Devon Alexander kept his two junior welterweight titles and his undefeated record in his hometown of St. Louis, beating Andriy Kotelnik in the main event on scores of 116-112 from all three judges. But the decision is going to meet some criticism. Bad Left Hook scored it 117-111 for Kotelnik, and everyone scoring along in our live thread had a similar score, all scores for Kotelnik.
It was a fight that was interesting, to say the least. Kotelnik (31-4-1, 13 KO), from my view, was landing consistently harder, cleaner, better shots, timing Alexander all night. HBO's Harold Lederman put in one of his all-time worst performances tonight, scoring it 117-111 for Alexander. It's not even the score that bothers me as much as Lederman's analysis, which centered on Alexander throwing more. Alexander had a horrible time landing clean on Kotelnik the entire fight, but was busier for sure. Much of that energy wound up being completely wasted, realistically, as Alexander wound up huffing and puffing some in the latter stages of the fight. Though that early energy probably did actually end up winning him the fight, in practice it just tired him out and did no damage to Kotelnik.
Alexander (21-0, 13 KO) met the sort of challenge tonight that basically all young fighters meet, no matter how good they are. Kotelnik and his team had an excellent gameplan, and Alexander and his team just didn't. I think that was a big difference in the fight. Alexander's physical skills were on display, but I didn't think he was genuinely effective in this fight. I am not going to be someone that counts out Alexander's potential career because of this. Styles make fights. We saw Amir Khan dominate Kotelnik, now we've seen Kotelnik give Alexander all he can handle and then some. And yet I still think Alexander -- while probably not the favorite he may have been before -- is a tougher test for Khan than was Kotelnik, and if Khan and Kotelnik fought again, it would look like it did the first itme.
As for Kotelnik, it was arguably the best performance of his professional career. He was really good tonight, preying on Alexander's overaggressive nature and picking him apart with counters, with a sturdy jab, and negating him with a good defense. Even the shots Alexander did land were rarely very effective.
But we'll move on, because that's all that's going to happen. Alexander continued to say he wants to fight Tim Bradley next, and I'm betting Bradley is now salivating over that prospect on January 29. Hopefully Kotelnik can find a good fight, too. I wouldn't mind seeing a rematch with Marcos Maidana.
In a grueling co-feature, Tavoris Cloud retained his light heavyweight title belt by winning a competitive fight over veteran Glen Johnson on scores of 116-112 across the board. Bad Left Hook scored it 115-113 for Cloud (21-0, 18 KO). Johnson (50-14-2, 32 KO) seemed to tire late in the fight, and was hurt at a couple of points. But both fighters did some very good work throughout the bout. Johnson, 41, felt he had won the fight, as he usually does, and having been jobbed so many times has led Johnson to being a bit peculiar with some things like that. After almost every round, he will motion to the crowd or celebrate, seemingly in hopes of convincing someone that he won the round, no matter what happened.
But it was a good fight. It wasn't the great fight many of us felt it could have been, but both fighters left the rings with their heads held high. They did a bit of what felt like some scripted back-and-forth afterward, and I wouldn't rule out a rematch. The money options in the U.S. are shallow for Cloud, and if his team is smart, they won't put him in with Chad Dawson next (should Dawson beat Jean Pascal next week). Cloud has some kinks to iron out still, but he's definitely a fighter, and one of the better fighters out there at 175 for sure. He cemented that tonight.
Off television, Cory Spinks was beaten up and knocked out in the fifth round by Cornelius Bundrage, losing his 154-pound trinket in his hometown. From the descriptions of the fight I've read, and from seeing Spinks' last two fights, my feeling is that Spinks' legs are gone at 32. He was such a footwork and reflexes-heavy fighter in the past that it was always really just a matter of when his legs left him, because without much power and with something less than a great chin, Spinks doesn't have much to fall back on. This fight less makes Bundrage a truly top-tier guy at 154 than it does take Spinks out of the discussion. He's had a fine career, but it might be coming to an early end.