Timothy Bradley wasn’t the only reason Devon Alexander lost, it was the voices around him including many in the media who cited the St. Louis boxer as the faster of the two.
Blame the media for Alexander’s loss. They mentioned it so often that Alexander actually believed it.
“Desert Storm” Bradley swept through Alexander’s defense and so-called superior speed with ease in winning the battle between undefeated junior welterweights and taking his WBC belt back.
“I was faster,” exhorted Bradley by telephone immediately following the end of the fight. “I’m not trying to brag, but I’m faster and my strength is my strength.”
Before the fight and even during the initial rounds the HBO television crew including famed trainer Emanuel Steward insisted Alexander was the faster fighter. By round three it was obvious that Bradley had quicker hands, quicker feet and the willingness to match his speed and power against Alexander the Great.
Speed isn’t the most important factor in boxing but it sure helps. When speedy Floyd Mayweather Jr. was set to fight against the equally speedy Zab Judah in 2006, the question was posed: how to beat a speedy fighter?
“Timing beats speed,” said Mayweather who proceeded to conquer Judah when they met.
Of course speed gives many boxers an advantage but one distinct disadvantage is when a fighter walks into a fight thinking he’s the quicker fighter and suddenly is overcome by a blitz of punches from all angles.
Bradley surprised Alexander with superior hand speed and foot speed just as he did against Britain’s Junior Witter back in 2008. On that day too Witter was supposedly faster fighter. Then he got dropped and realized he was not.
Judging speed in a boxer is not always easy. Probably the best way to determine the faster boxer is matching them together. After a few rounds of exchanges the truly faster fighter will pull ahead and land more. It happened in Bradley’s win.
A number of possibilities await Bradley in the talent rich junior welterweight division. There’s current IBF titleholder Amir Khan who not only has speed to match Bradley but long arms too. Others include Argentina’s duo of bombers, Marcos Maidana and Lucas Matthysse, who aren’t as fast but punch like they have anvils in their gloves.
“I’ll fight whoever the fans want me to fight,” Bradley says.
Fastest boxers today
A number of elite fighters stand alone in the speed category. One fighter who’s kept the radar gun humming for more than a decade has been Mayweather. Together with his superb defense and masterful boxing technique Mayweather has remained unbeaten since turning professional in 1996.
Andre Berto has emerged as another of the quicker pugilists on the scene. The welterweight hasn’t been tested on the elite level but does exhibit wonderful hand and foot speed. His one punch knockout of Mexico’s Freddy Hernandez exemplified blinding quickness.
Nonito Donaire, a bantamweight, has shown top notch speed throughout his career. The one-punch knockout of Vic Darchinyan was an example of the faster boxer beating the other to the punch. It ended brutally and with sudden crushing finality.
Manny Pacquiao has also used speed to climb all the way from the 112-pound flyweight division to the 154-pound junior middleweight division. A sturdy chin also helped, but his pure speed enabled him to get out of trouble on the double against the bigger bangers.
Speed is a wonderful thing if you know how to use it. Last weekend, Bradley finally showed he’s one of the fastest guns in the west or east.
Fights on television
Fri. ESPN2, 6 p.m., Sergio Mora (22-1-2) vs. Bryan Vera (17-5).
Fri. Showtime, 11 p.m., Lateef Kayode ( 15-0) vs. Nicholas Iannuzzi ( 16-1).
Sat. pay-per-view, 7 p.m., UFC Anderson Silva (27-4) vs. Vitor Belfort (19-8).
Sat. Fox Sports, 8 p.m., Francisco Sierra (23-3) vs. Dyah Davis (18-2).
Who will win the Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward fight?