Photos by Sumio Yamada
RANDALL BAILEY vs SHAWN GALLEGOS
About six years ago Randall Bailey was considered one of the biggest punchers in the business. He blasted his way to 21 consecutive stoppage wins, 13 in the opening round. There was a devastating 41-second blowout of the more experienced Carlos Bolilloâ€? Gonzalez to win the WBO junior welter title, then two succesful defences, in one of which he halted the tough Hector Lopez in nine rounds: Lopez had never been stopped and he had given Kostya Tszyu a brisk 10-round tussle.
I think something went out of Bailey when he lost a split decision to the durable Colombian Ener Julio to lose his title in an exceptionally punishing fight. The fight was not televised (not in the U.S. at least), one of the gems hidden away on a marathon Don King undercard. Bailey dropped Julio twice but he was knocked down himself and suffered a grotesquely swollen right eye. He was fighting one-eyed in the last few rounds. I saw it on tape and I thought Bailey was fantastically brave he could have quit and no one would have blamed him.
There followed a spell where Bailey was unable to win a big fight. He was knocked out by body punches from Diosbelys Hurtado (after putting the Cuban on the canvas), he lost on points to DeMarcus Chop Chopâ€? Corley and the welterweight Ishe Smith, and then Miguel Cotto went right through him in six rounds and it was not pretty to watch.
Bailey has not given up, however. He is 32, he has won his last five bouts, and on Friday he tops the bill for his new promoter, Warriors Boxing, in a scheduled 12-round IBA Continental junior welter title fight against Shawn Gallegos, from Albuquerque, NM.
This is a steppingstone type of fight for Bailey. There is no live TV but Azteca America will be recording it for later viewing. If Bailey can do a good job on Gallegos, who has a respectable record of 16 wins and two losses, it moves him a little closer to another big fight.
Bailey should win, of course. The word on Gallegos is that he has boxing ability he calls himself The Educatorâ€? but that he is not very sturdy. He was stopped in the ninth round by the unbeaten Jewish prospect Dimitriy Salita in August of last year in New York, a fight in which Gallegos was very game but simply got worn down.
What Gallegos will be trying to do against the older, presumably slower, Bailey is clear he will be trying to use the ring, pick up points and not get hit. Whether he can do this for 12 rounds must be considered highly unlikely.
Bailey is the stronger, more experienced and far harder-punching of the two fighters. The only question is exactly how much Bailey has left. He has been in hard fights and he has been stopped twice. It is possible, though, that with Warriors Boxing behind him he can gain a new lease on boxing life.
I think it may take him four or five rounds to catch up with an opponent who can move well, but once Bailey starts to find his range it will be very difficult for Gallegos to keep him off. Im thinking along the lines of a seven-round fight if this was the Randall Bailey of six years ago it would be a two-round fight.