"He knows I'm too fast for him," Alexander says. "He knows that I'm going to be too slick for him. My skills are way better than his."
The case for Bradley (26-0, 11 KOs) centers on the way he overwhelms opponents with a high volume of punches thrown with such speed that it is difficult to see them coming, let alone counter He's like a machine with only one gear, high. When a fighter steps in the ring with Bradley he'd better be in the best shape of his life because he's going to get pushed to the limits of his endurance. So far no one has been able to outlast him. "Timothy trains very, very hard, a blue collar guy who fights every second of every minute of every round," says his promoter, Gary Shaw. "He trains in the desert in 100 degree heat, and it's the same temperature in his gym. It takes a certain kind of guy to work in those conditions and a lot of discipline."
The case for Alexander (21-0, 13 KOs) hangs on his speed, agility and the variety of ways he can beat an opponent. Allow him to keep the fight at a distance and he'll pile up points by landing shots with his long arms. If you try to get inside on him, more often than not you'll wind up chasing a ghost. Fast feet and the polished movement of a dancer make him very difficult to corner, let alone beat. "He knows I'm too fast for him," Alexander says. "He knows that I'm going to be too slick for him. My skills are way better than his."
It was precisely those abilities that allowed Alexander to escape with a victory against former champion Andriy Kotelnik in his last fight. Early in the fight Alexander succeeded in keeping Kotelnik at arm's length, allowing him to banked most of the first six rounds. But when Alexander inexplicably stopped moving and stood in front of Kotelnik for long stretches at a time, the Ukrainian was able to get inside and do enough damage in the later rounds to nearly pull off the upset. The judges all gave it to Alexander, 116-112; although some who watched the fight felt Kotelnik had won. Shaw believes that Alexander was exposed against the crafty, disciplined Kotelnik. "If you ask Alexander and his trainer Kevin Cunningham they will say he just had a bad night," Shaw says. "Only Alexander in his head knows if he had a bad night or was exposed, and he'll have to deal with it.
In his post-fight remarks Alexander admitted it was not his finest hour. "I think I did enough to win. It was an okay performance for me." Alexander will need more than just okay to beat the likes of Bradley. Even if it was an off night, one thing that fight showed is that Alexander can be hit. He took way too many shots and was lucky Kotelnik is not a big puncher or he might have gone down. "What Kotelnik showed was Alexander has a very suspect defense," Shaw said.
That does not necessarily mean that Bradley will be able to exploit Alexander's possible flaws the way Kotelnik did. Kotelnik is a master boxer and technician and his patience and precision punching is what enabled him to repeatedly nail Alexander. Nobody will ever accuse Bradley of being either an exacting boxer or a patient one.
There's no question that Alexander has the faster hands and foot speed, but what's debatable is whether that swiftness can be used to his advantage against Bradley. At times - especially when he's inside - Bradley tends to throw wide looping punches that could leave him vulnerable to an excellent counter puncher like Alexander. But Bradley's non-stop flurry of punches complicates the issue for Alexander. Even when Alexander does spot an opening, he will have to deal with another punch or two already flying his way.