Every now and then we’ll watch a fighter grow up in front of our eyes. We’ll see them develop from a prospect to a champion, potential transformed into success. Every now and then we`ll see this fighter in front of his hometown with thousands of fans in the stands, cheering and supporting their very own home grown fighter. Every now and then a network will tell us that this kid is the next big thing, he’s going to be great, he’s who we are supposed to watch. Devon Alexander was that kid, HBO was the network, and Don King is his promoter.
We’ve watched Alexander`s last 5 or 6 fights on HBO, and early on we`ve seen the potential that was being force fed to us. He retired Junior Witter on his stool after 8 rounds, Witter had never been KO’ed in 41 fights before that. He beat up Juan Urango and KO’ed him in 7, Urango had never been stopped before that fight. As a matter of fact, Urango had never been on the canvas as a pro before that and many considered Urango a very tough fighter. I don’t know what happened to Devon since then, but we’ve been seeing a different fighter in the ring.
In August of last year, Alexander got a fight in his hometown of St. Louis against Ukraine native Andriy Kotelnik. Alexander, defending his IBF and WBC light welterweight titles looked average at best throughout the fight. Alexander was dealing with a cut over his left eye from a accidental headbutt and was extremely uncomfortable from the pressure applied by Kotelnik. All 3 judges scored the fight 116-112, Kotelnik felt he was robbed. Hometown advantage? Don King advantage? Go Youtube the fight.
Earlier this year, Alexander and Timothy Bradley clashed for what many thought was a super fight in the jr welterweight division. Alexander’s WBC and Bradley`s WBO titles were on the line and again we saw Alexander bothered by a fighter who constantly pressured him throughout the fight. Alexander was cut over the right eye due to an “accidental” headbutt in the third round and the “accidental” headbutts continued all night long from Bradley. The fight was stopped in round 10 due to a Bradley headbutt over Alexander’s left eye but there was no cut, the cut was over his right eye. Hmmm? Oddly enough, in the post fight festivities Alexander said he was butted on the other side where the cut was, but several replays showed differently. Hmmm? Another strange factor was that all 3 judges had the bout scored for Bradley (97-93, 96-95 and 98-93). How could that be you ask? The fight took place at a neutral site in the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan. No home field advantage? Did Alexander quit due to Bradley’s pressure? What happened to our fine young champion?
In an attempt to bounce back, I’ll give Alexander credit for taking on Lucas Matthysse (28-2 26 KO’s) last night, who was not going to be a walk in the park. Matthysse gave Zab Judah all he could handle in their fight back in November at Judah’s new home in the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. He even put Judah on the canvas late in the fight. Zab would walk away with the split decision win and Matthysse got his first lesson in home field advantage.
Last night in … ahem ahem, Saint Charles, Missouri (about a 30 min drive from St. Louis) the Devon Alexander of late showed up again. Matthysse took a page right out of the Kotelnik/Bradley playbook and pressured Alexander all night long. According to HBO’s punchzone, Matthysse landed more punches and from watching the fight, you could see that Matthysse’s punches hurt Alexander at times, even dropping him for the 1st time in his career with a straight right hand to begin round 4. The right cross would be the weapon of choice for Matthysse, but he also mixed in some uppercuts and hooks to the body as well. Alexander flurried here and there with his little pity pat punches but didn’t clearly win a round until the 9th. Again Devon would make it to the final bell where his friends could save him.
At best Alexander should’ve come away with a draw but this is where Matthysse would get his 2nd lesson in home field advantage and his first in Don King 101. Devon Alexander (22-1 13 KO`s) was awarded a split decision win, losing on one judges’ scorecard 96-93, but he won on the other two scorecards 95-94 and 96-93? Judge Danny Nelson gave Alexander 6 rounds and Judge Carlos Colon of Puerto Rico gave him 7? I don’t quite understand what judges think they are doing to help this sport when they score fights with their eyes closed. Lucas Matthysse deserved better than this for his efforts and he might be “the” light welterweight that no one talks about or wants to face in the future. As for Devon Alexander, he should give Matthysse an immediate rematch at a neutral site. Somewhere where “things” like what happened tonight wont happen as easily. After all, if we wanted to watch something fake, wouldn’t we watch wrestling?
Joey Santana can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org