It was one of those designed things that wasn’t supposed to happen. Not like this. Not on national TV to a 50-to-1 underdog who hadn’t won a fight in two years. But that’s exactly what did happen to Devon Alexander Wednesday night at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, on ESPN’s Premier Boxing Champions card.
Journeyman welterweight Aron Martinez, who last won a fight in April 2013 against an 8-8-1 fighter, found a magic elixir in the second half of a scheduled 10-rounder to upset Alexander, the former IBF/WBC junior welterweight and IBF welterweight champion, in a convincing unanimous decision from judges Dennis O’Connell and Gonzalo Valenzuela, who both had it 97-93 for Martinez (20-4-1, 4 KOs) and Chris Wilson 96-94.
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Punch stats reveal a close fight. Martinez connected on 151 of 612 total punches (27-percent), to Alexander’s 160 of 543 (29-percent). It was more a matter of the more physical Martinez imposing his will on Alexander during the course of the last five rounds that spelled the difference.
Alexander (26-4, 14 KOs) entered the fight a loser in two of his previous three bouts. He was looking to keep himself relevant after a woeful performance against Amir Khan in December. Still only 28, the southpaw may have to reconsider his boxing future after the Martinez setback.
“He was coming in fast like we knew he would,” Alexander said afterward. “We knew he was going to come forward. I just couldn't get my shots off like I wanted to. Consecutive losses are tough, but I'm not easily discouraged. I just need to regroup, and then we’ll see what’s next.”
Alexander’s plan was to box, while Martinez used no gimmicks or angles. He came straight at Alexander, head down, trying to hit anything he could. It was a scheme that was wearing Alexander down—and his trainer, Kevin Cunningham, knew it.
“He’s not doing what he’s supposed to be doing,” Cunningham told ESPN from the corner during the eighth round.
For Martinez, this might be the career boost he was looking for, after arguably upsetting Robert Guerrero in June.
“I’m the heavier guy,” Martinez said. “I’ve always fought at 147 pounds. This is my natural weight, and I sparred against much bigger guys during the last few weeks of training camp. I was facing fast, 180-pound fighters in camp to get ready for this. Fighting on a PBC card on ESPN is the best kind of opportunity for me. I’ll use this fight to get another great chance like I got tonight. I'll fight whoever they put in front of me.”
On the undercard, IBF featherweight champion Lee Selby (22-1, 8 KOs) used his size and reach to retain the title with a unanimous victory over Fernando Montiel (54-5-2, 39 KOs). Fighting in the United States for the first time, Selby, 28, from Barry, Wales, England, landed 236 of 809 punches (29 percent), according to CompuBox punch statistics, to Montiel’s 141 of 539 punches (26 percent).
There was no doubt on the judge’s scorecards. Jonathan Davis saw it 116-112 for Selby, while Chris Flores had it 118-110 and Robert Hoyle (119-109) for the lanky Brit.
Montiel had a burst in the middle rounds, opening a cut over Selby’s right eye in the sixth round with a left hook. But the 5-8½ Selby quickly staunched that momentum imposing his four-inch height advantage and keeping Montiel away with his right.
“All the cuts I've had in my career have come against shorter fighters like (Montiel),” Selby said. “When I got cut tonight in the sixth round, it was the same thing. I caught a head butt.”
Joseph Santoliquito is the president of the Boxing Writer's Association of America and a frequent contributor to Sherdog.com's mixed martial arts and boxing coverage. His archive can be found here.
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