Later that night, Alexander received a phone call from Floyd Mayweather Jr. "I just wanted to tell you," the proud champion said, "when I pass the torch, I'm passing it to you."

Boxing had a new star. In the next morning's Post-Dispatch, Miklasz gushed, "Alexander has unofficially been anointed as one of boxing's next-generation stars...He has a crowd-pleasing style. He aggressively sets up in the middle of the ring to engage his opponent...He fights with heart. And that sells tickets and draws viewers."

If Alexander were to retire today, the Urango fight would be considered his peak. It wasn't long before the fall.

Jennifer Silverberg
Jennifer Silverberg

His next fight, against Andreas Kotelnik in August 2010, was supposed to be a coronation of sorts. It was his first big time fight in front of his hometown fans, the biggest boxing event in St. Louis since Cory Spinks fought Zab Judah in front of 22,000 people five years earlier. A nine-to-one favorite, Alexander was to showcase his laudable style and demolish Kotelnik the way he had demolished Corley, Witter and Urango. It didn't work out that way.

Kotelnik baffled Alexander with his European-style, square-footed defense and squeezed in power shots at each rare opening. While Alexander threw nearly 300 more punches, he landed on less than twenty percent. His work rate would pay off, earning him enough rounds for the judges to award him a unanimous decision. Yet many boxing writers and fans agreed with Kotelnik when he said after the match, "If the fight were anywhere else but here, I would be champion."

Kellerman, who thought Kotelnik won, dubbed the champion "Alexander 'The Good.'" Miklasz, who thought Alexander won, wrote, "Had Kotelnik been awarded the decision, I wouldn't have complained."

Six months later came the Bradley match, in which he suffered his first loss and got tagged with the "quitter" label. Almost as bad, many thought the fight was boring as hell. Because Bradley appeared to be the aggressor most of the time, Alexander carried the blame for the dud.

The doubts lingered through his next fight when Alexander faced off against Lucas Matthysse last June in St. Charles. After Alexander controlled the first three rounds, Matthysse knocked him down for the first time in his career in the fourth. Alexander rallied, though, and the two men fought an exciting and tightly contested match, ending with a bruising punch-for-punch finale. Alexander won by split decision, pushing his record to 22-1. But, for the second time in a year, many viewers, including HBO announcer Larry Merchant, disputed his victory.

What almost everyone could agree on was that Alexander's star had dimmed since the Urango knock out.

"He's had three fights where a lot of people think he's 0 and 3," says Rafael, quick to note that he believes Alexander rightfully won both hometown decisions. "To be honest, he's shown that he may not be as good as a lot of us thought he was."

When the details of the Maidana fight were announced, its location immediately stood out. St. Louis is the city that will draw the biggest crowd for this bout, the city in which Alexander's fame was built. But it is the city that played a role in denting Alexander's reputation as a fighter.

"You have to wonder if Maidana knows the history of Alexander's fights in St. Louis," wrote Michael Collins, at the boxing news site, echoing the sentiments of many sportswriters. "If he did, Maidana would have to be dragged kicking and screaming all the way to the Scottrade Center."

Alexander admits that his last three fights have strayed from the script that accompanied his ascent to the national stage. Still, by most measures his career has been an astounding success.

He escaped poverty. He fought on Showtime and HBO. He was crowned world champion. He raked in more than $3 million in purses.

Last year he became the first member of his family to own a house. When the afternoon training session is finished, Alexander drives his charcoal Dodge Charger the five minutes it takes to reach his St. Charles subdivision. The decor inside the four-bedroom home could be described as minimalist.

The only indicator of the resident's profession is a solitary Alexander v. Maidana promotional poster lying on a table in his dining room. Down in the basement, past the pool table and flat screen, in a room littered with children's toys, a stack of photos and portraits celebrating his in-ring accomplishments leans against the wall.

Alexander has three kids, ages two, five and six, who live with their respective mothers but often stay with their father. Recently Alexander tore through the suburban dad to-do list, redoing the deck off the kitchen and installing a jungle gym in the backyard.

One might even call his life dull. His mother does.

"My mom says I'm boring," confesses Alexander, as he plops on his living room's black leather couch. "I never was a crowd type of guy, being around people and stuff. I never got into drinking and smoking, never really went to clubs. When I was younger I went to a club a couple of times and I was just like, 'This is it?' It wasn't all it's cracked up to be. I'm with my family a lot."

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