MIAMI () - Three-time, two-division world champion Randall "KO King" Bailey (44-8, 37 KOs) returned to the ring last Saturday night in Tampa for his first fight in 13 months, defeating Ecuador welterweight Humberto "Bam Bam" Toledo (41-11-2, 25 KOs) by way of an eighth-round disqualification for the vacant World Boxing Council (WBC) International belt.
Bailey battered Toledo from the opening bell right up to the bizarre ending, in which Toledo suddenly and surprisingly took a knee in the middle of the ring, only to get back up and get disqualified for pushing referee Frank Santore, Jr. into the ropes.
"I wasn't really surprised because I saw the way he was responding in the first couple of rounds," Bailey explained. "I was hitting him hard and often and he was looking to the referee to find a way out of the fight. The ref wasn't cooperating with him, so in the eighth round, he took a knee, jumped up and pushed the ref."
Bailey's veteran manager, Si Stern, couldn't believe what he was watching. "Randall looked very strong," Stern said. "I hadn't seen him move so well in years. Toledo started hitting Randall behind the head a bunch of times and below the belt. In the eighth round, he went down to one knee in the middle of the ring, got up, grabbed the ref and pushed him into the ropes.
"Randall proved he can still fight. He may be 39 but he has the body of somebody in their mid-twenties. He was never in wars and his body hasn't taken too much punishment over the years. Randall will be rated in the WBC's top 10 because he's the new WBC International champion. Next, I'd like to get him into a tougher fight and then a title eliminator. If everything goes according to plans, I think Randall will be fighting for another world title this summer."
Now a promotional free agent, Bailey had Chico Rivas as his chief second for the first time. "It was no difference this fight (with Rivas as head trainer)," Bailey noted. "He's been with me forever (as his assistant trainer). Everything was smooth. This is my last run and I feel good.
"After the fight, I felt pretty good other than needing to get my hands use to hitting somebody so hard with small gloves (unlike larger gloves used for sparring). I hurt both of my hands in the second or third round. No damage but they swelled up. It had been a whole year since I punched that hard wearing small gloves."
Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is the WBC welterweight champion, as well as the WBC and World Boxing Association (WBA) Super Welterweight title holder. If Mayweather gives up the WBC 147-pound belt, Bailey could be right in the mix of contenders. If he had a choice, though, Bailey would rather take on World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight champion Timothy Bradley.
"I'd want Bradley if I could pick," Bailey concluded. "He's avoided me his whole career."
In any case, though, one of boxing's most lethal pound-for-pound punchers is back, Randall Bailey.