Saturday, January 29, 2011

:boxing: Quick Pick! ::01.29.11:: Bradley vs Alexander

Tonight, the big fight between WBO Light Welterweight Champion Timothy Bradley and upstart WBC Champion Devon Alexander takes place at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan on HBO--but you might not totally get its weight with the amount of people set to attend. But for now, let's set aside the decision to hold the match far away from either man's respective domains of California or Missouri (and thus robbing it of potential ticket sales and good word-of-mouth at either location, or even at Las Vegas or Atlantic City) and the poor attempt at emulating the Pacquiao-Cowboys Stadium dynamic (while known names among boxing fans, neither are crossover stars like Pacquiao and aren't ready to fill stadiums, yet) and just focus on the night's proceedings…

With both Bradley and Alexander, you have two hot commodities that possess a good set of skills, physicality, and no losses. The former can be quick and single-minded in his task to ferociously wear an opponent down, whereas the latter possesses power and a slightly-unorthodox punching style. But while they have their positives, I'm not high on either fighter. For Bradley, he is very prone to getting reckless when he has someone hurt, often winging punches in the air as he focuses more on throwing a bomb instead of landing one. He can also become inconsistent with his round-by-round performance in the middle-to-late portions of fights, allowing opponents the ability to take a few rounds from him.

As for Alexander, he has struck me as a young fighter with potential, but still raw and overconfident. If the action gets pressed against him, his output drops and he makes the common green move of going along with the opponent's moves--and against Bradley, who thrives off of being the one in control, that would be disastrous. He can also be ungainly with his throwing, which can waste some good shots at angles (though he does have power going for him). Similarly, Bradley sometimes slaps more with his punches than curving them for maximum damage, which can negate what he can get out of them. On the other hand, he also employs some old-school dirty tactics, primarily by leading forward with that clean-shaved head of his whenever he comes forward, so he still has that working for him.

For that matter, a much better caliber of opponents faced, and greater speed and tenacity, Timothy Bradley should be able to take the fight to Devon Alexander and make the either/or bout into a not-as-competitive one. Alexander has his power and is capable of ripping off a few speedy combos to give Bradley a good fight, but I question how ready he is to face someone like him. I have never been the latter's biggest fan, but I have not found the St. Louis native to be all that remarkable, either. He may very well summon his inner (good) Andre Dirrell and bully the bully in Bradley (as Dirrell did in his surprising rout of the then-tough Arthur Abraham last year), but I see it more likely that Bradley will attempt to overwhelm him early and make it as short and definitive a night as possible. And if Alexander comes in with too much confidence, it could make it that much worse…

Prediction: Bradley, UD. (I would have said a stoppage by the 8th, but Bradley's not known for being a KO artist. I don't think the match will be as close as some are predicting--or, possibly, that good, given their last fights--but if Alexander can avoid getting into close-quarters combat and effectively use his power and combo work--and stay active--he can make something of it and potentially defeat Bradley by unanimous decision (a TKO isn't out of the question, either).)


Outcome: Bradley, Tech. Dec. (8). The fight, while a little better than expected, was still not all that great. The beginning was a feeling-out period, though Alexander was the more active of the two. Bradley settled in Rd. 2 and would use his aggression and maneuverability to pepper him with shots and press him throughout much of the match. Alexander showed some good concentration as he tried to make a fight of it and attempting various ways to land something on Bradley, who was consistently moving his body and clearly edging him out. Bradley also made good use of his shiny dome more than a few times, as Alexander suffered an "accidental" headbutt that cut his right eye early on in the fight (though his cutman did great in preventing it from getting serious) and a few other times, culminating in the bizarre stoppage in the 8th when Alexander claimed that his eyes were stinging after another clash of head, prompting the ref to put an end to the action.

Going to the scorecards, Bradley won by a reasonably close margin, whereas Alexander suffered a large blow to his credibility with many wondering if he quit (not that the former got off scot free, as more people have now witnessed his headbutting habits). Personally, I don't think he did, though some of his post-fight comments have me thinking otherwise. On the other hand, he was starting to crack Bradley's puzzle and landing more punches, so it wasn't a total wash. A rematch is on the table, but who knows the chances on that one. Bradley's on the up and could be looking at possible dates with Marcos Maidana and Amir Khan. As for Alexander, he drops down a bit, but he can come back, rematch or not. His true mentality and toughness will need to be shown against one of the past three mentioned pugilists or another good, tough opponent.

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