By Michael Norby: Undefeated American southpaw Devon Alexander won the vacant WBC junior welterweight world title on Saturday night with a ninth round TKO victory over former champion Junior Witter after the Englishman quit on his stool between rounds at Agua Caliente Casino in Rancho Mirage, California, USA.
Alexander 19-0 (12) the highly skilled left handed youngster from Missouri, had never before faced a fighter as accomplished as his opponent this evening. The 22-year-old fought extremely well, however, and he controlled the fight with a level of focus and patience that belied his relatively modest professional experience. For Witter 37-2-2 (22) the 35-year-old who spent a lot of time in the run up to this evening’s contest talking about future ring exploits, the manner of this defeat will be exceedingly difficult to overcome.
Alexander was careful to begin, throwing out his jab with Witter searching menacingly for an opening. The youngster’s speed was making it difficult for the former champion to zero in with his right hand and he stumbled and hit the canvas midway through the round as Alexander slipped a left hook. Things got messy in the final minute as both guys wrestled on the inside without landing punches prompting referee Dr. Lou Moret to plead for distance.
Witter began the second with a decent left hook to the body but he again missed wildly at times as Alexander slipped under a series of punches. Blood began to seap from the Englishman’s mouth at the minute mark due to a clash of heads and Alexander worsened matters as he began to land his jab more frequently. Witter connected with his best punch of the fight thus far when he snapped his opponent’s head back with a counter left hook but he was wobbled briefly in the closing seconds when Alexander cracked a short right hook against his chin.
Alexander’s confidence and focus was beginning to take hold now and he pocketed points regularly with his jab and he hurt Witter again with another right hand in the opening minute of the third round. The British fighter responded with a crucial hook of his own that deterred his surging opponent from attacking but, with blood now leaking for above his right eye, Witter looked second best in the contest thus far. Another big right hook, Alexander’s most effective weapon, landed flush with thirty seconds remaining in the frame to cap off a dominant round for the undefeated American.
Witter’s usually terrific timing was non-existent this evening and he continued to miss badly with his punches in the fourth and fifth rounds. The sporadic success that the former champion did enjoy, most notably with a left hook in the fourth and with his jab in the fifth, was not enough to stop Alexander’s controlled and effective output. A massive straight left hand midway through the round again buckled Witter and prompted him to hold on desperately but the old veteran drew on his experience and was able to frustrate his young opponent’s follow up attempts and did just enough to make it out of the round.
Witter was a little more controlled for much of the sixth as both guys traded jabs and exchanged single, hard punches to the body and head. The Englishman got messy late in the round, however, and was again stunned by a right hand at the bell – the fourth straight round in which he was stung. In a quieter seventh, Witter was much improved and he out-jabbed his opponent and was able to dodge several assaults by Alexander but he did not look capable of landing anything damaging as the American continued to avoid his power shots.
Witter was given a warning by Moret in the eighth for holding and Alexander enjoyed the benefits of the reprimand from then forward. He rattled off a slew of short combinations and he thoroughly controlled the action throughout the rest of the round.
Before the beginning of the ninth, however, Witter decided that he had had enough. The Englishman was not taking a lot of punishment but both he and his corner elected against competing for another four rounds, thus handing the world title to a deserving and delighted Alexander.