Much Ado About Nothing: Timothy Bradley W TD10 Devon Alexander

image: AP

*****

The “Battle for Supremacy” was not worth the broadband space used to hype it up as Timothy Bradley scored a fairly easy technical decision over Devon Alexander after 10 pedestrian rounds at the now notorious Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan.  A headbutt forced Alexander to quit under strange circumstances, and the scorecards were mercifully tallied to abbreviate what was a dreary affair.  Final scores were 98-93, 97-93, and 96-95, all in favor of Bradley.

No matter how long you watch boxing, you are sure to run across something that will leave you flabbergasted.  Last night, Alexander, now 21-1 (13), was ruled unfit to continue fighting after he all but refused to open his eyes at the request of the ringside physician.  More than once Dr. Peter Samet implored Alexander to widen his peepers, but Alexander was in such a sorry state, apparently, that even fluttering his eyelids was too much for him.  

It was a fitting end to a fight whose surreal atmosphere nearly rivaled that of the entire oeuvre of Marcel Duchamp.  Who was that man dressed in a pimp outfit who refused to leave the ring before the first bell rang?  How many journalists are actually going to pretend that 6,247 paid to see this event?  Does Kevin Cunningham ever shut up?  What about the mystifying—and bogus—statistics thrown around about this fight by HBO and Dan Rafael?

As for the fight itself, it was dull from the moment the fellow in the pimp hat left the ring.  But the 10 desultory rounds at least served to point out the difference between reality—Tim Bradley—and hype—Devon Alexander.

Tim Bradley, 27-0-0-1 (11), is a professional prizefighter, capable of establishing a game plan, building a foundation in the ring, and executing with a purpose in mind.  Bradley was looking to dismantle Alexander brick by brick as the rounds went by.  Meanwhile, Alexander was looking perhaps to do the same—bark by bark.  His yips and yelps resounded above the silence of the funereal crowd, but Alexander, St. Louis, Missouri, lacked the skill to do any damage and needed a knockout (or a few knockdowns) to win at the time the fight was stopped.

Bradley, Palm Springs, California, set the tempo by coming forward, belaboring the body in close, and occasionally pinning his discombobulated opponent against the ropes, where he threw quick flurries.  Alexander, 140, worked behind his imprecise jab, ran off pitty-pat combinations that duly scattered molecules, and lunged in to hold whenever he could get away with it. 

As noted, he also barked incessantly, a symbolic counterpoint to the simple fact that Alexander has all the bite of a sock puppet. Let it be stated clearly here–coldly and objectively, with no ridiculous ”P-4-P” palaver in play–right now Devon Alexander is little more than a competent spoiler.  Fast hands and a southpaw style are not enough to make a legend, no matter what Max Kellerman says.  Sure, standards in boxing have dropped precipitously over the years—from trainers to fighters to journalists—but the public rainbow party given to Alexander over the last eighteen months or so was absurd.  Beating a jaded Junior Witter, stopping Juan Urango, and barely surviving Andriy Kotelnik makes you a “star” these days in the same way that Paris Hilton and Snooki are stars—for no apparent reason.

As in his fight with Kotelnik, it took only a handful of rounds for Alexander to look skittish in the ring, slapping inaccurately, moving without purpose, and initiating ugly half-nelsons whenever Bradley, 139 1/2, got too close for discomfort.  Some of his flurries were embarrassing in their amateurishness, but you got the sense this might happen when training footage broadcast by HBO before the fight showed Alexander whipping the air with both hands like a man trying to break some sort of obscure record for beating eggs.

With the exception of a couple of jabs and an isolated straight left or two, Bradley landed the only meaningful punches of the fight, including an overhand right that staggered Alexander in the sixth.  A headbutt–one of many throughout the bout–left Alexander with a ragged cut over his right eye in the third round.  Fortunately, Jim Strickland came through as the only steady professional in the Alexander corner.

By the time the ninth round rolled by in this lackluster fandango, Alexander, 21-1 (13), had already been “faking the funk” for a quarter of the fight, simply trying to con Bradley and the judges with phony shimmies no real professional would fall for.  At one point, Alexander opened up with one of his counterfeit squalls and Bradley simply put his hands up, disdainfully, and blocked every punch that skewed his way.  Alexander was about as much of a threat to Bradley in the ring as a Gettysburg reenactor is to a Special Forces unit. A fighter knows when his opponent is more interested in playing charades than mixing it up, and Bradley simply went about his hard-nosed business.

When the two cracked heads in center ring early in the 10th, Alexander let out a banshee cry and reeled into a corner, where he dropped to his knees like a supplicant. Referee Frank Garza urged him to rise, and when Alexander continued mewling, the referee called for the ringside physician and the bout was halted.

In the end, Bradley was simply too much of a professional for Alexander to keep at bay.  Once a spoiler is figured out, he usually reverts to his worst impulses—lunging, grabbing, flailing, etc.—and Alexander made sure to use his full repertoire of marring tactics.

All prizefighters, with rare exceptions, work hard to get what they can when they can in an unforgiving business, and Alexander is no different.  But the idea that some get more because Max Kellerman has iffy judgment–compounded by an oversized ego–or because Dan Rafael plays hype man–compounded by an oversized ego–might be a little hard to swallow for those without their own personal cheerleading squads.   Bradley, for one, was not impressed by all that barking at the moon.

*****

A note on the bizarre “historical” statistics tossed around by Jim Lampley and other informed members of the media.  As if this fight did not have enough hype already, some of the hardworking press came up with the following dopey stat, as fleshed out by Dan Rafael:

It was not only a fight between two of the best American fighters in boxing, but it was the first unification fight between two undefeated Americans in 24 years and only the third ever. The others were Mike Tyson against Tony Tucker in a 1987 heavyweight championship unification bout and Donald Curry against Milton McCrory in a 1985 welterweight unification clash.

Not only does this assertion bring to mind the over inclusiveness of paranoid schizophrenics, it is also woefully incorrect.  Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad met in 1999 to unify two shards of the welterweight title.  Or are some people so ignorant that they will claim Trinidad is not American?

*****

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Topics: Dan Rafael, Devon Alexander, JUNIOR WELTERWEIGHTS, TIM BRADLEY, Timothy Bradley

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  • kurap

    This highlights the danger of “boxing experts” over-hyping a boxer who still hasn’t proven himself to have real staying power. Now that Alexander has been proven to be all hot air, what now for Kellerman and Rafael? Will they issue a mea culpa for their misled cheerleading? Somehow, I don’t think so.

    • Carlos Acevedo

      Hi Kurap,

      thanks for writing.

      I will never understand why a fighter cannot simply be a good fighter until he proves otherwise. On the one hand, Alexander lost to a very good fighter; on the other, it was a very poor performance, and, really, he showed nothing but fast hands in the ring. There are tons of fighters out there with fast hands, is that enough to be tabbed “Great” and fantastic, etc.?

      He had a nice KO over Juan Urango–great. But few people thought that the limited Urango would win going in….Too many fights and fighters in America are inventions of the media these days, and what happens when you keep hearing how great Fighter X is and when you see him fight, he barely knows which way to point his toes?

  • bluebayous

    Hey, Carlos. I like your writing style. So funny. You wrote everything what’s my thought is saying about this fight.

    • Carlos Acevedo

      Hi bluebayous,

      thanks for writing and for the compliment. Sometimes I get a little crazy around here, but I always try to write well.

  • nashingun

    it was indeed a boring fight and with a headbutt to finish it sucks the most. bradley was working his way in too much that even his head is moving in for a knock down… little by little, brick by brick, head by head the fight was over. what else should we expect from the two in the first place. should we buy their fights next time or just leave them be.

    • Carlos Acevedo

      Hi nashingun,

      I should have pointed out that, yes, Bradley was leading with his head often. The way he tears people up with his dome is not appealing to a fight aficionado.

      Other than the headbutts, I like Bradley because of his professional demeanor and because of his tenacity in the ring. I also think he’s a smart fighter. But there is no need to say he is a future legend or anything like that. He’s a very good–solid–professional prizefighter, and these days that’s more than enough.

      As long as they don’t fight each other, I’ll watch Bradley and Alexander. It would be interesting to see if Alexander can actually improve…

  • boxzanne

    With respect,strongly disagree with this assessment: Last night, Alexander, now 21-1 (13), was ruled unfit to continue fighting after he all but refused to open his eyes at the request of the ringside physician. More than once Dr. Peter Samet implored Alexander to widen his peepers, but Alexander was in such a sorry state, apparently, that even fluttering his eyelids was too much for him.”

    The area was flayed, i.e., skinned in the true sense, not like a skinned knee=scraped. Flaying is a form of torture. This would be more like mini-flayed, but it would put an unnatural hurt on DA. A deeper, gorier, bloodier cut would hurt much less. That kind of peelback flaying tear would make opening that eye real hard to do, because the injury, and the level of pain, are at third-degree burn level. The physical reaction–a rush of fluid, serum, to the open area is similar to burns as well, and causes fast swelling, which readily suppresses nerve responses, especially in nerve-rich areas such as eye area, face generally, hands. Possibly giving him the full 5 minutes might have helped, because the effects lighten up as soon as there’s enough serum there, but the Dr. had called the fight by then.

    I thought the fight was close. I thought the final–of far too many to be excused just by leftyism–bout-ending butt was quite deliberate, and should have ended in a DQ. But those are just opinions. It’s a fact that that type of flaying tear in that location would make his eye impossible to use for upwards of 4-6 minutes.

    • Carlos Acevedo

      Hi boxzanne,

      thanks for checking in.

      It sounds like you have a medical background; if so, then I defer to your assessment. I don’t mean to say Alexander doggged it–TCS is almost always on the side of fighters when injury-related stoppages occur–I just thought it was weird and I have never seen that in nearly 30 years of watching boxing.

      I will say that the final butt landed on the left side of Alexander’s head, yet the fight was stopped because he could not open his right eye.

      The fight itself, to me, was easy work for Bradley, who was hit flush only a handful of times. But I do agree that these headbutts are too frequent and I have flat out called Bradley a dirty fighter in the past. I think he is leading with his head deliberately and it’s a shame to see so many of his fights marred by gaping wounds to his opponents.

      • boxzanne

        DISCLAIMER!
        Didn’t mean to mislead–was raised by bunches of pharmacists, was a medical proofreader for years, have no formal medical training–you learn things in those environments, but I’m no dr. or nurse. I will be seeing my eye Dr. on Feb. 11 and will review my words with him, eat crow if necessary. Doubt it though, I do know stuff.

  • johnpaulfutbol

    Dammit CA, wrote a comment…computer froze as I was trying to post….I shall return, grouchier than I started.

    • Carlos Acevedo

      Dammit JPF,

      I’m still waiting! Lord knows there isn’t enough grouchiness on TCS!

      • johnpaulfutbol

        Here I is….not as full of piss and vinegar as I was earlier…but that’s because after my computer ate my original post to you, I went to mass and then my mom’s. That just made me tired.

        Between your post and all the comments etc, most of the important points have been made. That said, I’m glad this fight was made…..it brought some clarity to the murky business of the golden age of the junior welters. I just can’t stand the hype involved. I’m not big on Bradley, but he’s a good fighter and a “pro.” Which is a hell of a lot more than can be said of Alexander. However, if in order to make this fight HBO had to guarantee Alexander and Bradley million dollar paydays vs. TBA afterward…well, I’m not so sure that this fight was worth making.

        Alexander showed some serious mental weakness vs. Kotelnik IMO and I suspected that would play a part in a fight vs. Bradley, who owned all the intangibles. I probably just earned my “expert” credential there with that insight. You said it best, he’s got no purpose. All that women’s tennis grunting when he punches etc…perhaps yelling “HAH!” everytime you throw is part of the criteria for a scoring blow in St. Louis, I dunno. I can’t say to what extent he was or wasn’t injured by the butts, but he sure tried to make a meal of it. He and his team knew headbutts might factor going in, ridiculous how willing he was to fold when they reared their “head.” Or maybe they figured that coin toss they won was worth a knockdown going in? They sure acted like it. Team Alexander/Cunningham are pretty classless IMO, I don’t root for people who comport themselves like that.

        As I said, Bradley isn’t a favorite of mine. But I can’t begrudge him his paydays, he’s a determined guy and comes to fight. Something has got to be done about his head though. I’m not sure what, because I’m not convinced that he’s doing it with malice, perhaps? Either way, he was winning this fight by any criteria. I’d like to see him fight Khan, not quite sure him setting his sights on Pacquiao is realistic for a couple reasons.

        Anyway, pretty funny/ridiculous from a few angles….wonder how many paid to get in last night? Also, I wish more “experts” would re-calibrate their sense of reality. Alexander is a young fighter with “some” talent, but not an elite fighter, a knocking at the door of elite status fighter or whatever. This was a good solid matchup based on the “rankings” and all that, it helped bring some clarity….but that’s it….wasn’t a Clash of Titans or anything like that.

        • Carlos Acevedo

          Hi JPF,

          you shouldn’t let your grouchiness marinate. Strike while the iron is hot! Your much-anticipated grouchiness was missed!

          This thing with grunting is interesting because when I first stepped into a boxing gym back in the day, my trainer told me to bark and grunt when I hit the heavy bag because many newcomers forget to breathe when they start out and get light-headed/exhausted quickly. So you consciously bark to expel the air. I also read that in “The Boxer’s Start-up: A Beginner’s Guide to Boxing,” by Doug Werner. Ironically, in a way, this proves Alexander has too much amateur in him….

          The hype surrounding this fight was so boring, unimaginative, and idiotic that I basically took most of December and the entire month of January off on TCS. It was just too much of a chore to bother trying to glean info on current events in boxing….so I’m glad I had Andrew Fruman and Michael Nelson contribute a few posts, otherwise this webpage would be completely empty.

          With the breathless shilling and the phony stats (and attendance figures), it just made me ignore boxing for a few weeks. Keep on comparing this fight to Leonard-Hearns….fucking morons.

          I don’t like Bradley’s wrecking ball dome, but I do like him because, as we both agree on, he’s a professional fighter and that’s not so easy to find these days…if he had some power and straightened that right hand out a little, he would be a lot more fun to watch. As it is, I support a guy who doesn’t shit his pants whenever something goes against him in the ring and who tries to fight the best (or whomever is anointed that by ESPN) more often than other people do.

          HBO had to do a lot of back room dealing for this fight, but what’s really sad is that, apparently, that’s what it takes these days to get two fighters no one gives a shit about (one a phony hype job, the other a solid fighter with no fanbase) to face each other. Unbelievable. Imagine that you could see this kind of bout on NBC back in the day every week, with both fighters getting 50-75K each.

          Puerto Ricans are American Citizens!

          • johnpaulfutbol

            CA,

            Funny, I had that same problem with breathing when I first started trying to box. Probably still have that problem to some extent, I am however still trying to box! When I’d ironed the breathing thing out working the bag or the mitts….I’d revert back to not breathing at all when I started sparring. Which wasn’t a problem in the center of the ring so much, but a big problem when trapped in the corner. I didn’t really have any footwork moves or the ability to spin a guy or whatever to work out of that position….so, I’d end up just trading blows until I couldn’t take it anymore…overcome by the combo of the need for air and the life affirming smell of a boxing gym.

            I just can’t believe this discussion regarding breathing is an offshoot of an exchange about a guy who was one fight away from being coronated the king of the “golden age of the junior welterweights.”

            I knew that about Puerto Ricans, I didn’t connect the dots though when they offered up the phony stats!

          • Carlos Acevedo

            Hi JPF,

            Well, that’s about the only thing that sets Alexander off from other good-but-not-elite-fighters–that he yelps and barks, I guess….

            I will say that breathing is very important for many endeavors in life, not just boxing.

            Leave it to the New York Times to get the phony stat Lampley, Mayo, Iole, and Rafael throw around correct; the Times noted that Bradley-Alexander was the first unification bout between undefeated CONTINENTAL Americans in 20 something years….The boxing media got that stat from the PR packet the promoters hand out before a big fight…full of BS and as poorly written/researched as what usually passes for writing in boxing. So I guess it’s appropriate.

            It’s hard to imagine Cunningham being considered some sort of great trainer…a few years ago he was roundly mocked for shouting “Do Bing, Bing, Bing, Bing!” in the corner to , I think, Cory Spinks. I’m sure he’s done a lot helping out troubled kids in St. Louis, but right now he’s the kind of “trainer” who can’t even focus in the corner. But he does have a big mouth and that counts for a lot in the boxing business.

            If you want to avoid head butts, you might not want to lunge face-first at your onrushing opponent just to get a clinch going….I guess.

        • johnpaulfutbol

          Furthermore re: the butts, Cunningham enabled Alexander’s inability to handle adversity well, by basically losing his composure after the 1st butt. I’d GTFO of St. Louis and away from Cunningham if Alexander is serious about boxing.

  • El Destruyo

    Thanks for pointing out the utter negativity with which Alexander fought last night; much as Bradley’s tendencies with his head concern me (I agree that he fights less attempting to butt, than not giving a shit if he butts…but I sorta wish he would), he was the only man in the ring trying to fight last night, while Alexander kept moving himself out of range and clutching.

    An ugly event, albeit one that had to happen. My dream fight now, which will never happen but would be hilarious is Alexander against the Argentine Caveman.

    • Carlos Acevedo

      Hi El Destruyo,

      You’re welcome. I’m all for aiding the public interest.

      I don’t mean to be too harsh on Alexander, but he has never been too high on the TCS radar. The man is not even on my P-4-P list! I don’t know why people tend to parrot the superlatives of Dan Rafael, etc., but it happens all the time. Alexander has never been exciting except for his KO of Urango, and he wasn’t exactly blowing out the set-ups he was in the ring with before that. He is, at least, a much better fighter than Danny Jacobs. Give me a pro, like Bradley, any day over these guys who slap and bark. While Alexander was holding and yelping, Bradley did all the work.

      Bradley needs to curb his head. He also needs to learn how to throw a straight right–tighten it up a little bit–Alexander would have been laid out if Bradley could have pinpointed his right a little better. The fight was a dud, but it didn’t have to be so preposterously handled by nearly everyone involved: the promoters, the media, and HBO. Absurd stuff all around. But it’s true that the fight had to/should have been made and at the very least it has exposed Alexander for the amateur that he is. Now, alas, HBO is stuck with him for a contractually obligated fight against TBA for over $1 million. Sigh.

      Alexander vs. Maidana–oh boy! That fight completely hinges on the referee, IMO. Someone who lets fighters get busy on the inside–Kenny Bayless, maybe–would mean a destructive KO by Maidana… A fighter who actually initiates as much clinching as Alexander does is doomed against Maidana. All that man needs is six inches and one free hand. On the flipside, Maidana offers many more offensive opportunities than a guy like Bradley. Alexander might be able to land a lot more of his pitty pats against a wide-open, squared-up target. Like you, I don’t think it’ll happen, but I think it would be a lot more fun than Alexander-Bradley.

  • http://theboxingbulletin.com Andrew Fruman

    Much ado about nothing sums it up. Bradley tried his best to make a fight of it, but Alexander seemed content to keep exchanges to an absolute minimum which is never fun to watch.

    I’d really like to see Bradley in with someone that’s capable of standing their ground and battling him. I think a Maidana match-up would be a lot of fun, and if a Khan fight can’t get made, that would be a nice alternative.

    • Carlos Acevedo

      Hi Andrew,

      well, I’m sure it was at least an experience that you will remember forever even if you hear constant barking in your dreams from now on.

      Bradley did his best, but, as you say, Alexander was only interested in spoiling, not what you want from a “superstar.”

      A lot of people are talking about Bradley vs. Khan, but it sounds iffy to me. Khan reportedly has a $1.25 minimum guarantee from Golden Boy and Bradley just made that for fighting Alexander. If they both ask for more loot, which is likely, HBO might not be able to scrape up the ducats.

  • nashingun

    i dont mean to be negative but bradley was slapping his punches on alexander. that makes me think why bradley’s KO record is low. i guess if bradley wants to win an even bigger fights he must make his hands punch stronger or else he will be KOd easily by either maidana or khan even before he riches to mayweather or pacquiao.

    • Carlos Acevedo

      Hi Nashingun,

      It’s true Bradley can’t punch. He’s dropped a lot of fighters in the ring–Edner Cherry, Lamont Peterson, and Junior Witter–but he wasn’t able to finish them off. I suspect his lack of power will cost him against Khan, but maybe Maidana gets hit too much and the accumulation of blows affects him. Either way, they both have to look out for his head! Bradley is no match for Mayweather or Pacquiao at this point.

  • sammlung

    One thing I find kind of shocking is how close a lot of boxing fans think the fight was. I think Bradley very clearly won. Don’t fighters get credit for throwing punches with “bad intentions” anymore? Alexander hardly threw a meaningful punch the entire fight. Compubox doesn’t really capture that.

    Tim’s game isn’t pretty, but he is really hungry and I find that endearing. Alexander seems like another one of HBO’s spoiled fighters anointed as the future of the sport before he was really ready.

    In my opinion Amir Khan would wipe the floor with either of the guys. What do you think? Oh and one more thing; who the was that guy in the mink and the bowler hat!?!

    • Carlos Acevedo

      Hi sammlung,

      Thanks for writing.

      I agree–this was an easy fight for Bradley, who barely got hit flush the whole night. Compubox is a joke and I lambasted it a few weeks ago on TCS:

      http://thecruelestsport.com/2010/12/13/the-10th-round-an-overview-or-why-compubox-is-useless/

      I believe the reason some people are saying it was close is because they are justifying their ridiculous hyping of Alexander before the bout and have to try to make themselves look good in retrospect. On this website, I don’t pretend I know everything, and I say “I don’t know,” or “I was wrong” a lot more than most sites do. That makes it easier for me to be objective. Other folks–with their “P-4-P” lists and their “I’m an expert” vibe–find it hard to admit that their over-the-top opinions are worthless.

      I like Bradley for the reasons you point out, too. He’s a solid professional fighter.

      Alexander is no match for Khan, IMO. All he really has going is the fact that he’s a southpaw and tries to impress judges with his slapping. Bradley is a much tougher fight for Khan, simply because Bradley is an intelligent boxer who knows what he has to do in the ring at all times. Still, I think Khan has too many physical advantages going into the ring. But that would be a far better fight than Bradley-Alexander.

      Andrew Fruman, who was at the Silverdome and is a contributor to TCS, told me that the guy in the bowler hat was Cornelius “K-9″ Bundrage….that was some get-up!

  • JDL

    Any piece that incorporates “Sock Puppets”, “Fake the Funk” & “Bark at the Moon” in the same article is alright by me…Alexander is a dog. He was outclassed and looking for a way out and with Bonk, aka: Lil’ Holyfield, aka: Bradley, he was sure to get it, with his multiple headbutts. Alexander was headbutted in the 10th on his left eye, but the fight was stopped because of the cut above his right eye. “Ahhhh, it burns!” He should get a SAG.

    • Carlos Acevedo

      Hi JDL,

      damn…brutal assessment….

      If you want to fight, though, you definitely don’t go crying out loud to the Doctor….But then again, that kind of thing was just the culmination of several unprofessional acts by a completely unprofessional team…Now, for the last two days, all you’ve heard from Cunningham and Alexander is “Oh, he couldn’t perform because of headbutts. Oh, he couldn’t punch with authority because of headbutts.” It looked like he just couldn’t perform, is all….and diving in to shamelessly grab someone around the waist over and over is not a way to avoid headbutts, I don’t think.

      It was a poor performance by a fighter who had dozens of people lined up outside his glory hole…All that nonsense makes it hard to be objective about him, I guess, but he looked nervous in the ring and fought like his only desire was to make things ugly. A smart fighter, like Bradley, probably figured out early that Alexander was, umm, feeling it a bit in the ring. I’m not writing off Alexander–since I never wrote him on or up–but he’s basically an amateur fighter who might be a little mentally weak at this point…