(Devon Alexander, under stress; via)
Over the weekend, everyone completely lost their sh*t over what happened in the Devon Alexander-Andriy Kotelnik junior welterweight fight. It was rather unlike boxing fans. They’re well-known for refusing to see conspiracy theories without any hard evidence; for refusing to write off a talented young fighter who encounters difficulty for the first time in his career; for refusing to think that anyone with a different opinion from them is a war criminal.
Let’s review, shall we?
- Robbery, or no robbery. I know a good number of you out there had it as wide as nine rounds to three for Kotelnik. But there were also a good number of you who thought it was a close Kotelnik win; a draw; or a close Alexander win. There’s been some name-calling in the online world toward anyone who thought it was anything but a Kotelnik wipeout, which is the kind of thing I should be dead to but still manages to get my dander up. I know how they feel, in a way — I thought super middleweight Andre Dirrell got robbed against Carl Froch last year, and still don’t see how anyone scored it for Froch, but I retracted my “robbery” declaration once it became clear a very good number of reasonable people scored it for Froch. I still very much disagree with the decision, mind you. When you think one fighter won it easily and others don’t, it’s tempting to think ill of them and say so. But here are some of the people you have to write off as unreasonable or blind that scored it for Alexander: ESPN’s Dan Rafael; The Sweet Science’s George Kimball; Ring’s William Detloff; i.e., three of the best boxing writers there are. It’s a partial list, one that leaves off people like Geoffrey Ciani of On The Ropes Radio, Bernie Miklasz of The St. Louis Post Dispatch, etc. etc. I’ve disagreed with most of those men on occasion, even often. But if all of them thought Alexander won, who’s crazy: all of them, or anyone who calls someone crazy for thinking Alexander won?
- Alexander’s performance. Alexander gave himself a D-. Sounds right to me. But was it an indicator of his overall quality as a fighter? I’ve seen in a couple places remarks to the effect that Alexander was overhyped because of a couple wins. Give me a break. Those “couple wins” (which leave out wins over the likes of DeMarcus Corley, Jesus Rodriguez and some other trial horses) were over top-5 junior welters, Junior Witter and Juan Urango. He deserved to be ranked #2 in one of the deepest divisions in the sport. If he was overrated, who isn’t overrated? It’s possible that Kotelnik exposed some of his flaws, but he didn’t expose Alexander as a fraud, or else everyone would have knocked out Witter and Urango. Here’s my view of what actually happened: Kotelnik was better than many thought; Kotelnik’s qualities exposed some weaknesses in Alexander’s game; and Alexander froze a little in the spotlight, with all the attention he was getting from The New York Times and St. Louis Rams and so forth.
- Next for Alexander. The fight with #1 junior welter Timothy Bradley could be finalized soon for January. Bradley comes down on the “Alexander is flawed” side of the ledger, and points out some things that Alexander legitimately needs to improve on from the Kotelnik fight. I still don’t think Bradley should come in as a big favorite. A favorite, yes, but not a big one. One of the things interesting about 140 is that all the top men have flaws, not just Alexander. Against Bradley, I can see the bigger-punching and faster Alexander or Amir Khan catching Bradley on his only-OK chin and knocking him out. I can see Bradley and Khan comprehensively outboxing Alexander. I can see #4 man Marcos Maidana knocking out Khan, or Khan making him look stupid.
- Next for Kotelnik. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to see Kotelnik back on HBO at some point. He won some fans the other night with his performance. HBO has its favorites, sure, but consider that Maidana got on after upsetting Victor Ortiz; middleweight Dmitry Pirog is likely to be on again after upsetting Daniel Jacobs; junior welterweight Paulie Malignaggi got back on after a disputed loss to Juan Diaz. I think Kotelnik-Maidana II is a desirable fight because the first was good and close, plus the post-Ortiz Golden Boy connection for Maidana means that fight would provide Kotelnik an “in” back to the network.
- What Alexander and Tavoris Cloud learned. I’m inclined to be bullish on the chances that Alexander and Cloud are better next time around thanks to their narrow wins Saturday night. Yes, both of them looked worse than before, but I’m in the “every young fighter needs a tough bout like this” crowd. They both had to batten down the hatches, survive a gut check and both now realize that they’re capable of losing if they don’t step their games up. Alexander said he knows he needs to move his head more on defense, for instance. Cloud needs to not take stretches off, and presumably knows that now. Steve Kim said it first — a younger Glen Johnson stops the young light heavyweight, because a younger Johnson doesn’t lose steam on his punches in the later rounds the way he did against Cloud.
- Glove controversy, again? This bears watching — Cloud stands accused by the Johnson side of switching gloves illegally.
- Two good fights. Regardless of what you think of the cards, Alexander-Kotelnik and Cloud-Johnson was as good a doubleheader as there’s been all year. Hadn’t said it yet. Don King doesn’t promote as much as he used to, but when he focuses himself, he does it well. It’s funny lately how King has looked good — people trying to imitate his stacked undercards from decades past, the possibility that he can make Floyd Mayweather come to the table for a welterweight mega-fight with Manny Pacquiao, the occasional good card here or there.
- Ricky Hatton. Yeah, he was in the HBO graphic of top junior welterweights. No, he shouldn’t have been.
- Next for Cornelius Bundrage. The new junior middleweight titlist said, in all honesty, that he wanted Mayweather or Pacquiao. Comedically, that speaks for itself. But good for him for beating Cory Spinks, and good for him for aiming high, I guess. I bet he’ll get himself a decent fight at 154. Howsabout Yuri Foreman in a rematch? That first fight wasn’t satisfactory, ending in a no-contest due to a cut. Foreman wasn’t boring in his last fight, and reportedly Bundrage wasn’t against Spinks, either.
- Prenice Brewer. I covered all the weekend results here except the upset of Brewer, a 140-pound prospect, by Patrick Lopez. I’m all in favor of not crapping on prospects who suffer their first loss, but this one really came as no surprise. We thought he didn’t look great against Christopher Fernandez, a tough kid that the top prospects dispense with far more easily than Brewer did. Some of the recent prospects and young fighters who were recently allegedly “exposed” — like Daniel Jacobs and Alexander — had proven something by at least beating the usual trial horses, often spectacularly, while Brewer never had. (P.S.: If Jacobs was a fraud built up by connections to Al Haymon and HBO, someone show me a prospect in 2009 who got more done, cuz in 2009 most of the major outlets labeled Jacobs the Prospect of the Year. Yes, I’m still annoyed about THAT, too.)