We had a wireless connection and seats so close to the ring that it seemed like blood might actually spatter onto the keyboard. Sit down and strap in for a hard-hitting running commentary -- low blows strictly prohibited.
Devon "The Great" Alexander vs. Andriy Kotelnik
All the celebs gather in the ring before the bout. Steven Jackson gets a nice applause (he's one of 22 Rams players in the house) with a few scattered boos from the angry drunks in the crowd. Still a few empty seats (scalpers outside are selling tickets for face value) but it's a solid -- and very vocal -- turnout that should favor Alexander.
Don King grabs two very young, very attractive ring girls on each arm and poses for pictures with a grin the size of a championship belt. He's wearing a black suit instead of the prized jean jacket he bought in 1993 and more gold chains than T-Pain. You can't even see his black tie.
Michael Buffer calls Floyd Mayweather "The best fighter in the world," and half the crowd roars in approval. The other half boo because they know Floyd doesn't have the cojones to fight Manny Pacquiao. Here's hoping Don King takes him and Bob Arum over to the Sauget after the fight, fills them both up with Patron talks them into taking on Pac Man.
Alexander comes in the ring decked out in a hot red velvet robe and a red Cardinals STL hat. Buffer gives him the full lung-draining introduction and the crowd goes nuts. Put in your mouth pieces and jock straps, kids, it's about to be on.Round 1
Alexander has the jab going early but Kotelnik is unfazed. A few good exchanges but nothing spectacular. Kotelnik showed some aggressiveness but that round gets scored 10-9 for Alexander.Round 2
After seeing the light heavyweights (Cloud vs. Johnson) go at it earlier in the night, these guys look lightning fast. Alexander has a little bit of an advantage but Kotelnik has a good stiff right that makes his Borat-looking corner man clap with joy every time he lands it. Round 3
Alexander is going for the counterpunch strategy now, letting Kotelnik throw the jab and then trying to retaliate with a quick flurry. It's working alright but Kotelnik is more accurate with his punches. He's scoring more points and probably won the round because of it.
Kotelnik has a small contingent of flag-toting fans ringside who are chanting for him in Ukrainian. Unfortunately for him, they're getting drowned out by 9,117 rowdy St. Louisans.Round 4
Action-packed round -- Kotelnik picks his spots but Alexander takes it overall with some very strong combinations and more power punches. More exciting, though, was Floyd Mayweather mugging for the cameras with Don King between rounds. Can King work his magic and set up the second Thrilla in Manilla?Round 5
Alexander's right eye is swollen and bleeding. Crowd chanting "Devon! Devon! Devon!" but he's taking a beating right now. Hometown kid had a few good shots but Kotelnik has him on his heels.
Alexander -- a southpaw -- is holding is right hand dangerously low and Kotelnik is capitalizing and landing straight jab after straight jab and opening up Alexander's injured eye. Alexander is finding his back on the ropes too often and Kotelnik seems to be taking control of the fight. Yikes. The crowd senses it and murmurs nervously after the bell rings.Round 7
Kotelnik is relentless and still landing a high percentage of punches, including those dangerous jabs to the eye. Alexander is officially losing, and he wobbled a bit after Kotelnik hit him with a right hook. Round 8
Alexander gets rocked and staggers for a second. Then he comes right back and finally (!) connects with a few power punches. The crowd is back into it. Tough call as to who won that round. Round 9
Blood is pouring out of Alexander's eye now. The ref calls a halt and brings out the doctor to take a look. The doc shines a little flashlight on the flesh wound and says it's ok. Alexander comes out of it charging hard but Kotelnik weathers it. Advantage still to the Ukrainian, unfortunately. Round 10
Kotelnik's trainer giving him the classic advice, "Don't box him, fight him." Alexander's corner seems to have sealed up the cut...at least for now.
And the blood is back. And it's bad. Kotelnik keeps working the jab and Devon keeps leaving his right hand down and leaving the gash exposed. The ref could stop this fight...if he wants to cause a riot. Round ends with a flurry of punches, and Alexander at a severe disadvantage.Round 11
The crowd is on their feet after this one. Alexander showed he still had some fight left in him, backing Kotelnik into the corner at the end of the round, but the Ukrainian still landed more punches. Alexander probably needs a KO if he wants to win but you never know with hometown judges.Round 12
Crowd pulling hard for the hometown kid but Kotelnik silences them and stuns Alexander with a few hard punches, including a sold right cross. Not good. Something miraculous (or underhanded) needs to happen if Alexander is going to win.
They trade punches until the very end. Alexander's blood is all over the ring. What a slugfest. The Great showed a lot of grit hanging in there but it's going to take some home cooking for him to win this one. Prediction: Kotelnik in a split-decision.
Actual outcome: Alexander by unanimous
decision...and the crowd goes wild.
Wow. It's hard not to be happy for Alexander but there's no way he won unanimously. Kotelnik didn't dominate but he definitely landed a higher percentage and more punches. This is the sort of thing that gives boxing a bad name.
Final stats: Alexander threw 1,113 punches and connected on 202. Kotelnik threw 763 and connected on 225. All the judges have Alexander winning eight rounds to Kotelnik's four. One of them actually have Alexander winning the final round, which is comical.
Alexander says his leg cramped up in the twelfth round. Calls it "an ok performance" but he thought he "did enough to win." Also gives props to Kotelnik, going with the preferred "tough as nails" cliche and says "he trained hard, give him credit...we knew he would come in in-shape and he did. He was what we thought he was."
Translation: "Wow, I was lucky not to lose."
Kotelnik's words: "I want the belt and I deserve it. If the fight was anywhere else but here i'd be champion. I'm speechless. I have no words to describe what happens. That guy has something that belongs to me: the belt."Tavoris "Thunder" Cloud vs. Glen "Road Warrior" Johnson
Don King. Floyd Mayweather. Evander Holyfield. Steven Jackson. Max Kellerman. Michael Buffer. Daily RFT. All the celebrities (and this blogger) were on hand Saturday night in downtown St. Louis to see the "Gateway to Greatness" -- the big time boxing match between hometown hero Devon "The Great" Alexander and a some ugly Ukrainian guy.