By Kirk Jackson
Former Junior Welterweight Champion Devon Alexander 22(13)-1 is facing WBA Junior Welterweight titlist, Marcos Maidana 31(28)-2, Saturday night in Alexander’s home town of St. Louis, in a 10 round Welterweight clash.
Photo: Tom Hogan/ Hogan Photos
Perhaps following the lead of Amir Khan and Timothy Bradley, both fighters are looking to establish themselves in the more lucrative Welterweight division, where it seems where all the money and fame is.
Alexander, looking quite pedestrian in recent bouts is aiming to impress in his first fight in the Welterweight division.
“The rumor’s out that I didn’t look good my last few outings against Kotelnyk, Matthysse, and Bradley, so I was aiming to make a statement regardless. Like I said, it’s my debut at 147, and I’m going to be ready to rock and roll,” said Alexander.
Andriy Kotelnyk, Lucas Matthysse and Timothy Bradley are the last three opponents Alexander faced prior to his upcoming bout with Maidana this Saturday.
In each of his last three fights, Alexander struggled and ultimately lost to Bradley in a fight that was hyped to up to be the second coming of the action packed slugfest “Hagler-Hearns”.
Not only was it a dull fight, but Alexander looked like he didn’t want to be in the ring. His last few fights he failed to live up to his moniker and did not look so “Great”.
Alexander attributes his recent struggles in the ring to making weight for the bouts.
“I feel much better at 147. I don’t have to cut the weight like I had to in the Matthysse fight, and you’re definitely going to see a different Devon,” said Alexander.
Alexander added, “I’d say the last couple of fights I’ve been struggling to make 140. It’s been harder when it usually would be a walk in the park for me. But these last couple of fights I’ve been struggling and training all week just to make 140.”
Whether it’s the weight issue, or a step up in competition, or whatever the case may be, Alexander definitely has to raise his level of performance to a higher plateau if he wants to reclaim some of the fans he lost and legitimately place his bid in the mix for future big fights in the welterweight division.
The last time Alexander fought in his hometown however, his performance was berated by critics and fans alike. Going up against Kotelnyk, the Ukrainian controlled the fight and made it a rough night for Alexander. So much so many thought Kotelnyk won the fight.
A good thing for Alexander in facing Maidana is the Argentinian is more of a brawler compared to Kotelnyk.
Although Maidana is coming off quick work of Petr Petrov, he struggled against aging legend Erik Morales, getting hit with clean shots all throughout the fight in route to a majority decision victory. Khan was tagging Maidana from all over before the relentless pressure and hard punching began to overwhelm Khan, making the fight very close towards the end of their fight.
There is a blue print to beat Maidana, and although Alexander may not possess the same hand speed as Khan, he still has the tools to beat Maidana. He is going to have to use more than his basic jab if he wants to win this fight.
He has upper tier speed in his division, he is accurate, and has a pretty good chin and punch output. He does a decent job of slipping punches and is a capable counter puncher.
Alexander needs to give angles, circle around the ring, throw a combination everywhere and there, fight a thinking man’s fight. Of course the jab will be crucial to his success, he can use it to control Maidana and disrupt his rhythm. But Alexander can’t be dependent on the jab, he has an array of moves to use, he needs to remember that.
Most importantly he needs to remain composed under the relentless pressure he is going to come across. Because Maidana brings the pressure and he will leave it all in the ring.
Alexander witnessed pressure somewhat similar to what his opponent on Saturday will bring having gone up against his fellow countryman Lucas Matthysse in his last bout.
Although many including myself thought Alexander lost, he can use the experience from that fight moving forward and I believe he will edge out a tough win against Maidana.
His strongest asset (the jab), will play a key part in keeping Maidana at bay, and he is going to have to open up that tool shed and use accurate shots to go work on Maidana’s body and wear this unrelenting warrior down over time.
Having not looked too good in his last few fights, losing credence with the fans and critics, this grand opportunity is just the shot he needs to show the world what he’s made of. Either a contender for more championships and big fights against the premier names of the sport, or reserve the right to be an opponent or eventual gate keeper when it’s all said and done.
It’s either now or never for Alexander.