UNCASVILLE, Conn. --- He had followed three rounds as Alexander the Okay with four more as Alexander the Barely Adequate, and Juan Urango had slipped ahead on the card of one ringside judge and was hot on his heels on another’s, so if he was even going to live up to his nickname, the eighth round seemed a pretty good time to do it.
His Alexander the Great mode was on display for no more than half a minute all night, but that turned out to be the final twenty seconds of the fight, when the hunted abruptly turned hunter and delivered the right uppercut that lifted Urango straight up off the canvas and sent him crashing to the floor.
The dazed soon-to-be-former IBF champ did somehow struggle to his feet, but on legs so wobbly that a few heartbeats later he tried to remain erect by throwing his arms around Devon Alexander, and when the latter squirmed out of the embrace, Urango went down anyway. Benjy Esteves began to administer a count, but the next embrace came from the referee as he declared the fight at an end at 1:12 of the round.
Alexander, who had staked his claim to the vacant WBC crown last August when Junior Witter quit on his stool at the same juncture of their fight, added Urango’s IBF version to his collection in the main event of Don King’s eight-bout card at the Mohegan Sun Saturday night. In doing so he became the only man on earth to have stopped the rugged Colombian. Neither Ricky Hatton nor Andre Berto, the only previous opponents to defeat Urango, could put him away. Randall Bailey, as solid a puncher as exists in the 140-pound universe, had Urango down, but on that occasion Urango got back up and beat him.
“We’d been working on that punch all through camp,” said trainer Kevin Cunningham. “I knew it was time to use it and I even yelled ‘Throw the uppercut!’ A split second later he did and Urango was on the floor. It happened so fast I couldn’t believe it myself, so as soon as it was over I said ‘Hey, Devon, did you hear me yell for you to throw that uppercut?’ He just grinned and said ‘Hell, yeah!’”
By the time Urango had been helped back to his corner, Alexander, Cunningham, and the rest of the corner had broken out the red Cardinals’ baseball caps.
“Speed kills,” Alexander said after it was over, but speed alone isn’t usually enough to beat Juan Urango. (You could ask Herman Ngoudjo about that.) As constant as the north star, the Colombian knows only one way to fight: He walks down his opponent by coming straight at him, and since he generally doesn’t mind getting hit while he does it, you’d better have more than a pea-shooter to keep him away. The closest Alexander came to a big punch prior to the ultimate smackdown came in the third, when he caught Urango coming in and landed an uppercut that caught him squarely on the nose. The punch immediately produced a torrent of blood, but Urango barely blinked.
The early rounds of this all-southpaw confrontation had unfolded the way most expected, with a dazzling display of wizardry on Alexander’s part, but while while this flashiness pleased the crowd (and won points with the judges), Urango seemed singularly unimpressed. He might have looked a bit like a 140-pound version of Frankenstein’s monster doing it, but he just kept marching ahead, and by the fourth he started to get there. From then through the seventh Urango grew increasingly comfortable with the notion of walking in to catch Alexander with right hooks. He doesn’t even get embarrassed when he misses them entirely and catches nothing but air -- which is often, even on a good night.
“He didn’t really do anything we didn’t expect him to,” said Alexander, who claimed that at no stage had he been troubled by Urango’s punches. “We knew he would come straight ahead and throw hooks.”
What he he may not have expected, and in fact may not even have noticed, was that in this fight Urango threw almost nothing else. That Alexander landed 96 jabs to his opponent’s 12 was hardly startling, since Urango all but disdains the jab, anyway. Urango’s only big edge came in power punches thrown (301-172) and connected (115-77), but CompuBox doesn’t break that stat down by hand, and if Urango threw 301 non-jabs in this fight, 300 of them must have been right hooks, because he never took the other weapon out of its scabbard. (A Urango cornerman later confirmed that his fighter had injured his left elbow, making the left all but useless.)
Alexander remained undefeated at 20-0, and while King made the expected noise about Alexander the Great having confirmed himself as a “superstar” worthy of fighting the Pacquiaos and Mayweathers of this world, it seems more likely that Devon’s first defense of his newly unified titles may come against ex-champ Zab Judah, who at 32 would seem to possess the necessary qualifications for that role: he retains enough name recognition to sell the fight to television, and his probably too shot to seriously imperil Alexander’s chances of retaining his belts. Moreover, Zab could probably draw a crowd in St. Louis, where the locals still remember what he did to Cory Spinks there five years ago.
Although former Boston College defensive end Derric Rossy floored Zack Page in the sixth round of their co-featured bout, the Ohio veteran hung on for twelve rounds. The shock would have been if he had done anything else. Rossy (25-2) was an easy winner on all three scorecards in retaining the coveted USNBC title, but going the route -- as he always does -- was a victory of sorts for Page (20-28-2) as well.
Midway through the sixth, Rossy, with his back to the ropes, caught Page with a left book followed by a right uppercut that all but picked him off the floor. The New England crowd, smelling blood, encouraged him to finish Page off, but once the opponent wriggled his way out of that jam it was clear he would be there for the long haul. Although Peter Hary’s 120-107 card may have been a bit generous, Don Ballas’ (118-109) and Carlos Ortiz’ (117-110) totals weren’t far behind, and the win will probably push Rossy up another notch or two with the WBC.
Rossy (25-2).who is handled by Sal Musimeci, seemed to have pretty much established his limitations when he was knocked out by Alexander Dimitrenko and Fast Eddie Chambers, but those little bumps in the road came before he signed with King last year. The most immediate dividend of that alliance is evident in the latest WBC ratings, which now list Rossy as the No. 9 heavyweight in the world.
The loser makes for an even more fascinating case study. At just over 200 pounds, Page is about as small as a heavyweight can be these days, and at 36 is in the twilight of a career that never was going anywhere, but there is such a constant demand for his services all around the world that he keeps racking up the frequent flyer miles. Six of his previous nine fights came against undefeated “prospects” whose promoters wanted to make sure they stayed that way, and while Page usually accommodated them, he remains capable of the odd upset -- as happened earlier this year when he traveled to Germany and came back with the scalp of 19-0 Sebastian Koeber. The principal threat to an Opponent earning his living at this level is the 30-day suspension, and Zack has become adept at avoiding those: Four years ago at Foxwoods he was TKO’d in five by then-unbeaten Alonzo Butler. He has now fought 34 times since, and while he only won ten of those, he’s managed to finish on his feet in every one of them.
In last night’s rematch (of a 2007 fight at Monticello Raceway in which Rossy won a unanimous decision) Page may have had an even greater interest in self-preservation, since he was already on the books to fight hometown favorite Hector Ferryro for the root beer title down in Laredo later this month. When those two fought last October, Zack scored another of his upsets. The IBC has sanctioned the rematch between the 19-8-1 Ferryro and the *20-27-2 page as a “world” title bout.
Former WBC cruiserweight champ Wayne Braithwaite had an easy night of it, stopping Adam Harris of Worcester in the first round when Dick Flaherty stopped their contest a second before the bell. Braithwaite, now 24-4, was undefeated when lost to Jean-Marc Mormeck in Worcester four years ago, and had lost four of his last six, albeit against quality opposition. (Mormeck, Guillermo Jones, Enzo Maccarinelli, and Steve Cunningham.) Harris, the brother of onetime heavyweight prospect Bobby Harris, is now 10-3.
In another cruiserweight contest, Ryan (The Irish Outlaw) Coyne of St. Louis had to win the last three rounds to preserve his unbeaten record. Five rounds into his bout against North Carolinian Paul Jenette, Coyne (14-0) trailed on the cards of Mike Hary and Steve Weisfeld, while leading by one on Glenn Feldman’s, but rallied down the stretch to sweep the sixth, seventh, and eighth on all three cards. The 41 year-old Jenette, who didn’t make his pro debut until he was 27, is now 11-3.
Steve Forbes’ boxing career sometimes seems to have been conducted in reverse order. Nearly a decade has passed since his brief reign as a world champion (IBF 130), four years since his reinvention as a junior middle after he went back to Contender school. A loss (to Grady Brewer) in the Staples Center final earned him the opponent’s role against then-unbeaten Demetrius Hopkins in his next outing, and losing a unanimous decision in that one stamped him a safe opponent for Oscar De La Hoya, which in turn qualified him for yet another title shot (vs. Andre Berto), which he also lost.
On Saturday’s Mohegan bill, Forbes, in keeping with this his bass-ackward career trajectory, wound up a participant in the walk-out bout where before a paucity of eyewitnesses, he dropped a majority decision Harrison Cuello, a Bronx-based Dominican whose win was his first in his last six outings. Cuello improved to 19-12-2 with the win, while Forbes is now 34-8.
Angelo Santana, described as an “undefeated freedom-fighting prospect,” scored a fourth-round TKO over Darien Ford of New Orleans when Arthur Mercante Jr. halted their bout at 2:59 of the round. Mercante had earlier penalized Ford a point for holding in the third. Santana is now 8-0 since making his pro debut on the Jones-Trinidad card in New York two years ago. Ford, 11-19, had just two wins in his last 19, both, oddly, against the two biggest names on his resume in their respective hometowns -- Ivan Robinson in Philadelphia and Charles Murray in Rochester.
Calvin Pritchard of Toledo was described as a “midwestern prospect” on the same bout sheet, despite an 0-1-1 record. Pritchard still hasn’t won, but he did manage to hold unbeaten Puerto Rican Antonio Sanchez to a draw in their 4-rounder when the judges split three ways. Clark Sammartino 39-37 for Sanchez, Omar Mintun by the same margin for Pritchard, and Feldman 38-38. Sanchez is now 2-0-1.
South Carolina welter James Hope boosted his record above the .500 mark by posting a unanimous decision over Puerto Rican Andres Navarro (4-3-1) in another early bout. Hope (5-4) won every round on all three cards (Flaherty, Ballas, Carlos Ortiz).
* * *
MOHEGAN SUN ARENA
March 6, 2010
JUNIOR WELTERWEIGHTS: Devon Alexander, 139 1/4, St. Louis, Mo TKO’d Juan Urango, 139 1/2, Moneria, Colombia (8) (Retains WBC title, wins IBF title)
HEAVYWEIGHTS: Derric Rossy, 236 1/4, Medford, NY dec. Zack Page, 208, Warren, Ohio (12)
CRUISERWEIGHTS: Wayne Braithwaite, 200, Guyana TKO’d Adam Harris, 194, Worcester, Mass. (1)
Ryan Coyne, 191, St. Louis, Mo. dec. Paul Jennette, 194, Greensboro, NC (8)
WELTERWEIGHTS: Harrison Cuello, 142, Santo Domingo, D.R. dec. Steve Forbes, 142, Portland, Ore. (8)
Antonio Sanchez, 142, Matamoros, Mexico drew with Calvin Pritchard, 139 1/4, Toledo, Ohio (4)
Angelo Santana, 144, Pinar del Rio, Cuba TKO’d Darien Ford, 147 1/4, New Orleans, La. (3)
James Hope, 142, Rock Hill, SC dec Andres Navarro, 136 1/4, Toa Baja, Puerto Rico (4)
Who will win? Wladimir Klitschko or Tyson Fury?