IBF and WBC junior welterweight champion Devon Alexander (21-0, 13 KOs) had to dig deep last night (August 7) to grind out a close unanimous decision against Andriy Kotelnik (31-4-1, 13 KOs).
Early on Alexander was troubled by the timing of Kotelnik’s left jab. Kotelnik also found success with his straight right that would land whenever Alexander stood right in front of him with no angles. The opening three rounds were a matter of preference, as Kotelnik landed the cleaner singles punches compared to Alexander’s higher output and work to the body.
Alexander issues with Kotelnik mounted after the fourth after a dripping cut was opened above his right eye. Kotelnik found confidence and began taking steps foward to engage Alexander. The champion appeared hesitant to throw in close and got tangled up in the ropes after catching a left hook and straight fight hand. Alexander launched a flurry that elicited cheers from his hometown crowd, but failed to land any substantial shots.
Kotelnik continued picking off all of Alexander’s outside punches in the sixth. Kotelnik dominated up close, making sure to focus left hooks to the champion’s bleeding right eye. In the corner, Alexander trainer Kevin Cunningham was irate with his fighter’s strategy and implored him to stop standing right in front of Kotelnik.
Round eight was a barnburner. Both men decided to test each other’s chin on the inside with powerful hooks and straights. Devon seemed to get the better of it early on by varying his shots to the body. But Kotelnik reasserted himself late by bullying Alexander to the ropes and snapping his head back with straight rights. Cunningham was so exasperated with Devon’s performance after the round that he exclaimed “you’re getting suckered into some bullshit!” He followed his frustrating statement by asking in a concerned voice “are you alright?”
Kotelnik’s corner sensed victory, telling their man, that Alexander was “dead” and to go for the kill. In the 10th, Kotelnik let his hands go whenever Alexander was in range. Kotelnik timed his straight right at mid-range, and threw hard hook flurries whenever they were in-close.
Alexander started the 11th strong, backing up the challenger with hooks to the body and several one-two’s upstairs. But as had been the pattern in previous rounds, Kotelnik made things interesting with his own power punches on the inside. Going into the 12th, Alexander’s corner implored him to box safely and not get punished further up close.
Alexander followed the strategy early on despite eating a few stiff right hands. But in the last minute he stood flat-footed with Kotelnik and allowed the challenger to land more good shots to close out the fight.
All three judges scored the bout 116-112 for Devon Alexander.
“It was an ok performance,” Alexander admitted. “He’s a tough fighter and way better than the guys fighting at 140. I had to stay patient. He came ready and he trained hard for me…My left leg went out on me. But it’s ok I stayed in there….I want Bradley next. he keep talking that he’s the best in the division. I want him and whoever after that.”
For now, the 23-year-old Devon Alexander hasn’t yet earned his “Alexander the Great” moniker. But if HBO correctly makes the unification bouts with Timothy Bradley and Amir Khan, Devon Alexander can truly prove if he is the best in the division.
IBF titlist Tavoris Cloud (21-0, 18 KOs) passed the most grueling test of his career in scoring a unanimous decision over a determined Glen Johnson (50-14-2, 34 KOs).
In the opening bell both men took it to the inside and fought on even terms. Cloud was more active with hooks and straights for the majority of the round. But in the closing minute, Johnson outworked Cloud to finish the round. The second round saw Cloud do heavy work with the left hook to the body. But Johnson came back to stun Cloud badly with several overhand rights. Cloud would not fold early, and landed a thudding straight right to close out the round.
The Road Warrior didn’t let Cloud gain any momentum in round three. Johnson befuddled his young opponent with good upper body movement to slip punches, and nice work behind 62 jabs coupled with straight rights. Cloud did better in the fourth but still spent a lot of time standing around and letting Johnson punch. In the final minute Cloud took the fight to the outside and found a home for his counter right hand.
Cloud had a monster fifth round. After a slow first two minutes, Cloud hurt Johnson badly with a left hook high on the top of the head. Johnson was on rubbery legs for the rest of the round and nearly went down after being clipped with several more hooks.
The battering got worse in round six. Cloud almost exclusively targeted the head using both fists to crash home looping hooks. Johnson seemed out of it but suddenly exploded with a near 30 second flurry that stopped Cloud in his tracks. The unexpected attack kept Cloud in a defensive shell for the remainder of the round. Feeling rejuvenated, Johnson clamored to the crowd for applause as he went back to his corner.
Round seven belonged to Johnson. Cloud tried to box from the outside, but spent the entire round loading up left hooks while the Road Warrior outworked him with jabs and straight rights. Cloud pushed for the knockout in round eight with a fusillade of hooks that had Johnson stumbling around the ring. But as in the earlier rounds, Johnson remained upright and came back with several decent rights of his own. While Johnson was showing his warrior heart, Cloud’s punches had superior snap and were doing much more damage.
Amazingly, Tavoris Cloud decided to take the ninth off. Johnson threw over 100 punches compared to less than 50 for Cloud. None of Johnson’s punches had significant power, but his constant activity secured the round. Round 10 was extremely close; Johnson retained the higher punch output while Cloud landed harder isolated shots.
Cloud finally woke up in the 11th and punished Johnson with left and right hooks. Again, Johnson seemed close to going down and had to clinch twice to stop the Cloud’s attack. The veteran’s craftiness was enough to see him through the round.
Sensing the scorecards were not in his favor, Glen Johnson came out with fire in last round. He landed several good right hands, one of which stunned Cloud and made him retreat into a corner. Tavoris Cloud finished strong with hooks but it may have been too late to take the round.
Final scorecards for the contest read 116-112 all for Tavoris Cloud, who retained his IBF light-heavyweight title. The win puts Cloud in line to face the winner of Chad Dawson vs. Jean Pascal next week.
The post fight interview was a real treat for fans. Both men were gracious to each other, but went into a mini-debate about who won the fight and who got hurt worse. In the end, Johnson conceded he got stunned badly but wouldn’t admit he lost the fight.
Cory Spinks lost his IBF junior middleweight title on the untelevised undercard to Cornelius Bundrage. Bundrage won the fight via a fifth round TKO.