By Derek Bonnett: The sport of boxing is replete with fighters who fail to live up to their monikers. After all, how often have you thought of Ruslan Chagaev as a "White Tyson"? Chad Dawson is without a doubt the best light heavyweight in the world today, but is he really "Bad"? When was the last time Zab Judah actually looked "Super"? Personally, I don’t think anyone has mistaken Nkosinathi Joyi, a 105-pound champion, as a "Bear (Mabere)". However, there are some pugilists that are perfect fits for their nicknames and personify them to the letter. That’s why when we hear "The Knock-Out King" today, we only think of newly crowned IBF welterweight champion Randall Bailey.
Bailey’s name immediately conjures highlight reel KOs over Carlos "Bolillo" Gonzalez, Francisco Figueroa, Jackson Osei Bonsu, and, now, Mike Jones. The Miami native ran his record to 43-7 last Saturday and scored his thirty-seventh knockout. That’s one KO for every year the welterweight champion has been alive! In that time Bailey also became the only man to stop rugged junior welterweight veteran Hector Lopez when the likes of fellow worlds champions Miguel Angel Gonzalez and Kostya Tszyu were forced to go the distance.
Bailey has punched his way through fifty professional bouts with similar authority as Julian Jackson, who was no stranger to chilling KOs. Like Jackson, Bailey’s demeanor after landing a punch is often a better indicator of the night’s conclusion than the referee’s gestures.
"I knew [the Jones fight was] over because when I threw the punch, I put everything in it and the way he went down let me know it was over," Bailey recounted for SecondsOut. "I heard my man Rivas say ’you gotta knock him out’, so I went out to land the right punches."
Bailey is best known for his right hand which can appear laser-guided and is often masked behind the cover of a set-up jab. This punch is best revisited in the "Gato" Figueroa fight. Bailey often defends his left-hook as an overlooked weapon and his stunning KO of Gonzalez reinforces this reminder. However, the punch heard around the world this weekend was Bailey’s uppercut, which had the undefeated Jones completely separated from his senses and struggling to regain his footing.
One adage that seems to hold true in boxing is that fighters’ power is the last attribute to leave them as they advance along the schedule of Father Time. Over the years, Bailey’s stamina and legs have been called into question, but the thunder in his gloves has not only kept him relevant, but made him a two-division world champion.
Bailey recognizes his struggle with Jones, who built a steady lead after the second round, but brushes it off to his opponent and not the number of candles on his cake come September. Surprisingly, he felt much stronger about this win than when he won the WBO 140-pound title from Gonzalez in just forty-one seconds back in 1999.
"It was Jones’ size and style; my age didn’t matter," Bailey claimed. "There is no comparing [the Gonzalez win to the Jones victory] because I had to work hard to achieve this goal and win this title."
In April, Paulie Malignaggi, another thirty-something former world champion, claimed a portion of the welterweight title. Bailey and Malignaggi figure to become very popular names on the tongues of promoters, managers, and fighters alike because they seem to represent easier marks than Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, er, I mean, Timothy Bradley. Presently, Carson Jones, Jan Zaveck, Kell Brook, and Rafal Jackiewicz highlight the top ten rankings of the IBF.
When asked who he would like to face next, Bailey was indifferent.
"Well, it really don’t matter to me," Bailey stated. " All I need is a body in the other corner; I can’t dance by myself."
However, when asked about his thoughts about the Jones win catapulting him into the mix being considered for Mayweather’s post-prison return, he had clearer thoughts.
"Yes, it should because I beat an undefeated fighter just like [Victor] Ortiz and I didn’t go the distance with him," Bailey said in reference to Ortiz receiving a shot against Mayweather after upsetting Andre Berto in Connecticut.
The future for Randall Bailey is still uncertain, but it is a whole lot less uncertain than it was before the Mike Jones fight or if he had lost. Bailey’s KO will be memorable for years to come and should certainly vie for end of the year consideration among boxing’s best KOs. Not to be forgotten should be Bailey’s emotional post-fight comments, which were delayed by sobs of utter joy.
Just exactly what did Bailey put himself through to prepare himself for this bout?
"Well, normal life can play a big part in preparation," Bailey mused. "Being successful requires a lot of dedication and sometimes you have leave people you care about behind to achieve your own goals in life."
Here’s to happy reunions and a big payday down the line. Thanks to "The Knock-Out King", Saturday’s pay-per-view boxing card wasn’t completely sullied by the unsatisfying endings to Rojas-Arce and Bradley-Pacquiao I.
For further boxing discussion, contact Derek DBO Bonnett on Facebook or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
June 13, 2012