With a triumph that came 15 days after his 25th birthday, the southpaw out-boxed, out-maneuvered and, at times, stood toe-to-toe and out-slugged the hard-hitting Maidana (31-3, 28 knockouts) to restore his reputation as one of the best young talents in the game before a partisan crowd at the Scottrade Center in his native St. Louis, Mo.
Alexander convincingly won his welterweight debut, 100-90, 100-90 and 99-91 on the scorecards, overcoming a bloody cut suffered in the third round to improve to 23-1 with 13 knockouts.
In victory, Alexander rebounded from a series of lackluster performances, having lost his WBC junior welterweight belt following an 11th-round technical decision loss to unbeaten Tim Bradley in January of last year, and escaped with a 10-round decision win over Lucas Matthysse in June.
Prior to facing Bradley, Alexander won a disputed decision over former titleholder Andriy Kotelnik in August of 2009, and blamed extreme weight loss for the efforts against Kotelnik, Bradley and Matthysse.
Having faced Kotelnik and Matthysse in St. Louis Family Arena and Scottrade Center, respectively, Alexander was perceived to have benefitted from home-cooking by the judges.
Alexander had also received criticism for quitting against Bradley, a bout whose verdict was determined by the scorecards after Alexander claimed he could not continue as a result of an accidental clash of heads that opened a large cut over his right eye.
Ortiz-Berto II will take place on June 23 at either the MGM Grand in Las Vegas or the Staples Center in Los Angeles, according to Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer, who plans to “have Devon back in late July or August or something like that.”
“The only fight that really makes sense is for Devon to fight the winner of Ortiz-Berto. That’s the fight we’re looking for. Everybody’s going to call out Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao,” said Cunningham.
“But the realistic goal for us would be the winner of Ortiz-Berto. Title or no title. That’s a huge fight, and those are the types of fights we’re interested in.”
Golden Boy Promotions matchmaker, Eric Gomez, says the Ortiz-Berto II winner could be a real option for Alexander.
“Definitely, definitely. Of course. Devon’s a player now at 147, so we’re going to see what happens,” said Gomez. “Any of the champions and any of the top guys at that weight. Alexander is going to be considered for all of the big fights now.”
RingTV.com spoke to Alexander on Monday regarding his performance and his future:
RingTV.com: Can you take us through the fight from the earlier, tense moments, to the later rounds where you seemed to be more relaxed and into a groove?
Devon Alexander: Well, the first thing that I did was I tried to calm myself down. Me and my coach, Kevin Cunningham, we were working it out.
We were trying to see where I was getting tired and not letting my punches go. That was because I was trying too hard to press the issue. I was trying too hard to get my punches off, and trying too hard to make a statement.
I was trying too hard to just go out there and blow the guy out. So what we did was we analyzed it and said, “man, we just need to relax and let the punches flow for us.”
RingTV.com: When do you feel that you began to settle down?
DA: I would say that after the second or third round, I got the jitters out and started to relax. I got to seeing that he was, you know, kind of easy to hit. I just needed to calm down and realize that it wasn’t what I thought it would be.
It wasn’t just him coming forward and pressing the issue. I just had to relax and let my punches flow. So after the third round, it became clearer to me that I was way too skillful and way too slick and way too fast for him. So that’s what I started to use to my advantage.
As the fight went on, I got to start to feel better and better and more confident and relaxed. I just continued to follow the game plan. At some point, I started to feel stronger, so I decided to sit there and try to hurt him and let him feel some of my power, so that’s what I did.