Bradley-Alexander: We knew going in that this might be a tactical fight. Timothy Bradley fights aggressively but is a thinking boxer and Devon Alexander is all boxer, which made their fight on Saturday somewhat interesting but less than thrilling. I won’t dismiss it as a disaster because I enjoy a good tactical fight but it served up precious few moments that got the heart racing. It certainly wasn’t the kind of scrap that brings fans to boxing. And the bizarre ending made it even worse. I’m comfortable in assuming that most of those watching had trouble understanding why Alexander couldn’t continue after the last of a series of head clashes, which denied us a complete fight. So this is what we were left with: A decent but relatively boring bout and an unsatisfying finish. That’s not exactly what we were hoping for.
Bradley: Perhaps lost in the lack of sustained action and strange ending in Michigan was the magnitude of Bradley’s victory. He beat fairly convincingly (at least on the cards) one of the best fighters in the world by effectively executing sound strategy, limiting Alexander’s ability to peck away from the outside by forcing his way in close for much of the fight. It wasn’t a memorable performance but it was a darned good one. Bradley isn’t a brilliant fighter but he strikes me as the type whose combination of ability, athleticism, fitness and determination will make him formidable against anyone for years to come. Of course, we’ll find out just how formidable in the near future. The victory is expected to lead to even bigger challenges before the end of the year.
Devon Alexander: Alexander gave a good account of himself in a losing cause against a top-flight opponent. No career was destroyed by one such setback. There already is talk of an Alexander-Marcos Maidana fight, which would give him the opportunity to bounce right back. That said, many observers were left with a bad taste because of the ending. Bradley’s head had just met Alexander’s left eye when he strode around the ring in apparent pain, opening and closing his eyes and complaining of a burning sensation. The ring doctor couldn’t get him to keep his eyes open, prompting him to order the fight stopped. However, in his post-fight interview moments later Alexander’s eyes were wide open. What gives? The doctor feared nerve damage, which obviously justifies his decision. And we almost have to give Alexander the benefit of the doubt. Still, a lot of people wonder.
Bradley-Khan: Bradley, rated No. 1 by THE RING, and No. 2 Amir Khan can now fight for the world junior welterweight title and determine without question the best 140-pounder on the planet. They should seize the opportunity for themselves and the fans, who would relish the matchup in spite of the disappointment on Saturday. Then, at least in my dreams, Manny Pacquiao would come back to down his natural weight and face the winner of that fight. Is that unreasonable? So who would win the Bradley-Khan fight? I’ve said all along that Khan is the class of the division and I’m sticking to it. Khan is a superb boxer with uncommon gifts. That said, though, I give Bradley a good chance to win. He’d use the same tactics against Khan that he used against Alexander, a swarming offense that suffocates a good boxer. Could work.
Bradley-Alexander rematch: HBO reportedly has an contractual option that would require a second fight between Bradley and Alexander. That wouldn’t be a good idea. Bradley-Alexander I was a fine matchup but almost doomed from the start. Ticket sales were embarrassingly slow at the Silverdome, reportedly in the hundreds well after they went on sale. An announced 6,247 ultimately showed up. The fight was a relative dud. And the ending, while not providing full closure, punctuated a promotion that was hardly memorable. All that doesn’t add up to a rematch. Bradley won the fight and the right to pursue even bigger matchups with the likes of Khan or Pacquiao. Perhaps Bradley-Alexander II could happen sometime in the future.
Chris Arreola: The heavyweight contender didn’t suddenly emerge as a legitimate threat to the Klitschko brothers because he stopped journeyman Joey Abell in one round on Friday in Temecula, Calif. He hasn’t convinced anyone that he’ll train hard from now on. However, he did show signs that he gets it. And who knows where that will lead? He took significant steps toward reform when he hired Ronnie Shields as his co-trainer and spent three weeks training in Houston, far from distractions back home in California. And it seemed to pay off. He was a bit trimmer than usual. He boxed well. And afterward he seemed to be on a natural high. “I feel really good physically. I want to keep feeling like this,” he said. Imagine if he spends six or seven weeks in Houston? Stay tuned.
Amir Khan: The talented junior welterweight and his advisors reportedly have made offers to prospective opponents far below the going rate, which has created a lot of animosity and left Khan without an opponent for April 16 in Manchester, England. Lamont Peterson and Paul McCloskey both appear to have rejected what they feel were unfair offers. Now it appears he’ll turn to either Michael Katsidis or John Murray, a Manchester fighter. We’ll see how that goes. Khan is guaranteed a seven-figure payday every time he fights, which is extremely good money. He can afford to give a legitimate opponent a piece of the pie commensurate with his ability. It might hurt in the short run but it could but a good long-term investment in his career.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: I’m not sure what to make of Chavez’s performance against rugged, but limited Billy Lyell on Saturday. On one hand, he seems to have developed a very good jab under Freddie Roach. And I like his hard, laser-straight punches. On the other hand, I expected him to handle a guy who was dominated and then stopped by Sebastian Sylvester and dominated by Vanes Martirosyan. Chavez had been out of the ring for seven months, which means rust might’ve played a role. However, the result was more an indication of Chavez’s limitations than anything else. He could next face capable and unbeaten Sebastian Zbik for the WBC middleweight title. That would be the first true test of Chavez’s career and the best gauge of how good he can be.
Fernando Vargas’ comeback: The former junior middleweight titleholder has announced that he’ll return to the ring against Henry Buchanan on April 16, ESPN.com reported. Vargas hasn’t fought since he lost a majority decision to Ricardo Mayorga in 2007. My first reaction is, “Uh oh.” I was covering him when Vargas, at 20, beat Yory Campas to become the youngest fighter ever to a 154-pound title. His unanimous-decision victory over Ike Quartey two years later was a masterpiece. However, he wasn’t the same fighter after he was knocked out by Felix Trinidad in 2000. He went 6-4 after that fight, including losses in his last three fights (Shane Mosley twice and Mayorga). That said, I think he might surprise me. The time off might’ve given his body time heal. He seems to be approaching his fitness properly. And he’s only 33. My fingers are crossed.
Bradley, about Alexander: “If that’s the best in the world, that’s weak.”