Alexander, Cloud successfully defend titles!
Brian Grammer and Clint Rosser at ringside; photos by Scott Foster
By way of a hard fought twelve round unanimous decision, Devon Alexander “The Great” (21-0, 13 KOs) successfully defended his IBF and WBC jr welterweight titles at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri this past Saturday. In the co-main event, IBF light heavyweight champion Tavoris “Thunder” Cloud (21-0, 18 KOs) waged a war to successfully defend his title against three-time former champion Glen “The Road Warrior” Johnson (50-14-2, 34 KOs). And in a stunning upset, Cornelius “K9” Bundrage (30-4, 18 KOs) scored a controversial fifth round TKO victory over Cory “The Next Generation” Spinks (37-6, 11 KOs) to capture the IBF jr middleweight title.
An crowd of 9117, including pound-for-pound contender Floyd “Money” Mayweather, former world heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, the St. Louis Rams football team, along with many other champions and celebrities, were in attendance to witness the three world title championship fights that headlined the Don King Productions "Gateway to Greatness" event.
Alexander, in what was his most difficult fight of his professional career, weathered wave after wave of attack from the former Ukrainian Olympic Silver Medalist and prior world 140lb champion Andriy Kotelnik (31-4-1, 13 KOs) to secure the victory.
Rounds one and two were non-eventful with each fighter attempting to establish their jab and the pace of the fight. Kotelnik found his range in round three and shook the champion with a straight right hand to the nose. Alexander met the challenge, shaking off the shot, by firing combinations to the challengers head, setting the scene for the remaining rounds to follow.
In the fifth round, Kotelnik came out of his corner applying constant pressure to Alexander, eventually breaking through the champ’s guard and delivering to Alexander the first cut of his professional career. Alexander’s cut man initially had the gash on the right eye under control, but Kotelnik, seeing the blood, continually pounded the eye with blistering right hands for the remainder of the contest. One of those straight rights delivered some damage to the champion in the seventh, causing Alexander to move backwards in search of some space to avoid the oncoming Ukrainian.
The non-stop, back and forth action continued in the eighth as both fighters pounded each other with combinations. Referee Vic Drachulich momentarily stopped the fight in the ninth round to have the ring doctor take a look at the widening cut on Alexander’s eye, as the blood began to flow again, but the doctor deemed that the bout could continue.
Kotelnik, as if he knew that he was behind on the scorecards, let loose on the combinations during round ten, moving Alexander around the ring with his aggressive style. In round eleven, the champion responded to Kotelnik's pressure throwing crushing left hands to the challengers head.
The crowd, sensing that their champion may be behind on the scorecards chanted “Devon! Devon! Devon!” as the bell rang to begin round twelve. The fighters came to the center of the ring, touched gloves and proceeded to pound one another in a toe-to-toe, action packed, final round.
After the bell rang to end the fight, the perception at ringside was that Alexander, using his stick and jab, had captured many of the early rounds, however, the challenger, finding his range, picked up the pace, moved forward and landed more punches later in the contest.
You could feel the apprehension of the hometown fans as they waited for Michael Buffer to announce the scores. Buffer collected the microphone and told those in attendance and watching at home on HBO, that all three judges, Jerry Roth, Oren Schellenberger, and Denny Nelson, had reached the same result, a 116-112 victory for the still-champ. FightNews scored the contest 115-113 for Alexander.
CLOUD WINS THE WAR!
In the co-main event, IBF light heavyweight champion Tavoris “Thunder” Cloud (21-0, 18 KOs) waged a war against three-time former champion Glen “The Road Warrior” Johnson (50-14-2, 34 KOs) to retain his title.
It was a battle from the opening bell as the fighters met in the center of the ring and started firing. Cloud got the challenger’s attention right from the start by delivering an uppercut to Johnson’s chin, knocking him back. The second round saw Cloud begin his body attack as the challenger countered with left hooks followed by over the top right hands. The following two rounds found the combatants shoulder-to-shoulder delivering whistling combinations to each other in the center of the ring. Midway through the fourth round exchanges, the champion stepped back away from his competitor, pounded his abs with his gloves, and told Johnson to, “Bring it on!”
The fifth round began to swing the tide in Cloud’s favor as he fired a pair of left hands that knocked the 41-year old Jamaican native off balance. Cloud then delivered a four-punch combo, followed by another combination that rocked Johnson severely. The champ, sensing that he had his opponent in trouble, barrelled out of his corner in the sixth and continued the beating, throwing almost twenty unanswered punches at one point as Johnson covered up. Referee Steve Smoger, knowing Johnson’s character, looked closely at the challenger, but did not stop the action. Immediately after the barrage, Johnson retaliated and, in mid-round, tried to regain control by throwing his trademark stiff left jabs, temporarily holding Cloud at bay. It was back-and-forth action in rounds seven and eight. Cloud’s left eye began to visibly swell in the ninth, but the champion and his corner were able to keep the eye open. Johnson continued to pound at the eye with jab after jab, landing 134 of them through the course of the fight. Cloud’s eye finally split in the tenth. Cloud began the eleventh round with a sense of urgency, throwing punches in bunches, desperately trying to keep the “Road Warrior” away from him. Johnson caught up to the champion in the twelth with a crushing right hand and he pressed the remainder of the round, trying to sway the judges’ opinion.
Judges Mike Fitzgerald, Patrick Morley and Fran Bechan all came to the same conclusion, 116-112, enabling Cloud to retain his world title. FightNews also scored the contest the same 116-112.
After the fight, Cloud attributed the swollen and split eye to “being head butted a lot.” He then said, “It was a heck of a fight. I have a lot of respect for Glen.” and, “I am a bad man. I am going to be the unified and undisputed world champion!”
Johnson said, “I made some adjustments throughout the fight. He was throwing a lot of punches, but I was blocking most of them. But, the judges were counting them all.”
BUNDRAGE STUNS SPINKS!
Stunning the crowd and his opponent, Cornelius “K9” Bundrage (30-4, 18KOs) scored a controversial fifth round TKO victory over Cory “The Next Generation” Spinks (37-6, 11 KOs) to capture the IBF jr middleweight title.
Bundrage went on the offensive from the start, pushing Spinks against the ropes while throwing power shot after power shot, trying to stop the former champion. Bundrage was able to pick his shots in the early rounds and Spinks cound not avoid the onslaught. The third round began with the partisan Spinks’ crowd chanting his name, begging their hometown hero to turn the tide against the powerful “K9.” Spinks moved his feet and head as Bundrage continued to fire at him, sensing that the end was near. The fourth round featured more of the same as Spinks was nearly floored by two powerful right hands that were just off of the mark.
About a minute into the fifth round, Spinks, trapped in a corner, spun out and attempted to get away from the pursuing Bundrage. The fighter’s legs became tangled and Spinks tumbled down to the canvas, sliding underneath the ropes to the ring apron. Upon resumption of the round, Bundrage pressed hard and pinned Spinks against the ropes. Spinks tried to stay out of range of the barrage of punches from Bundrage, but "K9" finally connected with a huge right hand to the chin and the five-time former champion was dropped to the canvas.
Spinks made it to his feet as referee Mark Nelson completed the mandatory eight count. The referee motioned for Spinks to follow him but Spinks hesitiated for just a moment and referee waved his arms to stop the fight, delivering to Bundrage his first world championship at 1:28 of the fifth round.
After the stoppage, Spinks stood in his corner shocked at the outcome. “The referee stopped the fight, but I don’t know why," said a disbelieving Spinks. "I totally disagree. He didn’t even hit me and I lost my title.” Spinks’ well regarded trainer, Buddy McGirt, echoed his fighter’s sentitment. “Cory is a world champion and I think that a world champion deserves the benefit of the doubt in that situation,” commented McGirt.
Bundrage, who at 37, became a world champion after a rough Detroit upbringing said: “I knew that I was going to get him. It was just a matter of time. I want Manny Pacquiao next.”
Bundrage’s trainer, Hall of Famer and HBO analyst, Emanuel Stewart stated, “It was a good fight. It could have been better. He was too anxious. He is in a hot division and I am sure that he will get a lot of offers.”
COYNE WINS FIRST TITLE!
Ryan “The Irish Outlaw” Coyne (15-0, 5 KOs) won the first title of his career, stopping Warren “The Hit Man” Browning (12-1-1, 8 KOs) at 2:21 of the ninth round for the vacant WBC USNBC cruiserweight championship.
Coyne, appearing before his hometown crowd, was tentative in the opening round, while Browing pressed forward. Midway through the second round, Coyne found his range and dropped Browing with a sneaky right hand. Browning attempted to move Coyne around the ring, firing powerful uppercuts when in close quarters. Browning seemed to run out of steam in the middle rounds as Coyne continued to pepper his game competitor with left hands. As the end of the seventh round, an exhausted Browning almost fell as he stumbled back to his corner. In the ninth round, Coyne unleashed a series of right hooks to the ample body of Browning followed by a straight left hand, right down the pipe that floored Browning. Referee Mike England completed his eight count and then immediately waved an end to the contest at 2:21 of the round.
ADAEV OUTBOXES TYLER
Welterweight prospect Razman Adaev (8-0-1, 7 KOs) outboxed Chris Tyler (2-4-1, 1 KO) over six rounds to score an unamious decision. Adaev used uppercuts and right crosses to punish his opponent in the early rounds. Tyler was able to briefly turn the momentum in the fifth round as he moved Adaev to the ropes to land some punishing body shots and right hands. Tyler lost a point for ducking between the ropes
GASPARVAN POUNDS DAVIS!
Vardan Gasparvan (12-2-5, 6 KOs) pummelled last-minute subsitute Jesse Davis (11-19-1, 8KOs) into a second round stoppage during a jr middleweight bout. Gasparvan pounded Davis from the opening bell. Gasparvan continued the punishment non-stop in the second round. Gasparvan fired off a series of left uppercuts followed by crushing right hands against the clueless Davis that compelled referee Celestino Ruiz to mercifully stop the action at 2:43 of the second round.
ESPINOZA DESTROYS PEDERSON!
Jorge Espinoza (5-2-0) scored an impressive first round stoppage over Ryan Pederson (2-5-0) in a super featherweight encounter. Both fighters came out swinging but the combinations and constant pressure of Espinoza proved too much for Pederson. Pederson was knocked down twice in the first round and was unable to get up from the second knockdown. Referee Mike England stopped the contest at 1:26 of the first round.