Commentary

Alexander announces his arrival

Originally Published: August 3, 2009
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com


A roundup of the past week's notable boxing results from around the world:

Saturday at Rancho Mirage, Calif.
Junior welterweight
Timothy Bradley Jr. TKO3 Nate Campbell
Retains a junior welterweight title
Records: Bradley, 25-0, 12 KOs; Campbell, 33-6-1, 25 KOs

Rafael's remark: Nothing like a little controversy in boxing right? The official result, a third-round TKO for Bradley, may not stand up if the California commission does its job the way it is supposed to. The bout should have been ruled a no-decision because there is crystal-clear video evidence that the cut over Campbell's left, and what he says was impaired vision in the eye, was caused by a brutal accidental head butt, not a punch as ruled by referee David Mendoza. If ever there was a case to illustrate the exact reason why limited replay should be used nationwide in boxing, at least in those fights that are televised, this bout is the poster child. Campbell adviser Terry Trekas told ESPN.com barely an hour after the fight that he had already begun the necessary paperwork to lodge a formal complaint with the California commission.

That said, however, it does not take away from an outstanding performance from Bradley, 25, who was faster, more accurate with his punches and in total control through the three completed rounds. Bradley, fighting 10 minutes from his hometown of Palm Springs, had won a title in England against England's Junior Witter in May 2008. He defended it twice, including winning a hard-fought unification bout against Kendall Holt in April. But boxing politics forced Bradley to give up one of the belts. He retained the other one against Campbell, 37, a former unified lightweight titlist who was moving up in weight. Campbell had failed to make the 135-pound lightweight limit for a February mandatory defense against Ali Funeka and was stripped of the titles at the scales. He went out and defeated Funeka the following night and then officially moved up to junior welterweight, where Bradley was willing to give him a shot.

Whether it was Campbell's age or just an off night, he didn't look like the fighter that upset Juan Diaz or even the weight-drained fighter who outpointed Funeka. Instead, he looked slow and unable to get his shots off. Bradley took advantage. He worked Campbell's body very well from the outset and had a huge third round. He was landing shots, and then came the head butt, after which Bradley continued his onslaught with Campbell pinned in the corner. After Campbell took even more punishment as the round ended, he went back to his corner with blood pouring from the cut and complaining that he was seeing spots in his eye. At that point, Mendoza called off the fight on advice from the ringside doctor. Mendoza said he saw the head clash but believed the cut was caused by one of the punches that immediately followed the head butt. On replay, however, none of those punches appeared to land anywhere near where the cut had opened. Campbell was angry with the call and tried to make his case before leaving the ring so he could have a more thorough medical exam. Trekas told ESPN.com that the cut was not the reason Campbell couldn't continue. He said the doctor said that Campbell suffered some sort of bleeding behind his eye that was the cause of his vision problems.

Since the fight was an optional defense for Bradley, it seems unlikely that a rematch will be ordered even if the result is changed to a no-contest (in which case, Bradley would still retain the title). Had there been no head butt, it appeared to be only a matter of time until Bradley stopped Campbell, so a rematch probably won't excite anyone, including Showtime, which bankrolled the fight. The best Campbell can probably hope for is that the result is changed to a no-decision so the TKO loss comes off his record. If Showtime decides it wants the rematch, Bradley and promoter Gary Shaw probably would be game. It's hard to see a rematch going much differently.

Junior welterweight
Devon Alexander TKO8 Junior Witter
Wins a vacant junior welterweight title
Records: Alexander, 19-0, 12 KOs; Witter, 37-3-2, 22 KOs

Rafael's remark: Alexander went from prospect to titlist all in one night as he easily turned back former titleholder Witter to claim the belt Timothy Bradley vacated after unifying titles against Kendall Holt in April. Alexander, 22, of St. Louis, has been one of the top prospects for the past few years, but promoter Don King did very little to advance his career, leaving him on the shelf for long stretches while delivering almost no television exposure. But when Alexander finally got the opportunity to fight for a title on Showtime, he delivered in dominant fashion. Witter, 35, of England, resorted to what has been the knock on him throughout his career as he tried to stink Alexander out. Witter's wild, funky, eye-sore style is agony to watch and has to be tough to fight against. All he does is throw wild shots, switch from lefty to righty, hold, wrestle and run. It has been effective in the past, but it's miserable. Alexander, however, stayed calm and poised and followed the game plan of trainer/manager Kevin Cunningham, who is one of the most underrated trainers in the game. Considering the step up in competition and the unpredictability of Witter's punches, Alexander did a tremendous job. The southpaw simply broke Witter down. He buckled Witter with a right hook at the end of the second round, opened a cut over his right eye in the third (perhaps from an accidental head butt caused by Witter leading with his noggin) and rocked him with a left at the end of the fifth round. Witter, who couldn't land too many clean shots, was given a hard warning by the referee for holding in the eighth round, when it was clear he was fading. After the round, Witter, with a look of resignation on his face, quit on his stool, apparently out of frustration for his inability to do anything positive in the fight because he was taking a beating. His instincts were right, because Alexander led 80-72 and 79-73 (twice) on the official scorecards after the end of the eighth round. Witter left the ring quickly but when Showtime's Jim Gray caught up with him in the dressing room, he tried to put forth what sounded like a very weak excuse -- that he had injured his elbow. Whatever it was, let's be thankful he quit so none of us, or Alexander, had to suffer through another four rounds of that miserable performance. But let's also give big props to Alexander, who, after years of showing so much promise, delivered big time in his biggest moment. He's young, fast, hungry and is going to be a handful for any 140-pounder out there.

Saturday at Uncasville, Conn.
Welterweight
Isaac Hlatshwayo W12 Delvin Rodriguez
Wins a vacant welterweight title
Scores: 116-113, 116-112 Hlatshwayo, 115-113 Rodriguez
Records: Hlatshwayo, 29-1-1, 10 KOs; Rodriguez, 24-3-2, 14 KOs

Rafael's remark: Nine months ago, Hartford, Conn., resident Rodriguez went to Hlatshwayo's turf in South Africa for a title eliminator and they battled to an exciting draw. It was a legitimate decision, not just a hometown call that saved Hlatshwayo from defeat. Eventually, titlist Joshua Clottey vacated his belt to take a big-money showdown with Miguel Cotto and Hlatshwayo and Rodriguez were ordered to fight a rematch for the vacant title. Rodriguez promoter Joe DeGuardia won a purse bid, so this time Rodriguez had the home-field advantage at the Mohegan Sun resort, an hour or so from Hartford. It didn't help as Hlatshwayo pounded out the split-decision victory to claim the belt. Rodriguez, 29, started pretty fast and did very well through the first three or four rounds, including landing a right that hurt Hlatshwayo in the second round. Eventually, he had Hlatshwayo's left eye swollen, but Hlatshwayo, 31, came on during the middle and late rounds as Rodriguez began to fade, and Hlatshwayo squeaked out the nod in another fast-paced fight. It was Hlatshwayo's sixth fight in the United States, where he fought two of his most important bouts: a decision win against Nate Campbell and a decision loss to Kendall Holt.

If you didn't see the pay-per-view webcast of the fight, promoter Lou DiBella secured the American television rights and it will be replayed on an upcoming edition of "Broadway Boxing," which is on New York's SNY network and available on satellite services nationwide. DiBella was in attendance because he was looking at the fight with the possibility of trying to match titleholder Andre Berto against the winner. HBO has hopes of a Shane Mosley-Berto fight for the fall, but those talks have not gone well, so DiBella told ESPN.com that he'll talk to Hlatshwayo's handlers about the possibility of a fall unification bout.

Junior middleweight
Demetrius Andrade KO2 Chad Greenleaf
Records: Andrade, 6-0, 5 KOs; Greenleaf, 11-13-1, 5 KOs

Rafael's remark: Andrade blew through the overmatched Greenleaf with ease. That should come as no surprise. The 2008 U.S. Olympian and 2007 world amateur champion is one of the most talented prospects in boxing and his co-promoters, Artie Pelullo and Joe DeGuardia, are moving the 21-year-old Providence, R.I., native along. In Greenleaf, Andrade was facing experienced fighters but nobody to be too threatened by. The fast Andrade ripped off combinations throughout the fight, overwhelming Greenleaf before knocking him down for good with a hail of blows in the second round, including a good body shot. Greenleaf, 38, fell to 2-7 in his last nine, including four of the defeats by knockout. Andrade returns to action at home in Lincoln, R.I., on Sept. 4.

Friday at Hollywood, Fla.
Junior welterweight
Victor Manuel Cayo W10 Julio Diaz
Scores: 98-92, 97-93, 96-94
Records: Cayo, 23-0, 15 KOs; Diaz, 36-6, 26 KOs

Rafael's remark: Coming into the "Friday Night Fights" main event there were two significant questions: Was the untested Cayo, with that glossy record, for real? And does Diaz, the former two-time lightweight titleholder moving up in weight, have anything left? After the fight, the answers were, yes, Cayo may be for real because he looked pretty good taking it to Diaz, and no, Diaz does not have much left. Cayo, 24, of the Dominican Republic, uses an awkward, but effective style, honed perhaps by his more than 300 amateur bouts. He's quick, throws punches from odd angles and uses his uppercut very well. He also fought with a heavy heart because his original trainer, Rudy Pena, died earlier in the week. Cayo, fighting in the United States for only the second time, didn't knock Diaz down, but he rocked him many times and seemed to hurt him regularly. The 29-year-old Diaz's career is in freefall. He has lost three of his past five bouts, including two in a row. Diaz had been stunningly knocked out in the fifth round by Rolando Reyes in April and is trying to re-energize his career at the heavier weight. Now, it's in doubt. Before the bout, Diaz said if he couldn't beat Cayo, maybe he shouldn't be fighting anymore. If Diaz does carry on, he seems destined to be a stepping stone for other fighters on the way up.

Heavyweight
Derric Rossy W10 Carl Davis Drumond
Scores: 99-91 (three times)
Records: Rossy, 22-2, 12 KOs; Drumond, 26-2, 20 KOs

Rafael's remark: Drumond gave former titleholder Ruslan Chagaev a good test in February, when Chagaev was coming off a long layoff. They went six rounds, but the fight ended in a technical decision loss for Drumond, 34, of Costa Rica, when Chagaev was cut from an accidental head butt and unable to continue. In his return, Drumond was originally scheduled to face Chazz Witherspoon, but he bailed on the fight in a spat over his purse with promoter Lou DiBella. So the athletic Rossy, 29, of New York, took the fight and scored a stunningly lopsided decision win. Drumond made him look like Muhammad Ali. Rossy did as he pleased. He boxed, jabbed and more or less smacked him around him for 10 rounds with little fire coming back at him. It was certainly a surprise, but a nice win for Rossy, who won his fourth in a row since a May 2008 fifth-round knockout loss to Alexander Dimitrenko in Germany. His only other loss was a seventh-round TKO to Eddie Chambers in February 2007.

Junior lightweight
Luis Franco TKO1 Leroy Padilla
Records: Franco, 1-0, 1 KO; Padilla, 1-1, 1 KO

Rafael's remark: Like so many of his 2004 Cuban Olympic teammates, including Yuriorkis Gamboa, Odlanier Solis and Guillermo Rigondeaux, Franco, 27, defected and is pursuing a pro career. Franco defected a couple of months ago and signed with South Florida-based Seminole Warriors Boxing and made his pro debut a quick one. Franco, who had more than 400 amateur bouts, threw a lot of punches and overwhelmed Puerto Rico's Padilla, forcing referee Frank Santore to eventually stop the bout at 2 minutes, 14 seconds.

Friday at Temecula, Calif.
Junior lightweight
Tyrone Harris TKO8 Marvin Quintero

Records: Harris, 24-5, 16 KOs; Quintero, 16-2, 12 KOs

Rafael's remark: Mexico's Quintero was the hot, 22-year-old prospect coming into the fight and Harris, 28, of Lansing, Mich., was coming off a fifth-round knockout loss to Urbano Antillon in May and considered a good stepping-stone test. Eight rounds later, Harris had himself a sweet upset in the "ShoBox" main event after a thoroughly entertaining scrap. They exchanged hard shots throughout the bout, but Harris took command about halfway through the fight. Perhaps that's because Quintero, who had scored two good wins in a row on "ShoBox" against Nick Casal and Wes Ferguson, said he injured his right hand during the third round. Harris was ahead on two of the three scorecards going into the eighth round when he really took it to Quintero. Harris clocked him with a brutal left hook that sent him reeling into a corner. Harris followed him into the corner and was throwing everything he had. When he landed another hard left hand, referee Raul Caiz Jr. stepped in to halt the action. Quintero did not argue the stoppage. Harris, who did one of the sweetest backflips you'll ever see to celebrate his victory, may find new life in his career with the upset. However, he needs to figure out which division he belongs in. Antillon knocked him out at lightweight, but Harris struggled to make the contract maximum weight of 131 against Quintero. Harris weighed in at 132¼ pounds and was fined a portion of the purse for missing weight. He put on 11 pounds between the weigh-in and fight night.

Bantamweight
Chris Avalos TKO2 Andre Wilson
Records: Avalos, 11-0, 9 KOs; Wilson, 11-3-1, 9 KOs

Rafael's remark: Avalos, 19, of Lancaster, Calif., has been brought along nicely by promoter Gary Shaw, who has featured him time and again on the untelevised portions of his Showtime cards. Finally getting an opportunity on television, Avalos was impressive blowing out Wilson in the "ShoBox" opener. Facing his first southpaw, Avalos had no problems. After a feeling-out first round, Avalos brought the pain. He dropped Wilson, 26, of St. Joseph, Mo., with a smashing counter left hook early in the second round. Moments, later Avalos dropped him again and then finished him with a relentless flurry. Wilson, who dropped an eight-round split decision to prospect Teon Kennedy in March, lost his second consecutive fight.

Friday at Las Cruces, New Mexico
Heavyweight
George "Monk" Foreman III TKO2 George Burrage

Records: Foreman III, 2-0, 1 KO; Burrage, 0-6

Rafael's remark: Foreman, one of the sons of former two-time heavyweight champ George Foreman, turned pro with the support of his father on June 6 with a first-round knockout of Clyde Weaver, who was 0-1 going into the fight. In his second outing, the 26-year-old Foreman, a 6-foot-5, 237-pound Rice University graduate, went into the second round before stopping the winless Burrage, a 33-year-old in his first bout since 2004. Do you get the sense Big George isn't taking any chances with the way his son is matched so early in his career? Can't really blame him. The younger Foreman had no amateur career, only having spent the past couple of years training in the gym.

Friday at Johannesburg
Junior lightweight
Mzonke Fana TKO6 Jasper Seroka
Title eliminator
Records: Fana, 29-4, 12 KOs; Seroka, 20-2, 9 KOs

Rafael's remark: Former titleholder Fana of South Africa set himself up for a crack at his old belt by stopping countryman Seroka, whose only previous loss was in 2003 to another South African, Malcolm Klassen, who would go on to claim a belt. Fana, who beat Klassen to win his belt in April 2007, lost it to Cassius Baloyi via majority decision in April 2008. But Fana has won two in a row since, including this elimination bout. The victory makes Fana the mandatory challenger for the winner of the Aug. 22 HBO bout between titlist Klassen and Robert Guerrero. Fana, 35, broke down Seroka, 28, until referee Wayne Kelly stopped it at 1 minute, 39 seconds of the sixth.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.