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With Opioid Battle Behind Him, Devon Alexander Returns Victorious

Last night on Premier Boxing Champion’s Toe-To-Toe Tuesdays, former two-time world champion Devon Alexander made a successful return to competition. 

Alexander (27-4, 14 KOs) returned after an over two-year layoff to take the unanimous decision over veteran fighter Walter Castillo (26-4-1), who couldn’t get away from Alexander’s aggressively accurate left hand. 

In the second round, Alexander showed his prowess when, in the closing seconds, he sent a shot straight down the middle that sent Castillo soundly to the canvas. From there it was all she wrote as Alexander’s offensive tenacity bested the Nicaraguan.

Alexander vs Castillo Highlights: November 21, 2017 – PBC on FS1

Visit PremierBoxingChampions.com for info. On November 21, 2017, Devon Alexander returned to the ring after a two-year layoff to face Walter Castillo in a scheduled 10-round 147-pound headlining bout at The Coliseum in St. Petersburg, Florida. The fight was broadcast live on FS1 as part of the Premier Boxing Champions series.

“This feels really good,” said Alexander in the post-fight interview. “I’ve been on a journey that I didn’t expect to go through and I’m thankful to be back in the ring and have my career back.”

The true victory last night was Alexander’s defeat of his opioid addiction, which had sidelined him since 2015 after his loss to Aaron Martinez. The St. Louis native, who is trained by Kevin Cunningham, looked noticeably lethargic in his losses to Martinez, Amir Khan, and Shawn Porter, who took Alexander’s IBF world title in 2013. 

The difference was seen by Cunningham in the gym, first where he noted a lapse in Alexander’s signature power and speed after his notorious fight against Marcos Maidana in 2012. An injury that was caused by a head-butt Alexander took during a pre-fight sparring session caused concern for his trainer, who forced his fighter to see top-level doctors after swelling and pain increased. 

They found blood clotting in Alexanders nose and prescribed him Tramadol. The drug worked quickly in reducing the pain and swelling But as an opioid, the drug is also highly addictive. Alexander’s quest to remain pain-free created a secret dependency.

Although Alexander, would win his next two fights – including claiming the 147-pound title by unanimous decision over Randall Bailey in October 2012 and defending it several months later by retiring Lee Purdy in seven rounds –  his decreased output was noticeable to boxing pundits and his trainer alike.

Fast-forward to the loss to Aaron Martinez and Cunningham’s decision to sideline the fighter until he cleaned up and defeated his addiction. Alexander went into rehab and focused on eliminating the drug from his body. After many months of commitment, he returned to the gym with a newfound fortitude and rediscovery of his pop in sparring. 

“I love doing what I do,” said Alexander. “This is what I was born to do since I was seven years old. I’m thankful to be back doing what I love. I’m going to talk to my coach and my team and see what we can come up with next. I’m ready to fight anybody out there. I don’t have any cuts so I’m ready. I’m on a journey and I’m thankful to be here.”

With a new outlook on life and a return to the drug and alcohol-free lifestyle that made the 30-year-old southpaw a two-time world champion, Devon Alexander is back like he never left. 

Now with all eyes on the highly competitive welterweight division, he is laying the groundwork for another run at a title, solidifying him as a true champion that overcame the biggest battle of his life, addiction.       

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