Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Junior Witter vs Devon Alexander Preview

Michael Nelson previews this Saturday night's junior-welterweight showdown between Junior Witter and Devon Alexander.

Photo © Justin McKie

Junior Witter has been here before. The crafty southpaw from Sheffield, England took on an undefeated, young prospect by the name of Timothy Bradley last year. Bradley was the underdog, as Witter represented the type of leap in competition that an untested fighter usually falls short in.

Bradley defied the odds by going to Nottingham and snatching Witter's WBC belt. On Saturday, Witter looks to regain his belt - which Bradley vacated earlier this year - against another relatively untested, undefeated fighter. This time, Junior's the underdog; nearly 2 to 1.

Make sure to check back in with us on Saturday night for our live blog coverage of this event

The dominance his opponent, St. Louis native Devon Alexander, has flashed during his path to a title shot is one of the reasons why the former champ isn't the betting favorite. Alexander has scarcely lost a round in his career. And he delivered a more consistent and even performance against DeMarcus Corley than Witter did, though it can be argued that Witter fought a younger and hungrier version of Corley. Their fights against Demarcus highlighted the contrast in styles - Witter was playful, often looking bored as he waited for Corley to give him counter opportunities; Devon was completely professional, always working out of a tight guard behind a persistent jab.

Nevertheless, besides the shopworn Corley, Alexander's competition has been completely nondescript. His last fight was against journeyman Jesus Rodriguez, who was a mild step up from Christopher Fernandez and Sun-Haeng Lee, a fighter with a 9-3-1 record. It makes you wonder what exactly he did to deserve a title shot. That is, until you remember his promoter's Don King.

But earned or not, Alexander has been looking forward to his title opportunity since his teenage years spent admiring fellow St. Louisan Cory Spinks.

"We would bring Devon to the title fights, and when Cory became world champion, Devon would walk out with the belt," said Kevin Cunningham, longtime trainer for Spinks and Alexander, in an interview with

It helped keep Devon motivated for a day Cunningham knew was coming. His volume punching, combined with a sharp jab and a deep reservoir of energy, looks to be the ingredients that could give Witter fits. Witter faded noticeably in his bouts with Lovemore Ndou, Andriy Kotelnik, and Bradley; a dip in energy against Devon's steady stream of punches can lead to him getting outworked down the final stretch.

What Witter can hang his hat on is that a high workrate equals a high number of openings for a counter. The accomplished sharpshooter will have plenty of spots to display his advantages in speed and power, especially to the midsection, an area that Alexander often leaves exposed while keeping his high guard. The durability of the 22 year old prospect is a question mark that will undoubtedly be answered by the withering uppercuts and slashing right hooks Witter throws from unorthodox angles. If Devon's ability to take a shot is anything less than world class, he won't be seeing 12 rounds.

At 35 years old, Witter is getting up there in age. This may be his last opportunity to gain a stronghold in the division. The victor is a natural candidate for a fight against the winner of the card's main event between Timothy Bradley and Nate Campbell.

But standing in his way is a student who understands that history tends to repeat itself. If Witter wants to avoid another crushing defeat, he'll have to use his guile and power to teach the young man a lesson. Otherwise, he risks being relegated to a stepping stone for aspiring champions.

Make sure to check back in with us on Saturday night for our live blog coverage of this event

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Anonymous said...

Nice preview. Gonna be a cracker.