Alexander seeks 'statement' win off long layoff

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Devon Alexander, a former junior welterweight and welterweight world titleholder, is returning to the ring after a two-year layoff.

Alexander will square off with Walter Castillo in a scheduled 10-round welterweight fight in the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions card on Nov. 21 (Fox Sports 1/Fox Deportes, 8 p.m. ET) at the Coliseum in St. Petersburg, Florida, PBC announced on Tuesday.

Alexander (26-4, 14 KOs), a 30-year-old southpaw from St. Louis, who unified two junior welterweight world titles in 2010 and won a welterweight belt in 2012, has not fought since dropping a 10-round decision in a major upset to Aron Martinez in October 2015 on ESPN.

Alexander is 1-3 in his last four fights, including losses to Martinez, former junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan and Shawn Porter, who took his welterweight title. The lone win in the stretch came against journeyman Jesus Soto Karass.

Now Alexander is ready to get back into the ring after a layoff that was caused, in part, by an addiction to painkillers.

“Two years is a long time to be away from something you love, but I wanted to make sure when I come back that I would be 100 percent my old self,” Alexander said. “My last outings were not me, and a lot of my fans and people that know me are aware of that. I’ve been in constant training since then while getting my personal situation in order.

“Castillo is a good solid fight that is going to bring the best skills out of me. He’s not a slouch, and he’s coming to fight. But it’s not about what Castillo coming to do. It’s about me making a statement to show people that I am still up there with the elite fighters, and I know that when I’m right, nobody can beat me.”

Alexander owns victories against quality opponents such as Khan, Randall Bailey, Lucas Matthysse, Marcos Maidana, Andriy Kotelnik, Juan Urango and Junior Witter.

Castillo (26-4-1, 19 KOs), 29, of Nicaragua, is moving up in weight from junior welterweight and is also coming off a long layoff, 16 months. He lost his last fight by seventh-round knockout to top contender Sergey Lipinets in July 2016.

“I think this could be one of my last great opportunities and I’m very excited for it,” Castillo said. “Devon Alexander is a great boxer and I will have to be at my very best. Even though I’ve been out of the ring, my condition will not be a problem. I am 100 percent ready to give Alexander trouble. I am working very hard on a game plan to stop Alexander, shock everyone.”

In the co-feature, Miguel Cruz (16-0, 11 KOs), 27, of St. Mary, Florida, and David Grayton (15-1-1, 11 KOs), a 30-year-old southpaw from Washington, D.C., will meet in a scheduled 10-round welterweight bout.

The card will also include two of the fighting Russell brothers, bantamweight Gary Antonio Russell (9-0, 7 KOs), 24, and 2016 U.S. Olympian and junior welterweight Gary Antuanne Russell (2-0, 2 KOs), 21, both of Capitol Heights, Maryland. The younger brothers of featherweight world titleholder Gary Russell Jr. will face opponents to be determined in scheduled six-round fights.

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