Devon Alexander: A victory over Marcos Maidana doesn’t make you a superstar. The Argentine is as fierce as any fighter in the world but his skills and natural tools are limited. Plus, he didn’t seem to bring his power from 140 to 147 pounds. He didn’t buzz Alexander once. OK, now that those disclaimers are out of the way … damn, Alexander looked terrific on Saturday in his hometown of St. Louis, where he won a one-sided 10 round decision. Alexander (23-1, 13 KOs) did something to Maidana (31-3, 28 KOs) that no one had done: He beat him up. Alexander was a sharpshooter when he wanted to be, picking Maidana apart with hard, accurate shots. And he was rough when he had to be, a prerequisite to beat one of the toughest hombres in the sport. Alexander also looked comfortable at the welterweight limit, where he obviously will stay. Is Alexander finally realizing his vast potential? It sure looked like it on Saturday.
Marcos Maidana: Moving up to 147 pounds wasn’t a good idea after all, particularly against an opponent as talented as Alexander. Maidana was as fierce as ever at certain points of the fight but was never really in it. Alexander consistently beat him to the punch, landed harder shots inside and out and – surprise! surprise! – took everything the Argentine had to offer. Maidana could do nothing. It probably was the worst night of Maidana’s career. It would be foolish to count him out, though. He’ll most likely return to 140 pounds, where he’ll have more punching power and confidence. He’ll also be angry after his performance on Saturday, which might not bode well for whoever his next opponent is. Maidana will never be on any pound-for-pound lists but he has more big fights in his future, which is good news for fans who love a true warrior.
Adrien Broner: People I respect in the boxing business gave Eloy Perez a decent chance of upsetting Broner on the Alexander-Maidana undercard. Perez, who entered the fight unbeaten, is well schooled, gritty and confident. He is also not in Broner’s league, which is what played out on Saturday. Broner was too big, too fast and just too good, which is why Perez (23-1-2, 7 KOs) couldn’t survive the fourth round. Broner (23-0, 19 KOs) is the real deal; if he doesn’t have it all, he certainly has enough to crack pound-for-pound lists in the near future. Lest we get carried away, I should point out that he was lucky to earn a close decision over Daniel Ponce de Leon only a year ago. That was more a product of his youth – he’s only 22 now – and Ponce de Leon’s considerable ability than any chink in his armor, though. I only hope that Broner doesn’t evolve into an unlikeable character. It’s so much more fun when the good guys succeed.
Alexander Povetkin: One could argue that Povetkin (24-0, 16 KOs) did enough to beat Marco Huck (34-2, 25 KOs) on Saturday in Stuttgart, Germany. One must also acknowledge that the Russian was taken to the brink by a cruiserweight-turned-heavyweight who entered the fight as a distinct underdog. Povetkin seemed to be in control after the third round, as if Huck was in over his head. The Serbian-born German then started cracking back and a beatdown became a war. The fighters landed about the same number of punches but Huck’s seemed to do more damage, which seemed to portend an upset. Judge Philippe Verbeke scored it 114-114, which was reasonable. Judges John Coyle and Stanley Christodoulou scored it 116-113 and 116-112 in Povetkin’s favor, which wasn’t. Thus, Povetkin retained his perfect record. Povetkin’s manner in his post-fight interview said a great deal, though. He was bewildered, as if he didn’t know quite what had happened. He knew he was lucky to escape unscathed.
Marco Huck: Huck lost to Povetkin on the scorecards but undoubtedly won in the court of public opinion. No one gave him much of a chance against one of the best big men in the world, one who outweighed him by about 20 pounds, but he proved to be both effective and fearless. I thought Huck landed the more-telling blows, which is why I had him winning 115-113. The judges thought otherwise, which was a setback for Huck. We saw what we saw, though: a strong, legitimate heavyweight who probably could compete with anyone not named Klitschko. Huck has to decide whether he will go back down to the cruiserweight division. He’d be crazy to do that. He emerged on Saturday as a capable and marketable heavyweight, a division in which he could make a fortune. He should remain in his new neighborhood.
WORST PERFORMANCE: Someone forgot to tell Huck-Povetkin referee Luis Pabon that fighters are supposed to fight. The official from Puerto Rico turned in one of the most-intrusive performances in recent memory, seemingly breaking the fighters every time they came together. I could see breaking fighters who are entangled, which happened on a number of occasions Saturday. Pabon took it a step further, though. He apparently decided that he didn’t want the principals to fight at all inside, which is a part of the game. The result was a choppy fight that was very good but could’ve been even better. The best performances by referees are those that go unnoticed. Pabon was at least as conspicuous as Povetkin and Huck, which was disappointing. He isn’t a bad referee, which is why he was chosen for the assignment. But he was awful on Saturday.
Nathan Cleverly’s performance: OK, no one can be overly critical of a guy who won every round on all three cards to beat Tommy Karpency (21-3-1, 14 KOs) in Cleverly’s home country of Wales. The talented WBO light heavyweight titleholder boxed beautifully, mixing up hard punches to the head and body throughout a ridiculously one-sided fight. One thing was missing, though: The wow factor. Everyone knew that Cleverly (24-0, 11 KOs) would dominate Karpency, a decent but obviously limited journeyman from western Pennsylvania. We were hoping for something special – a knockout, a knock down, a bloody nose, something. Nothing. Cleverly got the job done, which is the most important thing. And perhaps we should give him the benefit of the doubt in one sense: Sometimes it’s very difficult to get motivated for a far inferior opponent. Still, as good as Cleverly was, many of us expected more. He still has a lot to prove.
Povetkin, on Huck after their fight: “I underestimated him. Perhaps I didn’t take this fight seriously enough.”
Follow Michael Rosenthal on Twitter @MichalRosenthal