The moment Timothy Bradley and Devon Alexander signed to put their WBO and WBC junior welterweight titles on the line, most experts knew it was an evenly matched contest. Once it ended, that’s exactly how it turned out – at least from a statistical standpoint.
Although Bradley emerged with an ugly butt-induced 10th round technical decision win, it was Alexander who led in most categories. He connected with more punches overall (129-128), threw more total punches (475-419), attempted more jabs (171-162) and held slight leads in both power categories (304-257 in attempts, 98-89 in connects). Bradley’s only lead was in landed jabs (39-31).
The round-by-round breakdowns also reflected the contest’s seesaw nature. Bradley held a 5-4 lead in overall connects through nine completed rounds (alternating perfectly through the first five) while Alexander owned a 5-4 rounds lead in jab connects. However, Alexander seized a commanding 6-2-1 lead in power connects, which was what fueled his other statistical leads.
So why did Bradley prevail on all three scorecards (98-93, 97-93, 96-95)? First, “Desert Storm” was more accurate with his artillery. He landed 31 percent of his overall punches to Alexander’s 27, connected on 24 percent of his jabs to Alexander’s 18 and – perhaps most importantly – scored on 35 percent of his power punches to Alexander’s 32.
Second, Bradley was the more effective aggressor and each of his power shots landed with more authority, not a small point to judges Duane Ford, Tom Miller and Omar Mintun.
Third, he appeared to be carrying out his plan more successfully than Alexander during longer stretches, which is one of the definitions of ring generalship. This superiority in these intangible categories impressed the judges enough, round by round, to grant Bradley the working margin he needed to win the technical decision.
The CompuBox pre-fight analysis said that the key point to Alexander’s success was how he would apply his jab. When Alexander fired from proper range he excelled but when he flicked it from too far away he struggled. In the end Bradley pulled off a double whammy: Not only did Bradley limit Alexander to 18 percent accuracy – and many of Alexander’s jabs fell short of the target – he also greatly limited his rival’s output, which effectively took away the cornerstone of Alexander’s offense.
During Alexander’s last three outings against Junior Witter, Juan Urango and Andriy Kotelnik, “The Great” averaged 45.4 jabs per round – almost double the junior welterweight average of 24.9. But against Bradley Alexander threw just 18.5 jabs per round through nine completed rounds. Bradley’s constant aggression caused Alexander to engage at close range far more often than he wanted and thus he couldn’t establish his superior long-range game.
In other words, Bradley forced the longer Alexander to fight a smaller man’s fight and that’s why he piled up more points in the end.
The PunchZone maps epitomized each man’s ring approach. Bradley, known best for his all-around game, produced a symmetrical connect pattern, for of his 93 head connects 31 struck the chin, 32 hit the right side of Alexander’s head and 32 more connected on the left side. Of his 33 body connects, rights produced 20 hits and lefts racked up 13.
Meanwhile, Alexander’s busy right produced 44 head connects, the left 32 hits and 18 punches hit Bradley’s chin. Somewhat surprisingly, Alexander’s southpaw lefts racked up 27 body connects while the lead rights hit Bradley’s side just eight times. Neither connected on a low blow.
While there is a return-match clause in the contract – and Alexander said in the post-fight interview that he would exercise it – many pundits and fans are yawning at the prospect. The fight didn’t live up to its “Superfight” label because the styles didn’t mesh well and few fireworks were generated. It might be better for Bradley and Alexander to part company and take other highways on their respective roads to greatness.