It wouldnt shock or amaze me if Devon Alexanders mind hasnt been as focused on his Aug. 7 opponent, Andriy Kotelnik. But it would shock me, slightly, if he will be made to pay severely for thinking one step ahead, to his next foe after Kotelnik, which is looking like itll be Tim Bradley.
On a stacked, marathon conference call on Wednesday afternoon, the St. Louis-born Alexander and trainer Kevin Cunningham seemed well aware that Kotelnik is not a mere trifle, that he will be in it to win it on the Don King card, which will take place at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. That said, Bradley, who just scored a decision win on Saturday against Luis Carlos Abregu, was on peoples minds and their tongues on the call. Cunningham, ever feisty, said Bradley was subpar against Abregu. Alexander concurred. It was real subpar. I saw nothing special. I dont see the hype. He has heart, but hes nothing special. It was lame performance. Cunningham said he found it disgrace that Bradley called out Manny Pacquiao after his victory, and that Bradley hasnt earned the right be in the mix with Pacman, or Mayweather.
Kotelnik (31-3, with just 13 KOs), coming off a UD loss to Amir Khan last summer, holds meaningful wins over Marcos Maidana and Gavin Rees, held the WBA junior welter crown, before dropping it to Khan. He more than held his own on the call. If they are taking me lightly, said the Ukrainian, who said hes been learning new tricks from new trainer Stacy McKinley, they will be mistaken. They say, The Russians are coming. The Ukrainians are already here.
IBF and WBC junior welter champ Alexander (20-0 with 13 KOs) assured one and all that he wasnt looking past Kotelnik, and Cunningham reiterated that point, saying that he wouldnt let it happen. We can talk about prospects, he said. We can walk and chew gum at the same time. King promised fight fans, who can watch this bout, and a Glen Johnson-Tavoris cloud scrap, on HBO, that Kotelnik wouldnt be coming to the US to accommodate.
One bit of news that emerged from the call: Cunningham admitted that he changed Alexanders birth certificate, changing it to appear as though he was 17, and legal to fight in the National Golden Gloves, rather than 16 years old. He went on to beat everyone in his weight class, Cunningham said of Alexander, the national champ at light welter in 2004, and an Olympic Trials finalist in 2004.
The 23-year-old Alexander said that the 32-year-old Kotelnik may well be the second best fighter at 140, and is certainly better than Bradley, while praising his defense and his ability to keep his hands up. Skills wise, I think Bradley is number three (at 140), he said. Kotelnik countered, through an interpreter, saying, I dont see anything great in Alexander either. He hasnt beaten anyone that deserves special attention. And guess what? Kotelnik has a point. Best wins over aged Junior Witter and Juan Urango, a strong plodder, arent a majestic resume. However, Cunningham basically acknowledged as much, saying his kid has much more to do to get to where he wants, which is mega-fight territory. The trainer, after his ire was raised by Kotelniks jabs, said that Alexander would retire Kotelnik.
Cunningham had previously said his guy would score a KO inside two rounds. He backed off, saying it is possible that Alexander might punish Kotelnik for awhile, but that he didnt think the challenger could stand up to this type of beating for twelve rounds. In his three losses, he hasnt been stopped, so a stoppage win would be a decent feather in the Alexander cap.
He and Cunningham agreed that he hasnt received as much acclaim as might be expected for stopping Urango (TKO8) back in March. If Bradley or Khan had done that, Cunningham said, the proclamations would be louder. He took another slap at Bradley, saying he works with his head down, and doesnt know where his punches are going.
Also on the call were Glen Johnson (50-13-2) and Tavoris Cloud (20-0 with 18 KOs). Johnson comes off a win over Yusaf Mack (TKO6) in February, and won the right to face IBF 175 pound champ with that effort. At age 41, he admitted he never knows how much longer he has in the game, but offered some keen insight some young fighters might want to hear. He took the Mack fight for next to nothing, for the opportunity it potentially provided, and voila. He will get a crack at the relatively untested Cloud, who looked sharp in winning the vacant belt, against Clinton No Relation Woods in September 2009. Hes been inactive because of promotional woes, he said, but indicated that he thinks Johnson has seen better days, and would exit St. Louis a loser. I dont think Ill have any problem winning the fight, said the 28-year old Floridian. (Who FYI holds a 3-28-2008 KO1 win over Mike No Relation Wood.)
Johnson, the IBFs number one contender, chose not to get into the gutter, or engage in brash banter. He knows at his age, its best to conserve energy, and besides, thats never been his way. He did say that Cloud is nothing I havent seen before.
BTW, Cory Spinks is on the card, facing off against Cornelius Bundrage, in defense of his IBF junior middleweight crown. HBO will not show that tussle.
TSS Universe, weigh in with your picks. Who ya like? Could Alexander be overrated? Could he look past the rugged Kotelnik? Could The Road Warrior have any surprise showing up his sleeve? Is Cloud a secret star in the making? Fire away!
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV