Undefeated junior welterweight champion Devon Alexander has made his mark on the 140-pound division. In his latest, most impressive performance yet, WBC champion Alexander picked up a second title when he knocked out durable IBF champion Juan Urango.
At only 23 years of age and with only 20 fights under his belt, Alexander already owns two titles in a division overflowing with terrific fighters and great matchups.
While most considered Alexander a much better boxer than Urango going in, not many foresaw him scoring a knockout. Despite having fought Ricky Hatton and Andre Berto, Urango had rarely been stunned and had only been down once – against the heavy-handed Randall Bailey in a fight he came back to win by knockout.
Boxing behind a steady jab and mixing in swift combinations, Alexander steadily broke down the rugged Colombian banger and ended up bombing him out.
Coming into the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut, neither of the southpaws had fought since August, but neither showed any signs of ring rust in a first round controlled by Alexander’s movement, stiff jab and crisp combinations. Urango hit mostly glove before finally catching Alexander with a nice right hook that turned his head and made him stutter step in the final seconds.
Kevin Cunningham, the usually animated trainer of Alexander, showed his disapproval, reminding his charge that the IBF Champion was easy work as long as Alexander stuck to his game plan. Urango made a concentrated effort to go after the body of Alexander in round two; however, Alexander again won the round with several clean left hands to the head and a solid uppercut near the end of the round.
In round three, Urango landed his right hook again yet came out of a follow-up exchange with a cut over his left eye, which Alexander quickly targeted with a right uppercut. Urango still found a way to pull out the round, scoring with his right hook several more times and knocking Alexander’s head straight up with one of them.
With his face starting to bust up, including blood from the nose and over the eye and swelling around the left eye, Urango continued to barrel in for round four. Alexander avoided the big shots and countered when he needed to, including a snapping uppercut to the face, in order to take the round. Urango beat on Alexander’s body in the fifth round but wasn’t active enough to claim it as his own.
Alexander was cruising along well in round six until Urango caught him with three consecutive right hooks to the head. Taken with his consistent body work and including a combination upstairs in the final seconds, it was Urango’s best round of the fight and one that kept him in it on the cards.
Just as Urango was surging in round seven, Alexander met him head on with a three-punch combination, ending with a head-turning left hand. Later, a left-right combination earned a shake of the head from Urango, who was starting to become frustrated, if not a little stunned, by Alexander’s shots. Chasing with combinations of his own to end the round, he dropped another one to the WBC champion.
It was the beginning of the end for Urango when he walked into a straight left hand to start the eighth round. Missing a wild left hand in retaliation, Urango took a hard counter uppercut on the chin that lifted him off his feet. He collapsed back onto the canvas from the shot, gazing upward and trying to clear his head by wiping his face.
Urango managed to get to his feet by the count of seven, hopping and raising his glove while wiping his bloodied nose with the other. Referee Benjy Esteves briefly checked on him as he blinked and tried to recover.
Alexander didn’t let him. He quickly hit Urango with a right hook and another uppercut. Urango stumbled into Alexander and tried to hold on, but Alexander turned sideways, letting him collapse to the mat once more.
This time, it took Urango to the count of eight to get back on his feet. He again raised his gloves to signal that he was fine, but Esteves had seen enough and decided to stop the fight. It was probably a premature stoppage, but Urango seemed to be on a downhill slide in a way he had never been before. He spread his arms and briefly complained as Esteves walked him back to his corner.
Across the ring, a celebration ensued as Cunningham cleared the ropes in a single bound and embraced Alexander. Moments later, he began shouting triumphantly as Alexander mounted the ropes and fiercely pounded his chest. Though busted up and bleeding on his stool, Urango was fully responsive to doctors’ questions, his pride likely more hurt than his body at having been stopped for the first time.
Although Urango helped himself get knocked out by leaping into the first uppercut that put him down, it’s quite the accolade for Alexander to stop a man who, up until his last fight, appeared unbreakable. Maybe Bailey cracked the chin of Urango in August, but Alexander had the skill to finish the job on this occasion.
Alexander’s victory gives him two belts in a division overloaded with talent. A unification match with either of the other two titlists – undefeated WBO champion Tim Bradley or WBA champion Amir Khan – would make for a fantastic clash for divisional supremacy, especially if Bradley was the opponent. Bradley still appears to be the top dog at junior welterweight, though Alexander is hot on his heels.
As far as Alexander’s immediate future is concerned, Zab Judah somehow found his way into the ring and on camera after the fight. Judah reminded Alexander that he knocked out St. Louis’ most recent elite fighter and Alexander’s friend, Cory Spinks, in his hometown in 2005, likely in an attempt to goad Alexander into fighting him to avenge the loss. It’s a fight Alexander doesn’t need, but the fact that Judah was able to get onto the telecast at all means it’s probably already in the works.
For now, Alexander has made his statement at 140, and it will be up to Bradley, Khan and a list of others to top it in their next respective bouts.