Raucous Press Conference Kicks Off ‘Gateway to Greatness’

ST. LOUIS—A typical boxing press conference today at Scottrade Center in St. Louis suddenly turned raucous after undefeated unified 140-pound world champion Devon Alexander’s trainer told former WBA junior welterweight champion Andriy Kotelnik, a Ukrainian making his first visit to America, “That’s a long way to come for an ass whuppin.’

Alexander (20-0, 13 KOs), from St. Louis, will put his WBC and IBF crowns on the line against Kotelnik (31-3-1, 13 KOs) in an Aug. 7 world championship doubleheader that will also feature undefeated IBF light heavyweight champion Tavoris “Thunder” Cloud (20-0, 18 KOs), from Tallahassee, Fla., taking on former IBF world champion Glen Johnson, from Jamaica now fighting out of Miami.

Kotelnik did not take kindly to Cunningham’s comments on behalf of Alexander.

“They say it’s a long way to come for an ass kicking, but I have a question for Devon Alexander after his people have made all these boasts,” Kotelnik said. “Will Devon come back and fight me in a rematch in the Ukraine after I kick his ass?

“There will be an ass kicking, but St. Louis will be surprised who will be doing it.”

Cunningham had more for Kotelnik.

“I never make predictions, and I wasn’t going to tell the public this, but I just told my team last week that Devon’s going to knock out Kotelnik in two rounds. We’re kicking his ass.”

Alexander was more reserved in his comments.

“Kotelnik is a good, solid fighter. But I’m a better fighter. His time has come and gone. He was a champion but he’s not anymore, and he’s certainly not going to be champion after this fight.

Cunningham, before he made his bolder comments, spoke of how proud he is of Alexander.

“Devon is the perfect example of what you can do with hard work and dedication,” Cunningham said. “He was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He wasn’t even the best fighter in my gym, but look at him now. Look at what hard work and remembering to rise above your circumstances can do.”

Promoter Don King was his normal effusive self.

“So you know, what we have is here is like when Dorothy clicked her heels in the Wizard of Oz, like when Marvin Gayle said, ‘Something’s Goin’ On,’ we’ve got something big going on in St. Louis on Aug. 7,” King said. “Two world championships already, and I’m not done building the card yet.”

Light heavyweight world champion Cloud said his fight with Johnson will be a good one.

“Glen comes right at you and nobody will be running in this fight,” Cloud said. “That’s not my style. Glen is a good fighter and so am I. St. Louis will get more than their money’s worth come Aug. 7.”

Johnson’s thoughts were much the same as Cloud’s in summing up their fight.

“I see a lot of similarity in my style and Tavoris Cloud’s style,” Johnson said. “He likes to come forward and so do I. We’re both going into the kitchen to do some cooking, and St. Louis will get the meal.”

Tickets priced at $17.50, $35, $70, $150 and $300 went on sale this morning at Scottrade Center Box Office, all Ticketmaster Ticket Centers, by phone at1-800-745-3000, or online at ticketmaster.com. A per ticketfacility feewill be added to all tickets purchased at all locations, including at the Scottrade Center Box Office. Additional Ticketmaster service charges and handling fees apply. For disabled seating, call 314-622-5420. The event is being promoted by Don King Productions, and doors will open at 5:30 p.m. followed by a full undercard. The above-mentioned world championships will be televised live on HBO’s Boxing After Dark beginning at 10 p.m. ET/PT (9 p.m. CT). Cloud vs. Johnson is presented in association with DiBella Entertainment and Warriors Boxing Promotions.