Relationship with trainer fuels Alexander

The winner of the Devon Alexander-Timothy Bradley fight (Jan. 29, live on HBO at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT) has a chance to launch his career into another level. Both fighters are undefeated, and both are calling this the biggest fight of their lives.

Between rounds, Alexander, a 23-year-old St. Louis native, will have a very familiar face in his corner in trainer Kevin Cunningham. In a time where top boxers change trainers with regularity, Alexander has been with Cunningham since he was eight. That stability and familiarity has helped him amass his unbeaten record (21-0) and it may be the key to keeping that zero in the loss column.

“All he has to do is look a certain way and I know what he wants me to do,” Alexander explained. “That means a lot. It means that when I’m fighting, he’s my other eyes. He even knows how much I weigh even before I get on the scale.”

While Alexander knows the magnitude of what stands before him (both the WBC and WBO light welterweight belts are on the line), he says that once the opening bell rings, it will simply be business as usual.

“I’m definitely going to be prepared, but as far as the fight goes, it’s a normal fight," Alexander says. "When both people get in the ring, it will be two people in the ring fighting. This is the biggest fight of my career though, because it determines who’s the best in the division.”

Being the very best has long been the goal for Alexander and Cunningham, but their relationship started as a way to stay out of trouble. Cunningham, a former police offer, started his gym in the basement of the old police station. He became a father figure to many of the kids who came through the gym, but none more than his prized pupil.

“He’s been like a dad to me growing up,” Alexander said. “He never gave up on me and always pushed me to the edge and made sure that I’m on point.”

With only a week until the fight, Alexander says he is ready. The final days will be spent sharpening up, putting finishing touches on preparation and getting mentally ready to go toe to toe with Bradley. Alexander says his training camp for this fight was his most intense.

While he has brimmed with confidence in pre-fight press conferences, Alexander shied away from any predictions, simply saying, “Just know I’m going to be ready, fast and explosive.”

Boxing is often a family craft. There are many sets of brothers who fight and sons who follow in the footsteps of their fathers and grandfathers. It has also strained relationships between fathers and sons. Kevin Cunningham and Devon Alexander may not be blood relatives, but they are clearly family and their relationship is stronger than ever. So strong in fact, that it may carry Alexander to another level of stardom in the near future.

“The confidence I have in Kevin, without that, I wouldn’t be able to focus. I’m happy I have that type of stability around me.”