A low intensity under the wire Don King promotion is coming up this weekend in St Louis, Missouri at the Scottrade Center headlining an emerging, engaging new WBC/IBF 140 lb champion, Devon Alexander defending against former WBA champion, Andriy Kotelnik.
The 140 lb junior welterweight division has transformed into boxing’s hottest with the emergence of the 23 yr old Alexander, Gary Bradley, Marcos Maidana, and Amir Khan, all youthful and full of talent, but the perpetual question forever remains in boxing as to whether they will ever fight each other because of promoter rivalries?
Perhaps, but for now young Alexander has a major hurdle in defending against a very tough, very technically sound Ukrainian, Kotelnik, who is used to traveling for big fights, yet just now making his American debut at age 32.
On paper, it seems the most important advantages point to Alexander being younger, faster, and more powerful, a combination that has been traditionally difficult to beat, but not impossible. Kotelnik has been an under promoted, under appreciated block of what Americans call faceless East European fighters who have emerged enmasse since the end of The Cold War and the break up of the Soviet Empire.
Andriy Kotelnik, however, is the more experienced fighter with 35 fights and 256 rounds in the bank compared to Alexander’s 20 fights and 106 rounds and at age 32 coming off a tough loss of his WBA crown to Amir Khan in England, Kotelnik remains a hungry, viable contender. He is also the 2000 Olympic lightweight silver medalist, so with a record of 31-3-1 and never having been stopped, he has a long record of excellence that cannot be sneered away for being unknown in America.
From the few bouts I’ve seen of Kotelnik, his style is that of being ring center and counter punching primarily from a sound defensive stance. Khan took his belt by taking flight while peppering him with a fusillade of popcorn, but I doubt Alexander would employ this style since Kotelnik’s biggest weakness is his lack of power, only a 37% knockout percentage with only 1 KO win out of his last 6 fights.
Alexander has the opposite “problem” after having won the last 5 of 6 by stoppage, he may be falling in love with his power and underestimate what a tough fight that Kotelnik really is. Kotelnik stood up against wincing, crunching shots by one of the most powerful p4p punchers in boxing, Marcos Maidana, and slowly worked his way back into that fight by sheer will and technical excellence.
No sir, this is no cupcake homecoming defense for Alexander, however it must also be noted that Alexander is the only fighter to have ever stopped Junior Witter and Juan Urango, and these in his last two fights when he first burst upon the champion’s podium, thus the dilemma.
The Irresistible Force is going straight up against The Immovable Object.
Which may also describe the supporting bout where another young emerging champion, Tavoris Cloud with his 90% knockout percentage puts his undefeated record and Lightheavy IBF title on the line against always tough veteran, The Road Warrior, Glencoffe Johnson who’s stood up to heavy fire against his era’s best. They are the two large bookends in the above photo.
The televised card could scarcely ask for two more action oriented fights than this, so you might want to tune in.