Alexander Survives Knockdown, Defeats Matthysse By Split Decision
ST. LOUIS, MI — Amidst some boos from his hometown fans, Devon Alexander survived a debilitating body assault from power-puncher Lucas Matthysse to win a narrow split decision last night (June 25).
Alexander controlled the first three rounds by fighting off the backfoot and forcing the slow Matthysse to lunge after him with power shots. The St. Louis native peppered his Argentinian foe with right jabs and straight lefts in round one. In the second, Alexander landed several solid straight lefts after catching a hard right to the body. The third saw Alexander miss a lot of his offense, but still outland his opponent.
Matthysse turned the tide emphatically in the fourth by scoring a balance knockdown off a counter straight right. Alexander’s 1-2 was timed, and the former titlist now continued backpedaling but without throwing. Matthysse pounced on his opportunity by scoring thudding ,looping right hands. The punch found its hardest effect when Alexander retreated to the ropes.
Alexander rebounded well in the fifth by standing in the pocket with hard left jabs. Matthysse was undeterred and continued winging hooks in hopes of another knockdown. Alexander wisely went to the body with an assortment of hooks for the most telling blows of the round. Matthysse would return the favor in the sixth, but added jarring left uppercuts up close. These punches reduced Alexander to fighting in spurts and relying on shoesine, pity pay flurries.
With only three rounds remaining, Lucas Matthysse came out with a vengenance in round seven. The Argentian slugger again forced Alexander to the ropes and scored with straight rights and uppercuts. The crowd murmured in concern as Matthysse measured Alexander with more body shots to win the most dominant round of the fight for either fighter.
Matthysse’s assault would continue in the eighth. He scored with most of his power shots upstairs, and Alexander doubled over after being strafed to the solar plexus by a Matthysse straight right. Alexander punches had no power. The body attack sapped his leg strength, forcing him to trade up close with a physically strong and more powerful puncher.
After several rounds of pleas from trainer Kevin Cunningham to box and hold in close, Devon Alexander got a second win in ninth. Impressively, Alexander boxed on his toes and completely nullified Matthysse’s offense. Matthysse found himself getting tagged with straight lefts while following Alexander around the ring. The only positive for Matthysse this round was a hard left hook to the body in the closing seconds.
With the fight on the table in the 10th, it would be Lucas Matthysse who finished strong. Matthysse clipped Alexander with a left hook just seconds in, and followed up his advantage with an equally hard right. Alexander’s attempt to counter with a flurry was met by another Matthysse left hook and uppercut as Alexander perilously rested on the ropes. Matthysse never stopped working or coming forward, and capped the final seconds by attacking Alexander’s body in the clinch.
The divergent scores reflected judges split between Alexander’s flurries and movement against Matthysse’s hard punching and impressive body attack. One judge gave Matthysse a clear win by a score of 96-93, while another gave Alexander the nod with the exact score. The deciding vote would give Devon Alexander a one point win with a score of 95-94, eliciting relived joy from the Alexander camp, stunned and angered disbelief from Matthysse’s side, and a mixed reaction from the St. Louis crowd.
“I didn’t enjoy watching a rugged, tough guy like Matthysse in there with my fighter. I knew it was gonna be tough,” trainer Kevin Cunningham said afterward. “I didn’t want to see my fighter trading with a puncher like Matthysse, but because of all the criticism he took after the Bradley fight, he felt he had something to prove in his hometown. I think when Devon reviews the tape of the fight, he’ll see that he was at his most effective when he was using his boxing skills to the fullest.”
Alexander, who suffered the first knockdown of his career, said Matthysse’s pressure reminded him of the tactics Timothy Bradley used to defeat him in January. He cited his determination to redeem himself from that loss as the reason Matthysse was unable to break his will.
“Matthysse is a rough and tough fighter. I brought the fight out in me because people had their doubts about my abilities as a boxer,” he stated. “The knockdown [first of his career] was a flash knockdown [in the fourth round]. I had to pull it out. I was having flashbacks from my last fight with Bradley, and I wasn’t going to lose two fights in a row. As a matter of fact, I’m never going to lose again.”
Lucas Matthysse, suffering a second controversial decision loss after also knocking down Zab Judah in his last fight, called the judge’s verdict an absolute robbery. Still, he blamed himself for not finishing the job after knocking down Alexander in the fourth.
“I gave it my all. It was a tough fight but I thought I won,” Matthysse said. “Once again, I was robbed. He’s lucky he won the fight. I thought when I put him down, I’d finish him off but I couldn’t.”
On the undercard, Tavoris Cloud rebounded from a slow start to knock out Yusef Mack in the eighth round. Mack befuddled Cloud early on with movement before being broke down by pressure and body punching. Cloud would end matters with whipping left hook followed by a flurry of shots to the body and head. Cloud expressed his desire to face former champion Jean Pascal next.
“Yusaf Mack is a good fighter. I can’t take nothing away from him. I just caught him with some good shots, Cloud explained. “If you noticed, he was tiring down. I heard him breathing hard during the last three rounds. I was telling him, ‘You’re tired, aren’t you?’ The whole game plan was to go to the body. He wasn’t hurting me. I knew he was a bouncy-bouncy guy, an in-and-out guy. I wore him down with body shots and took him out. Jean Pascal is here tonight. If he’s ready, I’m ready. I’m ready for anybody.”
In the HBO triple-header’s first bout, Bermane Stiverne gave a good ending to a woeful bout by KO’ing aged veteran Ray Austin in the 10th. Stiverne lack of activity allowed Austin to jump out to an early lead before stamina issues caused Stiverne to catch back up in the middle rounds.
Ismael AbduSalaam is the creator of Beats, Boxing & Mayhem, a website specializing in boxing and Hip-Hop culture, and a member of the Boxing Writer’s Association of America. He can be followed on Twitter @Allahschild.