pics David Martin Warr
By Jason Pribila: Devon Alexander won his first world title last August. He looked sensational making his HBO debut when he stopped Juan Urango in March. Talks had already begun about the possibility of him meeting Timothy Bradley in January to determine who the number one fighter is at junior welterweight. He was rewarded by being given the opportunity to headline in front of his hometown crowd in St. Louis’ biggest arena. The evening would serve as both an arrival and launching of Alexander’s star potential. There were only two things that were overlooked: Alexander is only 23 years-old, and no one told Andriy Kotelnik that he was not supposed to win.
Things began according to plan when Alexander raced out to an early lead by showcasing both his foot and hand speed. Right jabs, hooks, and an occasional left to the body scored early and often.
Kotelnik, 32, a medalist from the 2000 Summer Games, never panicked and subtly made adjustments that would eventually swing momentum to his favor.
Alexander was clearly more comfortable fighting from the outside behind his jab, but Kotelnik was soon able to score by landing his own jab over Alexander’s. Kotelnik was able to keep his left foot on the outside of Alexander’s right foot and catch the squared-up Alexander with straight right hands. Although Kotelnik was improving each round, he was not able to sustain the action long enough to impact the score cards.
Alexander suffered a cut over his right eye due to an accidental clash of heads in round four. And although his work rate remained high, his connect rate remained low. The head-snapping punches were clearly being delivered by the alleged lighter puncher, Kotelnik.
As the fight entered its second half, there were times that Alexander fought as if he was forgetting to breathe. Some of the flurries he threw resembled fight scenes from the movies. They were delivered with speed, but not necessarily the intent of connecting with the opponent in front of him.
The instructions that the fighters received in their respective corners between rounds clearly told the story of what was unfolding during the rounds.
Kotelnik was instructed to, “Forget about boxing and go out and fight”.
While Alexander received the equally emphatic, “You need to box. Run off combinations and move.”
The fight seemed to be on the table as they entered the championship rounds. The audience benefited from the fact that only one of the fighters (Kotelnik) was listening to their corner, which led to an exciting sprint to the finish.
Alexander controlled round 11 in the middle of the ring. He finally sat down on his punches, and moved forward rather than being caught trying to move side to side. This was clearly a round where a home crowd could have impacted the official scores.
The final round started by Kotelnik landing a big right hand only to be answered by Alexander arm punches. A Kotelnik right to the chin seemed to momentarily wobble Alexander, but he steadied himself and returned one-twos. A three punch combination from Kotelnik seemed to steal the final round and earn him a 114-114 Draw on my card.
The reading of the official scores was far less dramatic. Once the word “unanimous” was read it was clear that Alexander retained his titles. And although 116-112 was closer than Howard Lederman’s 117-111, it was a little surprising that all three cards were identical.
Afterwards Alexander admitted that he was in a very tough fight. “I think I did enough to win,” said a relieved Alexander. “It was an OK performance. You know I am my own toughest critic. Don’t let anybody tell you that Andreas Kotelnik in not a tough fighter.”
While Alexander gave Kotelnik a lot of credit, he was not foolish enough to suggest a rematch.
“I want Bradley next,” Alexander said. “He keeps talking that he’s the best in the division. I want him next.”
After this bout, I’m sure that Timothy Bradley wants it too.
The official attendance was announced as 9,117. However, there was one gentleman sitting ringside that was worth noting. Floyd Mayweather Jr. was next to promoter Don King, which no doubt fuels speculation that “Money” is none too happy with Golden Boy Promotions, and he may potentially sign with King. Bob Arum has already been quoted as saying that he felt that he would be able to work out a deal for a Pacquiao-Mayweather with King over a weekend.
Wouldn’t it be ironic if Golden Boy Promotions, who claimed that their mission was to clean up the sport of boxing, found themselves on the outside looking in as the biggest fight in the world is made by the two men they tried to protect the sport from?
August 7, 2010