Two young champions who want to become stars will try to do so at the expense of veteran ex-champs when Devon Alexander meets Andreas Kotelnik and Tavoris Cloud defends against Glen Johnson at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
Will youth be served or will experience prevail? The CompuBox histories may provide hints. Factors include:
Alexander's Improving Jab: Against Miguel Callist (100 of 492, 20 percent), Junior Witter (46 of 265, 17 percent) and Jesus Rodriguez (12 of 306, 4 percent), Alexander's stick was dismal. But against Juan Urango - Alexander's best and most experienced opponent to date - he stepped up his game. Not only did he throw more jabs (44.8 per round as opposed to a combined 36.7 against the other three, far above the divisional average of 24.8) his connect percentage rose from 14.9 to 26.8.
His more effective jab also amplified his power numbers as he landed 44.8 percent (77 of 172) as opposed to a combined 33.8 percent against the other three. This is crucial because, unlike most fighters, the jab comprises the majority of Alexander's offense against quality opponents. The jab-to-power punch ratio was 68-32 against Urango while it was 60-40 against Witter and 52-48 against Callist. Against the lesser Rodriguez, Alexander felt free to bomb away (54-46 in favor of power shots).
In other words, Alexander goes as the jab goes and he'll need it to control the seasoned Kotelnik.
Kotelnik Versus Volume: Alexander is a busy fighter (a four-fight average of 69.6, 13 percent higher than the divisional average) and history indicates the control-conscious Kotelnik doesn't fare well against volume punchers.
Although he defeated Marcos Maidana, many observers thought Maidana deserved the nod because of his overwhelming volume (1,241 to 655), his 259-140 gulf in power connects and his 342-229 edge in overall connects. While geography helped Kotelnik (the fight was held in the Ukrainian's adopted home of Germany), his accuracy also played a role. He was consistent across the board as he landed 35 percent overall (229 of 655), 34 percent of his jabs (89 of 262) and 36 percent of his power shots (140 of 393).
Kotelnik's loss to Khan was inarguable as Khan used a 77.8 punch-per-round attack to pile up 208-140 (overall) and 96-28 (jab connects) advantages while staying even with 112 power connects on 80 more attempts (423-343).
Khan's busyness and physical advantages limited Kotelnik's offensive success (23.8 percent overall, 17 percent jabs and 26.5 percent power shots).
If Kotelnik can't match Alexander's output, he'll need marksmanship to overcome not only Alexander's volume but also the champ's home field advantage. That may be problematic due to Alexander's southpaw stance.
Prediction: This will be another step up for Alexander because Kotelnik is a sharp and experienced boxer as opposed to Urango's one-dimensional aggression. The home crowd will help Alexander's spirits but his speed and overall game will play a bigger role in what will be a unanimous decision victory.
TAVORIS CLOUD vs. GLEN JOHNSON
This should be an entertaining, long-lasting punchfest. Consider:
- In beating Clinton Woods, Cloud averaged 95.6 punches per round (throwing a Compubox light heavyweight record 1147 punches)- the weight class avg. is 54 thrown per round. He landed 410 total punches and landed 47 percent of his power shots (272 of 577). Woods didn't have the gas to keep up, though he tried hard (62.5 punches per round).
- At 41, Johnson is a marvel. In his last outing against Yusaf Mack he averaged 75.2 punches per round in compiling edges of 107-65 (overall) and 63-11 (connected jabs). The pattern held in his rematch with Daniel Judah as he fired 80.8 punches per round to Judah's 66.7 and racked up 311-140 (total), 62-24 (connected jabs) and 249-116 (power connect) gulfs.
Unfortunately for Johnson, his two Chad Dawson fights fall into Cloud's strengths. Dawson averaged 79 and 63 punches per round respectively, which outdid Johnson's outputs of 69.1 and 58.7. Johnson was there to be hit with power shots as Dawson landed 42.2 percent in fight one (205 of 486) and 56.3 percent in the rematch (142 of 252).
The good news for Johnson is that Cloud can be hit, too. Julio Gonzalez (who averaged 98.9 punches per round) landed 30 percent of his 505 power shots and Woods landed 32 percent of his (127 of 391). Also, this is only Cloud's third fight since March 2008 while this is Johnson's sixth fight in that span.
Prediction: A primed Johnson is capable of beating a ring-rusty Cloud. However, 28 trumps 41 and Cloud will win by decision.