By John Kovach
YOUNGSTOWN — Another bout with championship potential and overtones in the 155-pound lightweight division has been added to the World Extreme Cagefighting show that will be Sept. 2 at the Covelli Centre.
Veteran Alex “The Assassin” Karalexis (10-4, 4-2 WEC) of Las Vegas will battle relative newcomer but undefeated Anthony “Showtime” Pettis (7-0, 1-0 WEC) of Milwaukee, with the winner getting in line for a WEC lightweight championship bout.
They will join two others on the card who also are in the WEC lightweight championship mix — No. 1 contender Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (10-1) and Ben “Smooth” Henderson (9-1) — who will battle it out to see who will challenge current champion Jaime Varner for the title later this year.
Cerrone (6-0, 155), 26, from Albuquerque, N.M., a kick boxer and bull rider, was in town on July 9 training at the South Side Boxing Club to help kick off the announcement of the upcoming show that will be televised on Versus.
Cerrone and Henderson (5-9, 155), 25, a wrestling specialist from Glendale, Ariz., are matched in an elimination bout to see who will challenge Varner.
Cerrone lost to Varner on Jan. 25 in a title bout because, in part, he kicked Varner illegally in the head which stopped the fight.
Varner not only was woozy from the kick to the head but also suffered a broken hand, and still is sidelined.
Karalexis (5-8, 155), 31, a native of Boston who has returned to his hometown to train, and Pettis (5-10, 155), 22, believe that the winner of their bout will advance to fight the Cerrone-Henderson-Varner survivor for the WEC lightweight crown.
Neither of the five fighters has fought each other as yet.
“I have never fought Pettis, Cerrone, Henderson or Varner. A win will put me 5-2 in the WEC Division, and so far as I know, no other 155 pounders in my division have five wins,” said Karalexis, who like Pettis is a martial arts expert.“Pettis is undefeated. This is what you want in a fight, to have a challenge. This is a great opportunity to see what I can do.”
And he admitted that it “will set me back a little if I lose.”
Karalexis said this also would be a big win for Pettis.
“I am a veteran. I have been around. I think that [Pettis] is one of the younger guys in our division. If he can beat me, a guy who has been around awhile, that will be a big win for him, and puts him in the championship mix,” Karalexis said.
He said his weight class has a lot of good competitors and has attracted interest.
“Within the next year and a half, there will be plenty of interest in our division to see how it plays out competitively,” said Karalexis, emphasizing that the bouts at the Covelli Centre have a lot of importance to the fighters.
“These bouts will have something to say as to who will be champ. These are not just good matchups but matchups that can determine a career,” he said.
Pettis agrees with Karalexis that a win could mean a title shot down the road.
“That definitely is the case. The winner probably will fight for the [championship] after the Cerrone-Henderson-Varner [outcome],” said Pettis, who has had only one WEC bout while Karalexis has had six.
“It will be the veteran against the newcomer. He has been around for awhile. I am only 22. I was a little boy when I watched him fight in the UFC [Ultimate Fighting Championship],” said Pettis, who scored his first WEC win in June.
“This will be his second WEC fight. My debut was June 7 against Mike Campbell. I won in 49 seconds of the first round.”
Like Karalexis, Pettis sees this as his big chance.
“This will be an opportuntiy to get a championship fight. Whoever wins this next fight will be in line for the title,” said Pettis, who hopes to remain undefeated and “make an impression and make them give me a title shot.”
Pettis said his specialty is the martial arts.
“My specialty is as a standup fighter, but I am good on the ground. I have been doing martial arts since I was 5,” said Pettis “I feel right at home in the WEC.”