By Gary Purfield
Fighters: Tim “Desert Storm” Bradley 26-0 (11 KO) WBO Junior Welterweight Champion vs. Devon Alexander “The Great” 21-0 (13 KO) WBC Junior Welterweight Champion
Where: The Silverdome Pontiac Michigan
When: Saturday January 29, 2011 10pm
TV: HBO World Championship Boxing
Last fight: Tim Bradley won a Unanimous Decision over Carlos Abregu (welterweight fight) Devon Alexander won a Unanimous Decision over Andriy Kotelnik.
The first major fight of 2011 kick offs with a much anticipated bout between two young undefeated American junior welterweight (140lbs) titleholders. Bradley and Alexander have been staking their own claims to supremacy in the junior welterweight division over the last few years and collide Saturday to further stake their claim. The fight is not for the Ring Magazine title due to Amir Khan holding the number two ranking but the winner is all but assured that number one ranking and a future with bigger fights and bigger pay days.
Bradley is certainly the favorite amongst most experts and fans to win but don’t make the mistake of assuming anything. This is a 50/50 fight between two talented fighters who are evenly matched. Let’s take a look at the styles and key elements that could be the difference. Quick note first, several of these categories it was very difficult to say one guy has the edge and certainly many may disagree with each piece of analysis (which is what makes this fight fun).
Boxing ability: Alexander is the pure boxer in the matchup. He circles to both directions, uses a stiff right jab from the southpaw stance to set up a powerful left cross and can hurt you with the uppercut from either hand. Bradley has more of a push forward style with pressure and volume punching. This category is even. Alexander is the better natural boxer but Bradley evens it out with more in his tool box including an inside and outside game.
Power: Both men are very strong but Alexander has the bigger knockout punch. Bradley throws punches in bunches but has never been known as a real knockout threat or devastating puncher. Alexander has shown the ability to really finish opponents. He overwhelmed Junior Witter to quit on his stool. Then Alexander knocked out the iron chinned Urango (remember this is the same Juan Urango that got off the canvas after eating shots from feared knockout artist Randall Bailey).
Speed: Both are considered fast (hands and feet). Bradley gets the edge in that he possesses that elite blinding speed. Bradley should be able to use his foot speed to get inside to do damage with quick punches. One X factor is while Bradley has faster hands Alexander’s punches are straighter and sharper (Bradley tends to loop many of his shots). Factor in hand speed and distance the punch travels and the speed category becomes a toss-up.
Defense: Both men can protect themselves but neither is a defensive wizard. Bradley’s defense is his offense with good head movement and fast reflexes. Bradley does leave himself open for counter punches when he gets excited throwing wide power punches (see the first round of the Holt Fight when he got careless and was dropped by a counter left hook). Devon gets the slight edge as he uses traditional defense including movement and a well tucked chin. Alexander did look vulnerable to straight right hands against Andriy Kotelnik in his controversial victory last time out. This will need to be corrected for him to win Saturday.
Stamina: Bradley and Alexander are supremely conditioned athletes who treat their craft as a 24/7 365 day a year commitment. Neither should have any trouble bringing it for three minutes of all twelve rounds. The edge here goes to Bradley who has more experience being in the deep waters. Bradley has shown he can be a bull dog from round one to twelve while Alexander had moments of fatigue against Kotelnik.
Chin: This is a wash. Neither guy has a questionable chin and both can take a punch. Bradley was dropped twice by Kendall Holt (only time he has ever been down) but there is no shame in hitting the deck against Holt who can punch with the best. Besides, Bradley got up from both knockdowns and won the fight. Alexander took some good shots from Urango and Kotelnik and was never in any real danger.
Experience: Bradley gets this one. Alexander has recently stepped up beating seasoned pros Witter and Urango convincingly and got a good ring lesson in his closed win over Kotelnik. However Bradley has taken on all comers including powerful Kendall Holt, veteran Nate Campbell, slick Lamont Peterson, and recently the bigger Carlos Abregu at welterweight. Bradley has been in more major TV fights and has been in the “big picture” or spotlight longer.
Wear and Tear: No concern for Bradley or Alexander. They both are young and neither has been in any dragged out career changing wars.
Keys to Victory
- Apply constant relentless pressure. Do not allow Alexander to find a rhythm and use his boxing skills.
- Do not blindly charge in without setting up the rush with jabs and movement to avoid being countered.
- Start fast and do not let up never letting he younger Alexander believe he is in the fight.
- Be the boxer. Use movement and shorter/straighter punches to be the more effective tactician.
- Take advantage of Bradley’s wide looping punches with quick counter punches especially his powerful left uppercut when Bradley charges in.
- Do not lose composure or become frustrated if Bradley gets rough especially leading with his head. No matter what stick to your skills and to trainer Kevin Cunningham’s game plan.
One last note: I am certainly not the first to say this but this fight belongs in St. Louis. They likely will not even draw 5,000 people to the Silverdome which is a shame considering the magnitude of this fight. Alexander is a good draw in his hometown and fights should be placed where butts will be in the seats, not where promoters get a sweet licensing fee.
Prediction: Very tough to call. I feel as if I am told who won after the fact I can tell you how it happened but struggle to pick which man will impose his game plan. I could certainly see Bradley overwhelming Alexander with pressure and even rough house tactics to bully the younger man and win a decision. I am going to go out on the ledge for this one and pick the upset. Alexander will have his scary moments but his smoother boxing, straighter punches, movement, and composure to get through the rough spots will give him a unanimous decision. I like Alexander to win six to seven rounds and a flash knockdown likely from an uppercut with Bradley rushing in to be the difference on the cards.
Check out past fights from each
Bradley vs Holt http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrYAljEhqy8
Bradley vs Peterson http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zt9Kw4Xoz3Q
Alexander vs Urango (highlights) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxHsJF137Eo
Alexander vs Witter http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_irHtxM-d4w
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