by Alex Pierpaoli
photos by Rich Esposito
Devon Alexander unified the WBC & IBF 140 pound titles in beating Juan Urango by eighth round TKO at Mohegan Sun Arena. Alexander, of St. Louis, used smart, aggressive boxing to checkmate the wild-swinging, hard-charging Colombian, Juan Urango, stopping him for the first time in his 25 bout career. The Alexander-Urango fight was featured live on HBO’s Boxing After Dark to cap an eight bout card promoted by the fight game’s own P.T. Barnum, Don King.
In a sport that sees fewer and fewer American stars each year, Devon Alexander stepped forward as a fighter to watch with his brilliant performance versus Urango. Alexander-Urango pitted two southpaws against each other but it was clear from the outset that Alexander’s speedy right jabs were getting to the target before Urango’s wide right hooks and plaguing the Colombian who tried repeatedly to get his offense started. Alexander, unlike other similarly-styled boxers, uses upper body movement to avoid blows rather than distance and stayed close to the danger zone and well within Urango’s punching range while using constant but incremental side-to-side movement to force the aggressive Urango to pursue him. Alexander’s skillful use of distance kept the fight exciting and competitive. And although Urango was able to connect with power shots in rounds three, five and six, he was never able to hurt or stun Alexander, despite winning as many as four rounds on one judge’s scorecard.
Urango was bleeding from the nose and an abrasion above his left eye in round two that appeared to have been caused by a snappy right hook by Alexander. The right uppercut was another power punch that Alexander had success with from the start. Landing from long range or in close, Alexander strafed Urango with the nasty uppercut which Alexander admitted later he and trainer Kevin Cunningham had worked to perfect in training camp.
Their work paid off.
In round eight, Alexander connected with a picture-perfect right uppercut that caught Urango on the face just as he was throwing a left hand power shot and the Colombian slugger was instantly flat on his back as the crowd of 3117 let out a collective gasp. Urango was up at eight and ready to continue but in true professional fashion, Alexander rushed forward and finished things off with another well placed combination including another uppercut which dropped Urango again. Referee Benji Esteves stopped the bout at 1:12 of round eight.
Afterwards, Alexander, now 20-0 with 13 kos, hinted at an upcoming bout with former 140 & 147 pound titlist Zab Judah, who was ringside for the Main Event. Judah knocked out another St. Louis native, former welterweight champ Cory Spinks in Missouri in 2005 and promoter Don King looks to be setting the stage for Alexander to try and avenge Spinks’ defeat to Judah in the coming months.
After his performance versus Juan Urango, Devon Alexander certainly looks up to the task. During the in-ring post-fight interview with HBO’s Max Kellerman, broadcast to the arena on the PA system, Alexander made it clear what he thought about a fight with Brooklyn’s Judah.
“Zab’s the past tense,” Alexander said. “I’m the present tense.”
In defeat Juan Urango returns to Colombia with a record of 22-3-1 (17).