Skills: Both Bradley and Alexander are busy and aggressive boxers with solid skill sets. Bradley possesses immense physical strength but he doesn’t rely on it. The Palm Springs native is a versatile fighter who can swarm or stick and move on his opponents. Alexander is a sharp southpaw technician with good power. Both young titleholders possess decent footwork, accurate jabs and both are excellent counter punchers. Bradley has a little more variety to his offense than Alexander, including a good body attack, however, the St. Louis native possesses tighter technique.
Power: Alexander, who stopped five consecutive opponents — including iron-chinned Urango — prior to going the distance with Andreas Kotelnik, appears to have more pop on his power punches than Bradley, who has not scored a knockout since he stopped journeyman Nasser Athumani in April of 2007. It should be noted that six of the eight fighters Bradley has faced since Athumani were RING-ranked contenders at the time or are currently rated by the magazine. However, Alexander’s ability to hurt and drop Urango, a two-time titleholder who had never been stopped, suggests his power his real. Bradley can punch as evidenced by the knockdowns he scored of usually durable veterans Witter and Edner Cherry, however his inability to drop or stop Holt, who has been knocked out in three of his four losses, suggests that he lacks world-class power. Alexander’s good timing, slight edge in speed and better punching technique probably accounts for his greater power.
Speed and athletic ability: This is a tough category to decide as both Bradley and Alexander are clearly athletically gifted. Both young men are equally coordinated and both possess quick reflexes. Both have fast hands and feet, but Alexander appears to have the edge in speed. Both are strong, although Bradley, who has fought well at heavier weights, seems to do more with his considerable physical strength during his fights.
Defense: Bradley has a more varied offense than Alexander, who usually sticks to the basics, but he sometimes leaves himself open for counter punches when he sets his feet and unloads. Bradley, who tends to square up in front of his opponent when he lets his hands go, is also a little more wide with his main power punches (the right hand and left hook) than Alexander is with his shots.
Experience: In the past four years Bradley has faced a future lightweight titleholder (Miguel Vazquez, who he dominated to a 10-round UD), a former unified lightweight beltholder (Campbell), two current 140-pound titleholders (Witter and Holt, who gave him 24 quality rounds in losing efforts), and two undefeated contenders (junior welterweight standout Peterson and welterweight slugger Luis Carlos Abregu, both of whom he handled over the 12-round distance). Alexander’s last three opponents were top-10 contenders (Witter, Urango and Kotelnik), however, prior to Kotelnik the best fighters he faced were fringe types (Jesus Rodriguez) and faded veterans (Corely and Miguel Callist).
Chin: Alexander has never been down. Bradley was down twice against Holt. However, before one assumes that Alexander has the better whiskers it should be noted that Holt possesses a frightening blend of speed and power, and Bradley got up immediately from both knock downs (suffered in the first and 12th rounds) with a clear head. Alexander was rocked more than once during the second half of his tough fight with Kotelnik, who is not known for his power.
Conditioning: Alexander and Bradley are supremely conditioned athletes. Both pride themselves on the high level of fitness they maintain throughout the year, whether or not they have a fight scheduled. In fact, it’s safe to say that both titleholders are obsessed with their conditioning. However, Bradley, who has fought 12 rounds in five of his last six bouts, is more proven over the championship distance than Alexander, who has gone 12 rounds three times but appeared to fade late against Kotelnik.
Wear and tear: Both fighters are in their prime and despite one tough fight each (Alexander against Kotelnik and Bradley against Holt) neither has taken an extended beating in the ring.
Corner: Both fighters are fortunate to have had two of the best young trainers in the business in their corners since the start of their professional careers. Alexander has been with Cunningham since he first put on a pair of gloves. Bradley, who was trained by his father in the amateurs, brought in Diaz, a former lightweight title challenger, to be his head coach at the start of his pro career. Cunningham, who also trained Cory Spinks to the undisputed welterweight championship and a 154-pound belt, did a fantastic job instilling old-school boxing fundamentals into Alexander. Diaz, who trained other world-class boxers including his brothers, Julio and Antonio, did an excellent job refining Bradley’s raw talent and helping him to adapt to the professional style. Alexander and Bradley are well-rounded boxers and they have their trainers, in part, to thank for it. Both Cunningham and Diaz also share a good rapport with their fighters and appear to communicate well with them during fights.
Outcome: The fighters will start fast with controlled intensity. Both will work busy jabs and feints while attempting to maneuver themselves into position to land accurate power shots. The fighters will alternate stalking forward and utilizing lateral movement in the early rounds. Bradley will be the first to risk a power attack by bulling his way in close and working Alexander’s body with left hooks. Bradley will try to bring the hooks up to Alexander’s head in hopes of landing over the southpaw’s right jab but he’ll miss and open himself up for the St. Louis native’s counter straight left. The first left that Alexander lands directly to Bradley’s chin or temple will momentarily wobbly him, but the Palm Springs native will grab and hold until his head clears. Bradley will recuperate quickly and attempt to retaliate before the round ends. The two will trade blazing combinations until the bell and they will continue this aggression through the middle rounds of the bout, which will feature numerous rapid-fire exchanges. Bradley will get rocked again during an exchange but he will continue to recover quickly and retaliate as Alexander, the busier and more consistent puncher, begins to slow down in the late rounds. Sensing his opponent’s fatigue, Bradley will again charge in and work Alexander’s body with a brutal two-fisted attack. The body punches will take their toll and force Alexander to the ropes but the younger fighter will remain dangerous because of his speed and accuracy. Bradley will take his foot off the gas pedal in the final two rounds, content to outmaneuver Alexander and occasionally step in with quick combinations, figuring he’s done enough to win the bout. Alexander will pursue Bradley behind a piston-like jab and straight lefts until the final bell. The ringside media will be split on who they thought won the bout.
Prediction: Bradley by close, perhaps split or controversial decision.
Michael Rosenthal contributed to this feature.