Devon Alexander's last two fights at home in Missouri were criticized for hometown bias in the scoring. But there was no need for that tonight at the Scottrade Center, as Alexander took care of business in his welterweight debut, dominating Marcos Maidana over ten rounds and winning a decision on scores of 100-90, 100-90, and 99-91. Bad Left Hook scored it 99-91 for Alexander.
Let's take a look at the punch stats, via HBO, before we go into the rest of this recap:
|Power Punches||85/328 (26%)||149/396 (38%)|
|Jabs||8/91 (9%)||19/97 (20%)|
|Total Punches||93/419 (22%)||168/493 (34%)|
Punch stats in boxing never really tell the whole story, except when they do, and this tells if not the whole story, at least a damn big chunk of it.
Povetkin MD-12 Huck | Cleverly UD-12 Karpency | Broner KO-4 Perez
Tonight we saw Alexander (23-1, 13 KO) return to the form that made him one of the hotter prospects and rising stars just a few years ago, returning to a commitment to his punches that saw him land harder, more telling blows than he has in his last three outings, repeatedly hurting the tough Maidana (31-3, 28 KO) with right hooks, straight lefts, and good body shots.
Also encouraging from Alexander's side tonight was an abandonment, to some degree, of his jab. The greatest criticism I've had of Alexander's last few fights, particularly the "wins" over Kotenik and Matthysse, was that he won on scorecards by pumping a jab that didn't even land. It caught judges' attention, but it wasn't landing, and it was so frustrating to see a phantom punch dominating the thought process of the official judges, and of HBO's Harold Lederman.
I'm not saying he couldn't stand to jab more, and he'll have to against fighters who aren't as one-dimensional as Maidana, but getting away from using that thing as a primary weapon made him a better fighter. He didn't address it explicitly, but it was probably part of what he was talking about after the fight, when he told HBO's Max Kellerman that he and trainer Kevin Cunningham reviewed the tapes to find what he was doing wrong, and set out to correct it.
"We went back to the drawing board to see what I was doing wrong," Alexander told Kellerman. "The weight, first and foremost -- I've been fighting at 140 since I was 15 years old. It was getting kind of hard to make. We moved up to 147, got the problem situated, and we're back on top."
In the sixth round, Alexander appeared to knock Maidana down as the result of a body shot, a right hook, and then a clean left hand, but he also pushed Maidana a bit, and referee Steve Smoger ruled no knockdown. Still, it clearly had Maidana on shaky legs, and Alexander believed it should have been ruled a knockdown.
"That was a knockdown. I hit him with a clean shot," he said.
"My power's there at 147. It was a left hand. He didn't see it. Speed kills in any sport."
Alexander also suffered a cut, and referenced what may have been the most criticized night of his career, his loss last year to Timothy Bradley, where he quit after what appeared to be a small cut caused by a clash of heads.
"I learned from that Timothy Bradley fight, you gotta work through that, you gotta work hard. Things are gonna happen in a fight, you work through it."
When asked what was next, Alexander didn't name names, but we can say this with 100% honesty: Devon Alexander doesn't duck fights.
"It don't matter. This is 147," he said. "I'm gonna continue to learn. I love learning. I'll fight whoever."
For Maidana's part, he simply did not look like the same fighter he has been in the past. Even if you've thought Maidana was a mediocre, crude fighter whose flaws were covered up by his sheer toughness and good punching power, you probably wouldn't argue that he's ever looked this bad before. He was exceptionally slow, didn't land one really big punch on Devon, and just did not look like he had the usual fight in his body. By the latter rounds, he was an obviously defeated man, still trying but also in some ways, just surviving.
He was brief when speaking to Kellerman through an interpreter.
"He's very fast, he's a lefty," said Maidana. "147 is not my division, but I did what I could."
As Maidana still holds his WBA "regular" title at 140 pounds, I think we can be quite confident he'll be heading back to that weight class. But Devon Alexander has arrived on the welterweight scene, and we just might have a legitimate player added to one of boxing's glory divisions.
Song of the Fight: