Devon Alexander is not expecting former light welterweight champion Andriy Kotelnik to halt his rise through the ranks in St Louis this weekend.
Alexander (20-0) defends his WBC and IBF title against the former WBA champion, who is looking to rebuild his career after sliding to a lop-sided defeat to Amir Khan last year.
The 32-year-old Ukrainian has spent almost a year out of the ring since that defeat and the unbeaten Alexander, who is younger by nine years, is predicting another defeat for Kotelnik.
“Kotelnik is a good, solid fighter – but I am a better one,” said Alexander at the pre-fight press conference. His time has come and gone.
“He was a champion, but he’s not anymore, and he’s certainly not going to be champion after this fight.
“It’s a blessing to be back in St. Louis. For those of you who don’t know me, I started out on undercards here in St. Louis. Look at me now. I’m in the main event.”
Outspoken trainer Kevin Cunningham made a bolder prediction for the fight, as he looks for his protege to become the first fighter to stop Kotelnik inside the distance.
“Kotelnik is one of the best fighters in the world, that’s why I wanted him for Devon,” he said. “He beat one of the baddest fighters in the world, Marcos Maidana. This boy Kotelnik is from the Ukraine. That’s along way to come for an a– whuppin’.
“I never make predictions, and I wasn’t going to tell the public this, but I just told my team last week that Devon’s going to knock out Kotelnik in two rounds. We’re kicking his a–.”
Kotelnik (31-3-1) hit back, saying: “Alexander and his people are very brave because they are at home. But we’ll see how brave they are after I beat Alexander. I still love America. It’s one of the great countries, but I have a job to do and I will do it.
“Everybody you know should watch this fight. I am going to show you everything I can do, and you will not be disappointed.”
A victory for Alexander will increase the clamour for he and Khan to meet in a winner-takes-all clash for three of the four belts at 140lbs.
Timothy Bradley, who is the current WBO champion, will make the next defence of his title against Luis Carlos Abregu on July 17.