ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Devon Alexander and Adrien Broner both wanted to make statements against their tough opponents on their shared HBO Boxing After Dark double header at the Scottrade Center on Saturday.
Alexander, a former junior welterweight titleholder who took on rugged Marcos Maidana in his welterweight debut, wanted to prove that he belonged in the heavier weight class. Broner, who made the first defense of the WBO junior lightweight title he won last November against crafty and battle-tested Eloy Perez, wanted to show that he’s the best fighter in the 130-pound division.
Both speed merchants made their points with emphatic victories.
Alexander (23-1, 13 knockouts) outboxed and outmuscled Maidana to a unanimous decision. Broner (23-0, 19 KOs) knocked out Perez in the fourth round.
Although Maidana (31-3, 28 KOs), a top 140-pound contender, was also coming up in weight the Argentine veteran is one of the strongest, hardest-punching and most feared junior welterweights in the game. Maidana has lost fights but no one has ever come close to dominating him – until Saturday.
Alexander, who won by scores of 100-90 (twice) and 99-91, did not more than outmaneuver Maidana and beat the raw slugger to the punch – he hurt his relentless foe.
The 25-year-old southpaw teed off with his right hook in the fourth round. He doubled Maidana over with a straight left to the body in the sixth, and probably would have scored a knockdown had he not shoved the veteran down to the canvas.
Alexander also took his share of punches. Maidana landed a few flush right hands in the early rounds but nothing he landed appeared to stun Alexander. He also pounded Alexander’s body whenever the two grappled on the inside, but nothing seemed to affect the hometown hero.
The roughest rounds of the fight – and both fighters landed their share of low blows and rabbit punches – the kind of rounds that Maidana usually thrives in, were dictated by Alexander. Maidana slowed down in the late rounds, while Alexander got stronger.
Alexander’s trainer and manager Kevin Cunningham credits the added weight for Alexander’s increased stamina.
“His energy wasn’t sapped in this fight the way was in his last few fights at 140 pounds,” Cunningham said. “Devon started having a problem fighting at junior welterweight with the (Andreas) Kotelnik fight. He hit the wall at 145 pounds before the (Lucas) Matthysse fight. He had to stop eating and dry out to make weight for that fight and it showed in the late rounds.”
Alexander beat Kotelnik and Matthysse by controversial decisions in St. Louis. Those bouts and his technical decision loss to Tim Bradley, which ended when he couldn’t (or wouldn’t) continue after getting cut with a headbutt made many fans wonder if Alexander was as good as he was once touted to be.
He recaptured his form against Maidana.
“I believed in my skills,” Alexander said during the post-fight press conference. “That’s why we moved up to 147 pounds. I felt very strong at this weight. I also learned from my other fights. I learned against Matthysse that you’re going to get roughed up and you have to stand your ground sometimes to get respect. I learned against Bradley that you’re going to get cut but you have to fight through it.
“I was cut tonight. It was a tough fight, a tough night. I had blood in my eyes but I didn’t let it bother me. I just fought my fight and proved that I’m a versatile boxer. I can box and I can punch.”
Fans are eager to see if Alexander can box and punch against true welterweight contenders.
Maidana, who did not attend the post-fight press conference, plans to return to the 140-pound division, according to representatives of Golden Boy Promotions, which put on the HBO-televised card.
“I think the winner of Humberto Soto-Lucas Matthysse is a good fight for Maidana,” said Robert Diaz, one of Golden Boy’s matchmakers.
Few fans would disagree. But what’s next for Alexander?
Cunningham said the winner of the Victor Ortiz-Andre Berto rematch, which takes place in June, makes sense.
“We’re looking for big fights,” said Cunningham, who would like to get Alexander back in the ring by late June or in July. “Everybody calls out Floyd (Mayweather) and Manny (Pacquiao), but we’re realistic. We want big fights that will actually happen. I think the Ortiz-Berto winner is a good fight. And if Khan wants to move up to 147 pounds, we’ll fight him.”
Broner, a 22-year-old boxing prodigy form Cincinnati, didn’t specify who he would like to fight next, but one thing is certain, the WBO titleholder is ready for anyone in the division.
Perez (23-1-2, 7 KOs) is not well known but the 25-year-old California-based boxer is a technically sound seasoned competitor. However, Broner was too big, too fast and just too talented for Perez to compete with.
After dropping the first three rounds, and even getting toyed with in the third round, Perez was nailed by a straight right that froze him in mid punch. Broner’s reflexes were so quick he was able to get in a follow-up right to the back of Perez’s head as he fell to the canvas. Perez struggled to his feet but referee Gino Rodriguez wisely waved the bout off at 2:24 of the round.
“He did his homework and he beat me,” Perez said at the post-fight presser. “There was a size difference but no excuses. Broner’s a champion and he deserves to be.”
Perez, a Washington native who lives in Salinas, Calif., will likely return on the undercard of the Robert Guerrero-Selcuk Aydin fight in nearby San Jose on July 28.
Broner could be back on May 19, on the Lamont Peterson-Khan undercard, or even earlier. Whenever he returns and whoever he fights, the flamboyant young boxer-puncher vows to entertain.
“I give y’all much to see but I put on a good show,” he said at the post-fight presser. “Eloy came to fight. He’s a good fighter, 23-0. Somebody’s ‘O’ had to go and I said no. Hook-right-goodnight. I make hard work look easy.
“If (Yuriorkis) Gamboa or (Brandon) Rios want it at a catchweight, they can come get it.”
Broner spouted rehearsed rhymes – “call me the ‘CAN-man’ ‘cause anybody can get some, Mexi-CANs, Afri-CANS, Ameri-CANs, even republi-CANS – in response to most of his questions from the media. It didn’t take long for the sports writers to stop asking questions.
Broner had a response to the silence.
“I’m sorry if I intimidate y’all,” he said. “Just take pictures. I look good.”
He certainly did on this night.
Photos / Tom Hogan-Hoganphotos-Golden Boy Promotions