Trainer Kevin Cunningham Breaks Down Alexander’s Welterweight Debut

By Mitchell McMahon

Devon Alexander with trainer Kevin Cunningham - Photo Credit: Ed MulhollandDevon “The Great” Alexander needed to look the part in his welterweight debut against Marcos Maidana. Carrying added weight and anxious to silence the critics, he appeared sharp, classy and lethal while dominating the heavy-handed brawler from Argentina.

Kevin Cunningham, his longtime trainer, noted the changes in Alexander’s mind and body. “Everything was coming out Saturday night. He heard the critics and wanted to put it all to rest.

“Tension drains a fighter,” said Cunningham. “Everyone knows Devon can box, but he’s an aggressive fighter. He wanted to take Maidana out early. I told him, ‘Relax and box. This fight is going to be a lot easier that way. He settled down, and by the 6th round he took over masterfully.”

Alexander looked like a different fighter at 147lbs than the man that tired against Kotelnik, Bradley and Mattysse. He broke Maidana down with crisp, hard punches, showed strong legs and a more sustained, balanced energy level. Only one judge scored a round for Maidana, who looked sluggish at 147.

The tendency for Alexander to overexert himself had been a big problem in the past. Cunningham cites two reasons for the change Saturday: strategy and weight. “I knew with Devon not having to kill himself to make 140, he would step up. We worked on not fighting full-throttle, on changing gears, and it paid off.

“Going into Bradley and Kotelnik, we worked too hard to shed weight. He outgrew his weight just as he broke through at 140. But we were the champ: We couldn’t toss the belts.”

Together, Alexander and Cunningham have won more than 300 amateur bouts, gone 24-1 professionally, 6-1 in title bouts, the lone loss coming to Tim Bradley on tired legs. But criticism is the flip-side of praise, and after three underwhelming bouts, each received their share. Whispers became shouts: Had they stagnated?

Cunningham shrugs it off: “This isn’t my first time at the rodeo. When Spinks unified the belts, I was a genius. We lost the Judah rematch and suddenly he needed a new trainer. That’s just the way it goes.  
“Devon is like my son. He’s been with me since he was 7 years old. When he’s out of boxing, we’ll be as close as ever.”

They plan to face a solid opponent in July, then challenging the winner of Berto/Ortiz in a welterweight showdown. “That’s the logical fight between the two best welterweights not named Floyd or Manny. We aren’t interested in politics. We just want to fight the best, like we always have. And oh man, either one of those--Berto or Oritz--versus Devon 'The Great' Alexander...look out!”

Alexander Greater at 147lbs

By Chuck Johnson

Photo: Ed MulhollandBigger meant better for Devon Alexander in the former junior welterweight champion’s successful 147-pound debut.

Displaying the sharpness and stamina that had been lacking in his recent fights, Alexander was faster and clearly superior Saturday night in overwhelming Marcos Maidana to win a unanimous 10-round welterweight decision.

Read more on HBO.com

Broner vs. Perez: A Champ and a Challenger, Equally Confident

By Kieran Mulvaney

Adrien Broner, Eloy PerezIn one corner stands the golden child, a fighter groomed for greatness and promoted as the Next Great Thing.

On Saturday night in St. Louis, in the co-main event of the year’s first 'Boxing After Dark,' that role will be filled by junior lightweight titlist Adrien Broner, who fashions himself 'The Problem' and who has already developed a shtick that involves his father brushing his hair while the son conducts his in-ring post-fight interview. Possessed of fast hands and knockout power, as well as a charisma that – as manifested in, for example, the aforementioned hair-brushing routine – is confident to the point of polarizing, he has earned comparisons to a young Floyd Mayweather.

In the other corner stands the half-forgotten stepchild, the earnest yet hungry foe, the promotion’s B-side, anxious to upset the proverbial applecart and make his own mark on the sport.

Introducing Eloy "The Prince" Perez.

Undefeated Perez has a similar number of wins (23), as the 22-0 Broner, but whereas Broner has basked in the spotlight, Perez has toiled in the relative shadows. He is considered fast, but not on the level of Broner; he has some power to his punches, but only enough to stop seven of his opponents, while Broner has halted 18.

But his list of conquered foes includes some solid scalps, and two of his seven stoppages have come in his last two bouts: evidence, say he and his handlers, that he is sitting down more on his punches than in the past. Some observers wonder whether he should be allowed more time to perfect those improvements; but there are others, those who have watched him closely as he has climbed his way through the ranks, who argue that he is ready to spring a surprise,  that a praised champion is about to be upended by an overlooked challenger.

The champion, as is his wont, is confident that won’t happen.

“I’m ready to f**k this dude up,” he says.

But the challenger is equally confident that he will.

“It's going to be an exciting fight and I am going to be on top of him,” he predicts. “There's going to be a new world champion.”

CompuBox Analysis: Marcos Maidana vs. Devon Alexander

By CompuBox

For more than two decades the junior welterweights have been among boxing's top weight classes in depth and quality matches. That trend continues Saturday when WBA titlist Marcos Maidana meets former WBC/IBF belt-holder Devon Alexander in an intriguing boxer-slugger encounter.  Alexander is an 8-5 favorite.

Alexander is eager for redemption after back-to-back-to-back struggles against Andriy Kotelnik, Timothy Bradley and Lucas Matthysse while Maidana seeks a dominant performance following his unexpectedly competitive war against Erik Morales and his compelling loss to Amir Khan. Which man will succeed in his quest? Their CompuBox pasts offer the following nuggets:

> Read more CompuBox analysis of Marcos Maidana vs. Devon Alexander on HBO.com

CompuBox Analysis: Adrien Broner vs. Eloy Perez

By CompuBox

Adrien Broner, boxing's second-youngest titlist behind Saul Alvarez, risks his WBO super featherweight belt for the first time Saturday against fellow unbeaten Eloy Perez as the co-feature to Marcos Maidana-Devon Alexander. Will this fight upstage the main event? Their CompuBox pasts provide the following food for thought:

> Read more CompuBox analysis of Adrien Broner vs. Eloy Perez on HBO.com

Fans Weigh In: Maidana Will KO Alexander

Marcos Maidana - Photo Credit: Will Hart

Devon Alexander's fight record is marred by only a head butt-filled bout against a top-ranked opponent. And yet, fully 83% of respondents to the HBO Boxing Facebook poll don't think he has what it takes to beat the hard-hitting Marcos Maidana. "Maidana is going to make Alexander quit again," writes Reuben C.  "If Alexander tries to slug it out he's getting KO'd," tweeted @LokWHR. Meanwhile, almost all respondents see Adrien Broner adding another knockout to his pristine record. "Broner will knock Perez out by the sixth," writes @Istahtyou_1.

Here's more of what fans had to say about Maidana-Alexander:

- i like alexander stepping up and taking this fight, of course its dangerous for him due to maidanas power but itll be a good test to see how he can adapt and how much he can handle, if he passes the test then itll get more ppl on his side again, if not i guess hell jus be another skilled boxer who jsut couldnt make it big tim. – J. Slaunwhite (HBO.com)
- Styles make fights. Maidana with iron chin, determination and power, can catch Alexander- more faster, but lacks strong will. - Peter A. (Facebook)
- Broner will win by TKO. Im rooting for Maidana but the only way he wins in St.Louis is by KO. - @LucianoGustini (Twitter)
- Alexander isnt ready for this type of pressure, strength and power!!! Hopefully he trains to boost up his punch resistance and his agility because he will need both and more!! He doesn't have the power to bother Maidana!! - Robert E. (Facebook)
- Maidana does have the power to knock anyone out in the division. For those who look to the Ortiz fight... Who do you think hits harder? Berto or Maidana? I say Berto. But Berto couldn't put Ortiz away.. It all comes down to styles. Ortiz's style made it easier for Maidana to do damage. I think Alexander will be hard to hit and it will be a similar fight to the Khan fight, with the same outcome... Maidana coming up short in a decision. – Harry K. (HBO.com)
- I'm going with Maidana over Alexander. Devon isn't impressive to me at all. I'm also taking the Problem over the Prince - Quinee J. (Facebook)
- If it's Maidana's fight pace, he might KO Alexander. If it's Alexander's fight, he'd box his way to a points decision. - @Kmauri_SM (Twitter)

Disagree? Share your fight predictions in the comments.

Three Witnesses to Marcos Maidana’s Punching Power

By Kieran Mulvaney

Marcos Maidana vs Erik Morales - Photo Credit: Will HartMarcos Maidana does not, at first sight, appear to match his reputation. A boxer’s muscles are generally lean rather than bulky, built for speed and reflexes rather than weight-lifting strength, but even by the standards of his weight division, Maidana seems slight. He is not obviously a man possessed of frightening punching power. But if Devon Alexander, who faces Maidana in the year’s first Boxing After Dark broadcast on February 25, needs any convincing of just how real that punching power in fact is, we offer three fighters who experienced it firsthand:

Marcos Maidana vs Victor Ortiz - Photo Credit: Will HartVictor Ortiz. When Ortiz stepped into the ring with Maidana in June 2009, he was the rising star who had been bowling over one foe after another. The little-known Maidana was expected to be another notch in the belt as Ortiz continued his path to glory, and when the Argentine went down in the first round after an Ortiz assault, the script seemed to be unfolding as planned. But then Ortiz, overeager, ran headlong into a Maidana right hand that flattened him. He recovered, and knocked his opponent down twice more in the second. But Maidana would not be denied, constantly powering forward and landing brutal blows that took the fight out of the young American, knocking him down and causing him to retreat from battle in the eighth round.

Marcos Maidana vs Amir Khan - Photo Credit: Will HartAmir Khan. Unlike Ortiz, the Briton emerged victorious from his encounter with Maidana, but like Ortiz, he doubtless expected on the basis of a first-round knockdown that his night would be easier than it turned out. That knockdown, which came at the end of the opening frame of their December 2010 clash, was the result of a Khan body shot that had Maidana grimacing in pain. Once again, however, Maidana proved resilient and relentless. He hauled Khan in down the stretch – including a furious tenth-round assault that all but sent his head flying into the crowd – only to fall agonizingly short on the scorecards.

Marcos Maidana vs Erik Morales - Photo Credit: Will HartErik Morales. The veteran exposed the weaknesses in Maidana’s style, showing just enough defensive movement to blunt his opponent’s occasionally crude assault, and enough offensive variety to pierce his guard. But even the wiles Morales had acquired over almost two decades of professional pugilism were not enough to prevent Maidana from inflicting an injury so grotesque, a right eye so horrendously swollen, that outside of a boxing ring it would have been photographed as evidence that a violent assailant was at large.

Alexander, who possesses the kind of boxing skills that could leave Maidana swinging and missing, is confident. “I've got my legs strong and fast, and I'm ready to rock and roll,” he says. But many a thoroughbred has become bogged down in the rough terrain that is a Maidana fight. Will Alexander prove the exception?

Maidana-Alexander: Thunder and Lightning

By Nat Gottlieb

Marcos Maidana, Devon Alexander - Photo Credits: Ed MulhollandOne of the most common templates for a boxing narrative is the classic boxer-puncher fight. On the surface it appears we have one slated for February 25th in St. Louis, when Marcos Maidana, the lethal power slugger with limited boxing skills faces Devon Alexander, the slick boxer with fast hands who wins more on points than knockdowns. But pigeon-holing this fight would be a mistake. Although Alexander can box your ears off, he has a fondness for going inside and standing toe-to-toe. That may be a bad move against Maidana, but it will make for an exciting fight.

There are also many subtle issues at play which could decide the winner. Chief among them is stamina. Alexander (22-1,13KOs) has been labeled a great six-round fighter who fades down the stretch, a contention supported by his most recent fights. His camp counters that the fades were a result of trying to boil down to the 140-pound weight limit, which cut muscle and left him fatigued. This fight will take place at 147, and both Alexander and his trainer Kevin Cunningham say the extra seven pounds will make a big difference in his stamina.

Read More at HBO.com