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Alexander vs. Brook: Alexander’s experience or Brook’s strength?

Devon Alexander Kell BrookBy Craig Hilton: There has been a great deal of intrigue and speculation concerning the massive world title fight between IBF world title holder, Devon Alexander (25-1), and UK superstar Kell Brook (29-0) on 18/05/2013 at The Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey. Does Devon Alexander have too much experience? Does Brook have too much power?

The stakes are high: a win for Alexander would put the wheels in motion for the big-money fight he craves with Floyd Mayweather Junior (43-0); a win for Brook would establish him in the USA, creating lucrative opportunities for his career. I’d like to highlight some of the key factors that may determine the outcome of this huge and career-defining fight.

Firstly, it is obvious to fight fans that Kell Brook has not fought the same level of competition as Devon Alexander. Kell’s most recent wins have come against plodding B level welterweight contenders such as Carson Jones (34-9-3), Matthew Hatton (43-6-2), Lovemore N’Dou (48-13-2) and Hector Saldivia (41-3). By comparison, Devon Alexander’s freshest victories have come against world class operators such as Lucas Matthysse (33-2), Andreas Kotelnik (31-4-1), Juan Urango (22-3-1), Marcos Maidana (33-3) and Randall Bailey (43-8) – I’m sure you’ll agree this is a more impressive list. Therefore, Alexander has become accustomed to world level opposition; he has been asked numerous questions by a more varied and troublesome level of competition. In view of this, Devon Alexander is a vastly more experienced operator than Brook; this factor alone could retain him his IBF title and leave Brook searching for more experience in a second world title endeavour.

The second huge factor in this fight is Devon Alexander’s style; he is a tricky, clinching southpaw with flying hands. Alexander is a markedly different fighter than the opposition Brook has been used to competing against in his career thus far. Brook has been able to use his superior hand speed, commanding jab and thudding hooks to dominate his relatively slow opposition. World class operators such as Devon Alexander have a bigger repertoire of skills than the calibre of fighters on Brook’s resume to date. Alexander will interrogate Brook’s skills during this fight like no other in his career; I expect Alexander to disrupt Kell’s rhythm in the first half of the bout – stealing one or two rounds with his trickery – in an attempt to drag Brook into the later rounds when he may not be as strong or alert. In my opinion, Devon does have the sharper footwork of the two combatants; this advantage needs to be used effectively to reduce the opportunity for Brook to set his feet and release one of his notoriously hefty combinations.

Brook has a robust style, fronted by a swift and forceful jab. However, Brook’s stiff jab may not prove such a dominant tool against Alexander’s southpaw style. Brook will be forced to use a more varied arsenal when probed by Alexander during the fight. Fight fans should note that Brook has been sparring with experienced southpaw, DeMarcus Corley (39-20-1), great preparation for a world title fight. However, sparring is not fighting and this twelve round venture against Devon Alexander will be the litmus test in determining whether Kell Brook really is world class. I don’t think he’ll be fazed by the atmosphere as Brook is notoriously a fast starter but has he got over those stamina problems that hindered his effectiveness in the latter rounds against Hatton, Jones and Lovemore N’Dou?

Personally, I think Kell has to impose his will on Alexander in the same way that fellow Brit, Carl Froch (30-2), dominated Lucian Bute (31-1) in their IBF world title fight last year. Being the stronger man, Brook has to put Devon under a tornado of pressure early, restricting Alexander’s movements into the corners of the ring whilst launching colossal hooks and uppercuts. A barrage of shots early in the fight would surely smash Alexander’s heart. If this plan does not work, Brook has to be prepared to maintain a high intensity for the full twelve rounds – I can’t see Alexander winning by a knock out so Kell has to have a Plan B.

As a UK fight fan, I hope Brook’s power compensates for his shortage of experience at world level. No doubt there will be choppy waters for Brook to contend with during this fight. I hope that Brook has developed his boxing guile to prove triumphant for the UK on this springboard to stardom.

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