Devon Alexander beats Juan Urango at Mohegan Sun

By Alex Pierpaoli

originally published 3/7/10 on


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 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 avboid 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.  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.

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Interview with Bernard Hopkins

Lunch with a Middleweight King

By Alex Pierpaoli

originally published in 2 parts on in March of 2005

I am a fan of long reigning, undisputed middleweight champions. In these days of Jeff Gannon, Armstrong Williams and media sources that spin news more than disseminate it; I need to clarify where I stand. The first fighter I remember rooting for was Marvelous Marvin Hagler before his fight with Thomas Hearns. I had watched Ray Mancini a couple times before that and I even remember hearing of both of Ali-Spinks fights. But before Hagler I didn’t really know or care much about boxing. Hagler and his 8 minute war with Hearns changed all of that. And it opened my eyes to middleweights; the perfect balance between the bone cracking power of heavies and the lightning speed of the lightweights.

As Bernard Hopkins’ career progressed and he piled up successful title defenses he took on the guise of the Marvelous One of this generation. In Hopkins we see a crafty, roughhewn man who toiled in relative obscurity for years, honing his skills and learning his craft away from the sparkle and glitz reserved for some of boxing’s superstars. The ex-convict turned pro-fighter, the Executioner imagery; Hopkins cultivated some of the same primal archetypes that the bald skull and the punches he’d throw at himself before the bell, did for the Marvelous One. They also share the Philadelphia connection.

For Hagler, some of his toughest fights and two of his three losses took place in Philadelphia. Bernard Hopkins is the first born and bred Philadelphia middleweight king; it seems natural to imagine the two in the ring against each other. And it is because we can envision them squaring up, feinting at each other, slipping and winging bombs; because we can see it so vividly we know Hopkins now occupies that legendary place in boxing that is reserved for only the greatest of champions. So when this writer had the opportunity to sit in on a luncheon that Hopkins was to attend at The Mohegan Sun, there was no way it could be missed.

Meeting Bernard Hopkins and listening to him speak is a privilege for anyone with a passion for the Sweet Science. He is very lean, and appears taller than expected. His eyes are clear and alert; there is no dullness in his gaze that can sometimes be seen in fighters whose careers were not as successful, filled more with punches absorbed rather than punches landed. There is no scar tissue in Hopkins’ brow and his gait is precise and sure-footed, far more like a dancer than a brute.
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