Bradley doubles up
Two titles for 'Desert Storm' as cut brings unification grind to a halt
By Tim Hobbs. Last Updated: 31/01/11 9:13am
Timothy Bradley became the major belt holder in the light-welterweight division after technical decision over Devon Alexander.
The Californian added the WBC title to his WBO strap after their unification match in Michigan was halted due to a cut, with him ahead on all three cards.
The cut, a wide gash on Alexander's right eyelid, was caused by an accidental clash in the third but was deemed too bad to continue after the pair's heads came together in the 10th. Bradley, who had tried to force the issue from the word go, was handed a 97-93, 96-95, 98-93 win.
If two of the judges' margins were questionable then so was Alexander's stomach for the fight. Even though the second clash was on the opposite side of his face, he made enough of a fuss and put up little protest as the ringside physician told referee Frank Garza the fight had to be called off.
It was a fittingly tame end to a frustrating night in Pontiac which rarely came close to matching the pre-fight hype.
The early cut did not help but the southpaw-orthodox combination made for a messy affair, which will have done little to persuade Amir Khan - watching in the Sky Sports studios - that he cannot clean up completely at 140lbs.
Bradley will be next on his radar, but did little to suggest he has the skills to dismantle the Bolton dazzler. Yes, he was the aggressor all night long, but there was no finesse to his work and no thought in his attacks.
Alexander may have been forced onto the back foot by the cut but he fared better boxing on the retreat - and there are few better than Khan in the game than hitting and moving at speed.
Bradley looked the more composed and compact all night after a promising start in which he negated Alexander's southpaw jab and set the tone, walking his man down, moving him where he wanted but never really unleashing any sustained attacks.
On the few occasions he did, he caught Alexander but it was his head that landed the telling blow in the third as the path of the so-called Perfect Match was altered from thereon in.
Bradley followed up his good fortune with three good rights in the fourth, the cleanest shots thus far, but none were the trademark overhand that had done so much damage in his rise to the top of the light-welterweight rankings and all three were isolated assaults.
Growing into his hit-and-run role, Alexander dropped his hands in the fourth and was quick enough or far enough away to swerve more big shots as Bradley bore down on him, all brawn and for the most part, not too much brain.
He took a decent right in return in the sixth and by the seventh the tide seemed to be turning towards the injured party as Alexander felt safe enough to lead off with the left. Bradley spent most of the session covering up - although it was not exactly the sort of barrage to send a ringside punch-counter into meltdown.
A left hook that landed on the cut helped Bradley regain control at the start of the eighth although another clash of heads forced the ringside doctor to give Alexander more than a cursory glance at the end of the round, Kevin Cunningham and his corner shooed him away, insisting their man should be allowed to fight.
It was though, enough to plant the first seeds of doubt in the St Louis man's mind because in the ninth Bradley finally put together some good work, his opening salvo finishing with yet another right and the round closing with him on top and Alexander looking to steer even clearer than before.
He did produce what turned out to be his parting shot at the start of the fateful 10th as a left-right combination landed on the counter. But as he had done all night, Bradley walked him down again and soon enough they came together for the umpteenth time and Alexander left the clinch wincing in pain and wanting to be somewhere else.
Back to the drawing board - or if he gets his wish, a rematch - is where he is headed while the man who calls himself Desert Storm can look forward to a true unification war with Khan. But on this evidence it will be Bradley handing over his two belts to Bolton's finest.