Alexander's career back on track after lopsided win over Maidana
Devon Alexander shone on Saturday with a dominant win over Marcos Maidana
Both Alexander and Maidana were making their debuts at the welterweight level
Alexander had regressed since 2010, but he's now a guy to watch at 147 pounds
Five things we learned from Devon Alexander's unanimous-decision victory over Marcos Maidana on Saturday at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis:
1. Devon Alexander redeemed himself. The rising star known as Alexander the Great had regressed to Alexander the Very Good over the past year-and-a-half thanks to a string of underwhelming outings, most notably an unexciting technical-decision loss to Timothy Bradley that cost him the WBC and IBF junior welterweight titles. But the St. Louis native dazzled Saturday in his welterweight debut, dominating the hard-hitting Maidana and winning 29 of a possible 30 rounds on the three judges' scorecards. (SI.com scored it a 100-90 shutout.) The 25-year-old moved and countered beautifully, using Maidana's aggression against him and even managing to get the better of the inside exchanges. Simply put, Alexander was as sharp and dangerous as he's looked since he knocked out the iron-chinned Juan Urango in March 2010 -- a welcome shift to a narrative that had taken a pessimistic turn.
2. Marcos Maidana couldn't be in a bad fight if he tried. Maidana (31-3, 28 KOs) is virtually unknown beyond hardcore fight fans, but the 28-year-old Argentine must be the best value in boxing today. The guy is just never, ever in a boring fight. A heavy-handed slugger unafraid to take shots to land his own, Maidana scored knockdowns in recent wins over Victor Ortiz, Victor Cayo and Chop Chop Corley -- and had Amir Khan nearly out on his feet in the 10th round of a narrow 12-round points loss. What makes Maidana irresistible to fight fans is he's most dangerous when he's hurt, typically coming off the canvas to do his worst damage. But in a fight billed as boxer-puncher vs. brawler, Alexander's more refined skills left the crude Maidana looking disorganized and confused.
3. Alexander was smart to move up to welterweight. Alexander had blamed his lackluster showings against Bradley, Lucas Matthysse and Andriy Kotelnyk on draining himself to make the 140-pound limit. Saturday's performance lends some credence to the theory, as Alexander clearly looked stronger at the higher weight. ("I've been fighting 140 since I was 15 years old," he said afterward. "My power's there at 147.") The hometown favorite nearly ended it in the sixth round, when a straight right appeared to dump Maidana to the canvas -- referee Steve Smoger ruled Alexander pushed him down -- and the Argentine appeared dazed. Maidana survived but didn't mount a serious threat the rest of the way, as Alexander -- showing impressive stamina and conditioning -- controlled the distance and coasted to the finish.
4. Maidana should move back down to 140 pounds. Maidana, who still holds the WBA junior welterweight title, was making his welterweight debut on Saturday -- and it's looking like his stay in the division will be a temporary one. Never in 34 pro fights has the Argentine been dominated as thoroughly as he was Saturday in St. Louis; both his previous losses were razor-thin decisions. Maidana is one of boxing's hardest hitters as his 28 knockouts in 31 victories imply, but his devastating power didn't seem to carry to the higher weight. He simply looked out of his depth, admitting as much afterward. "That wasn't my division," he said through an interpreter. "I was slower."
5. Alexander is one to watch in boxing's glamour division. Everyone knows Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao are the two best fighters in the talent-rich welterweight division. But the pecking order beyond them is much less defined, with 147-pounders like Andre Berto, Victor Ortiz, Vyacheslav Senchenko, Kell Brook and Mike Jones all jockeying for their spots. With Mayweather and Pacquiao in no apparent hurry to fight one another, it's fights like Alexander-Maidana that could decide who's next in line for the sport's biggest cash cows. Let's see Alexander fight the winner of the June rematch between Ortiz and Berto to determine the de facto No. 3 at welterweight.