Two of the more outstanding 140 pounders of recent years take the plunge into the welterweight division when WBA light welterweight champion Marcos Rene ” El Chino” Maidana takes on former WBC/IBF title holder Devon Alexander in what is in effect a world title eliminator at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri in the early hours of Sunday morning. The bout is part of a doubleheader alongside the Adrien Broner Eloy Perez WBO super featherweight fight.
Maidana engaged in a vicious war with modern great Erik Morales last April, while Alexander suffered his first pro defeat at the hands of Timothy Bradley a year ago, then barely scraped by against highly rated Argentinian Lucas Martin Matthysse.
28-year-old Maidana [31-2, 28 KOs] is a modern-day gunslinger of a fighter. A big puncher who is not afraid to take shots to land his own, the Argentinian has engaged in brutal wars with the likes of ex-WBC welterweight champion Victor Ortiz, former WBA/IBF welterweight champion Amir Khan and most recently against Mexican legend and four weight world champion Erik Morales.
Maidana went 25-0 with 24 KOs before challenging Ukrainian Andriy Kotelnik for the WBA version of the world light welterweight title in 2009 in Germany. Although the Argentinian was a heavy bookies favorite, Kotelnik outworked him over the 12 rounds, emerging with an ultra-thin split decision.
Later that year, Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions thought it would be a good idea to risk one of their brightest prospects – ”Vicious” Victor Ortiz against Maidana. It was a gamble that almost paid off when Ortiz sent Maidana to the canvas three times in the first two rounds, but the Argentinian proved his mettle and Ortiz showed his vulnerability as Maidana punched him to a standstill in the sixth round.
Big victories followed against Victor Cayo [K06] and DeMarcus Corley [PTS12], placing Maidana at the top of the WBA world rankings, and when he faced defending champion Amir Khan of the UK in 2010, many experts believed the Argentinian would be just too powerful for the boy from Bolton.
Khan floored Maidana in the first round with a vicious body punch, but the Argentinian began taking the fight to the champion from the second round on. In a sensational see-saw battle, Khan had to survive an incredible 10th round assault by Maidana to escape with his title via a close but unanimous decision in arguably the best fight of 2010.
After taking six months out, Maidana resurfaced and once again found himself in a war, this time against an Erik Morales who was thought to be way past his prime. The Mexican however delved deep into his past and pulled out a sensational performance, showing all his boxing skills and trickery to avoid most of Maidana’s heavy artillery. The Argentinian deservedly won the fight and with it the interim WBA light welterweight title, but the moral victory had gone to the Mexican.
In his most recent outing, Maidana finally got an easy nights work, flattening Spanish-based Russian Petr Petrov in four rounds in Argentina in a WBA light welterweight title fight. Maidana looked sensational as he boxed behind a tight defense and patiently took apart a quality opponent in Petrov. Two knockdowns in the fourth-round ended the contest.
Maidana’s opponent on Saturday night is highly talented former WBC light welterweight champion Devon Alexander [22-1, 13 KOs], a one-time US amateur star who won multiple titles on the weight away 300-10 record, but best known to UK fight fans for ending the top class career of Junior Witter with an eighth round stoppage in 2009.
When Alexander did the impossible and stopped the rock-jawed Colombian Juan Urango in eight rounds to add the IBF title to the WBC belt he had picked up from defeating Witter, it only seemed a matter of time before he would take his place among the best fighters in the world pound-for-pound.
The cracks began to appear in Alexander in his next fight when he struggled to outpoint tough Ukrainian Andriy Kotelnik in 2010, a fight he was expected to win easily and would showcase his superior skills. Nevertheless, when Alexander met WBO light welterweight champion Timothy Bradley in a unification fight at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Mitchigan in January 2011, it was a pick-em fight.
Alexander lost for the first time in his career when severe cuts over both of his eyes forced the referee to take the bout to the scorecards after ten rounds. Although Bradley’s reckless use of his head and been the cause of the cuts, he was adjudged to be the unanimous points winner.
Alexander was back in action five months later against Argentina’s Lucas Martin Matthysse. He started brightly enough, but suffered a fourth-round knockdown and faded badly down the stretch. Although the Argentinian seemed to have done enough to win, the split decision went the way of Alexander.
Now the slick southpaw with the KO punch is facing a genuine crossroads fight against an opponent in Maidana who while not as swift as his countrymen Matthysse, possesses far more punching power.
This is an extremely tough bout to call. On paper, Alexander would appear to have the tools necessary to defeat Maidana, with his fast combinations and outstanding footwork, but few fighters are as quick as Amir Khan, yet he came perilously close to being knocked out by the Argentinian. As his bouts with Kotelnik, Bradley and Matthysse show, Alexander clearly has a problem with quality opponents who impose their wills on the fight.
On the other hand, Maidana has had problems with skillful boxers in the past, and performs best against sluggers who come to fight like Ortiz. How will he cope with Alexander’s skills if the American chooses to stay on his bicycle and try for a points win?
Maidana impressed me against Petrov in his last fight with his improved defense and his patient stalking of his opponent. Matthysse proved that Alexander can be hurt, and I think that Maidana will also test his chin.
I see the American making a fast start but by the fifth round begin to slow, and that is when the tide will start to shift in the Argentinian’s favor. Maidana will force Alexander to fight in the trenches, and may have to absorb some bombs himself before he cuts loose with a barrage of punches in the 10th round that will see the referee jump in and save Alexander.