Mythic tales of super human feats rise out of boxing gyms around the world. If you want to hear a story about the greatest fight you never saw or the most vicious knockout that never occurred, talk to the folks who hang around gyms and you'll be regaled by stories that have seeds of truth but have been nicely embellished.
And then there are the tales of Randall Bailey, this soft-spoken lithe boxer from Miami who isn't the sort to call attention to himself.
There aren't a lot of Bailey tales floating around, even though there are plenty available to tell. But marveling about Randall Bailey's punching power has become as passé in his camp as getting excited that a light turns on when a switch is flipped.
It's an everyday occurrence that he does something that would awe a visitor to his camp.
One of his trainers, Chico Rivas, a boxing lifer from Florida, said he's seen so much in his seven years with Bailey that it would take far too long to recount them.
His promoter, the wily Lou DiBella, puts his Bailey's power on a par with the best he's seen in his three decades in the sport, equal to that of legendary punchers like Mike Tyson, Julian Jackson and Naseem Hamed.
Bailey himself laughs at the buzz his power creates. He's now 37 and long past the age when he is amazed by what his punches do to strong, well-trained, professional fighters. But he knows whenever he does an interview, it's a topic that never fails to arise.
"People just love them some knockouts," he says.
And Bailey, who will defend his International Boxing Federation welterweight bout Sept. 8 in Las Vegas against slick Devon Alexander, has delivered more of them than most.
Bailey isn't the sport's best boxer. He's nowhere near its best defender. And, despite his belt, he's probably not the best welterweight.
Best puncher, though? That's a hands down, 100 percent, total runaway in Bailey's favor.
It's usually wise to discount a lot of what goes on in sparring sessions. Sometimes, one fighter is working on something and, because of that, the other fighter looks better than he is by comparison. And fighters wear large gloves in sparring they often derisively refer to as pillows. The additional padding takes a lot out of the blows delivered with them.
Bailey, though, can no longer wear the 14-ounce gloves that most men wear. He was asked to put on 16-ounce gloves because he was hurting men – frequently, much bigger men – with his shots with the 14-ouncers.
"I couldn't get any sparring until I put those 16-ounce gloves on," Bailey said.
Rivas swears he's seen Bailey drop highly regarded super middleweights while wearing sparring gloves. He won't identify them because he said he won't embarrass them, but he said it's happened more than once.
Bailey fought Mike Jones on June 9 in Las Vegas on the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley undercard, competing for the belt vacated by Andre Berto.
It was hardly a compelling fight and after nine rounds, Jones was cruising toward a lopsided victory. Bailey's corner screamed at him between rounds, urging him to pick up the pace.
In the 10th round, Bailey fired the combination that he was taught the first day he walked into the gym as a 14-year-old, the old one-two. He caught Jones between the eyes with a jab, then instantly followed with a straight right hand.
The surprise was not that Jones went down when the right landed. The shocker was that he managed to get up.
But in the 11th, Bailey hit Jones with an uppercut that floored the Philadelphian. Jones got up, but fell back down, much like Trevor Berbick did when he was knocked out by a 20-year-old Tyson in 1986 as Tyson became the youngest man to win the heavyweight title.
Bailey has had some hellacious knockouts in his career – his finishes of Carlos Gonzalez, Gato Figueroa and Demetrio Ceballos are legendary – but the win over Jones ranked right up with the best of them.
He was extremely emotional in the ring after because of what the win represented. He last held a world title back in 2003 and had, quite literally, traveled the world in search of greatness once again.
He never gave up because he has the one weapon that keeps him in every fight he's in, no matter how far he's behind.
"He's the hardest hitting guy in boxing by a large margin," DiBella said. "He's the one guy who could lose every round, land one punch and go home a champion."
Bailey first pulled on a pair of gloves at 14, when he walked into a Florida gym. The trainer taught him the jab and the right hand and told him to practice it against older boys.
Bailey started landing it against kids who were older and who had fought before and quickly noticed a strange reaction from them.
"They were just like, 'Whoa! What was that?' " he said, laughing. "It's a gift I have. I was banging out guys right from the beginning."
That ability might hurt him in one way. As a welterweight belt holder, he's automatically in the mix for a big-money fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Manny Pacquiao.
That said, it's unlikely he'll get either of the sport's cash cows in the ring because he's too great of a risk for not enough reward. They'd only be safe when the final bell rang.
But he's not giving up hope and will continue to trudge forward.
"I'm just trying to do what I can do to position myself for the biggest fight," he said. "If I take care of my business and do what I do, everything else will take care of itself."
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