of England, to get the fight with Alexander (24-1, 13 KOs).
"Bizier didn't accept, so we were asked (Thursday night) and instantly accepted," said Hearn, who runs Matchroom Sport. "Terms were agreed to with Schaefer. Huge chance for Lee. It's obviously a big ask, but Lee is strong and a huge puncher."
Purdy, the former British welterweight champion, is taking a massive step up in competition by facing Alexander.
Alexander is just happy that he will be fighting somebody on May 18.
"We were ready to fight Brook but now we'll fight Purdy. We just want to take care of our mandatory obligation and move on to bigger and better things," said Kevin Cunningham, Alexander's manager and trainer. "Devon has been ready to fight. We don't care who it is. We just want to fulfill our mandatory obligation and get it out of the way. If it was Kell Brook, fine. If it's Lee Purdy, no problem."
Alexander-Brook was scheduled three times before finally being canceled altogether. It was originally supposed to take place on Jan. 19 in Los Angeles, but Brook (29-0, 19 KOs) suffered an ankle injury and the fight was postponed.
It was rescheduled for Feb. 23 in Detroit, but Alexander suffered a severely strained right biceps, causing it to be delayed until May 18 before Brook's latest injury forced it to be called off entirely.
Alexander, 26, a former junior welterweight titlist from St. Louis, won a welterweight title with a unanimous decision against Randall Bailey on Oct. 20 in New York, coincidentally the same day on which Brook knocked out Hector Saldivia in the third round in England to become the mandatory challenger. But with the latest injury, Brook loses his mandatory position, which will be filled by Purdy.