By Chris Robinson
Last night in St. Louis, Missouri, former junior welterweight champion Devon Alexander carved out one the most impressive performances of his career with a ten-round whitewashing of rugged Argentinean Marcos Maidana on HBO’s airwaves.
The win for Alexander was much needed, as he had looked far from scintillating in his last three performances, an August 2010 unanimous decision over tricky Ukrainian Andriy Kotelnik, followed up by a technical-decision loss to Timothy Bradley a little over a year ago, and most recently his life-and-death struggle with Lucas Matthysse this past June that saw him get dropped in the fourth round while holding on for a split-decision nod.
Having turned 25 years old a few weeks ago, Alexander sees his record rise to 23-1 with 13 knockouts in his move up to the welterweight division. That talented southpaw claims he was struggling to make the 140-pound limit in his previous three contests and true enough, he appeared to be much more comfortable on Saturday night and fought with a vigor that hadn’t been seen since his March 2010 TKO over Juan Urango.
And while Alexander has breathed new life into his career, not everyone is sold.
Veteran HBO analyst Larry Merchant wasn’t at the Scottrade Center calling the action last night, as it was a Boxing After Dark telecast, but when asked for his impression of Alexander’s victory, he hardly seemed smitten.
“It’s hard to say because Maidana was also moving to 147,” Merchant noted during our conversation moments after the bout’s conclusion. “And it may simply be a matter of a good style and fighting a disciplined, tough fight.”
Noticing a bit of skepticism coming from Merchant, I asked if he would elaborate.
“I mean, I don’t think this victory makes him an elite fighter,” Larry continued. “I think that he’s a young guy and he needs more fights before we can tell. It’s a good performance; I don’t want to take anything away from it. We’ll see, if he fights somebody with a little more skill, how he performs. I don’t think he’s an elite fighter at this time. But it was a victory and he’s still in the hunt for bigger game.”
And what for Maidana, who again showed his limitations yet will still be able to land meaningful fights given his all-action style? The 28-year old was also moving up to the welterweight class to land the fight yet he didn’t seem to carry his power up quite as well nor was he able to impose himself physically as was the case with his melees at 140.
Merchant feels that life will move on and the WBA bauble Maidana holds in the junior welterweight class seems to be reason enough for a return back to his natural division.
“In a sense, but at 140, fighting smaller guys, [with] his strength, he may be able to impose his will on smaller guys because of his strength and his will. I think he fought [Victor] Ortiz at 140 and Ortiz has moved up, so he’s got to go where the opponents and the money is. There’s always more fights for somebody like Maidana, but I’m not sure that it’s best for him to move up in weight.”
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