Colombian Iron-Man Juan Urango, the IBF junior-welterweight champion meets unbeaten American Devon Alexander, the WBC title holder at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut in an intriguing clash of styles.
Amir Khan and Freddie Roach will be particularly interested in this weekends proceedings. Roach would probably prefer his fighter to vacate the WBA crown and fight the winner of Urango v Alexander, rather than be coerced into a fight with the WBA´s official no.1 contender, the murderous punching Argentinian Marcos Maidana.
Both Urango and Alexander are well know to UK fight fans. Southpaw Alexander (19-0, 12 ko´s), just 23 years old, won the vacant WBC title last year when Britain´s former WBC champion Junior Witter retired after eight rounds with an elbow injury.
Ricky Hatton outpointed Juan Urango in 2007 for his second spell as IBF light-welterweight champion.
Despite a huge disadvantage in experience, Alexander put on a masterful performance against Witter, losing only one round on two judges scorecards. Witter fought bizarrely, switch hitting constantly, while Alexander stuck resolutely to his game plan. He staggered Witter in the first, second and fifth rounds, and kept his southpaw right jab in Witters face throughout. Alexander´s right hook proved a threat to Witter all night long. It was a superb win for the then 22 year old from Saint Louis, Missouri.
An outstanding amateur who complied a 300-10 record, Alexander turned pro at just seventeen, sticking with trainer Kevin Cunningham who had been with him since the age of seven. He made steady progress on a diet of good if not outstanding opposition. In January 2008, Alexander took a big step up in class when he boxed former WBO light-welterweight champion DeMarcus Corley at Madison Square Garden. Alexander didn’t let the venue or the opponent get to him – emerging with a unanimous decision. Four bouts later and he was fighting Witter for the vacant WBC title.
Undoubtedly, a strong contributing factor in Alexander´s outstanding progress at such a young age must be put down to the influence of his friend and mentor, two-time welterweight and current IBF light-middleweight champion and fellow St Louis native Corey Spinks. The pair have been friends for years, and have sparred together countless times, priceless experience for young Alexander.
But good as Alexander was against Junior Witter, he will have to step it up another notch against two time IBF champ Juan Urango.
29 year old Urango (22-2-1, 17 ko´s), born in Monteria, Colombia but based in Cooper City, Florida turned pro in 2002. That year, he scored eight victories, all on home soil, before moving to Spain. In 2003, he won three bouts in Spain, before moving once more, this time to the US. Since then Urango has boxed exclusively in North America.
He first won the IBF title when he outpointed Tunisian Naoufel Ben Rabah in 2006. He lost it the following year to Britain’s Ricky Hatton, himself a former champion. At the time, Hatton was 27 years old and undefeated, possibly at the peak of his powers. Although he looked much smaller than Urango, Hatton boxed well, consistently beating the Colombian to the punch. Urango never looked in trouble, but never hurt Hatton either. Urango won only one round on all three judges cards.
Unfazed by the loss, Urango bounced back with three straight knockouts and in January of last year outpointed Montreal based Cameroonian Herman Ngoudjo in Canada to regain the IBF title. Four months later, Urango challenged WBC welterweight champion Andre Berto, and came up short for the second time in his career, losing the decision. Last August he dropped back down to light-welter, and defended his crown with an eleventh round knockout over hard-hitting former WBO light-welter champ Randall Bailey.
Although not as slick a boxer as Alexander, the Colombian brings other qualities to the table. His upper body is enormous, more like that of a middleweight, and he is correspondingly strong. He possesses a bomb proof chin, and even in bouts with proven punchers like Hatton, Berto and Bailey, he has never been hurt. Relatively slow for a junior-welter, he does posses one punch knockout power if given the opportunity. In many ways, Urango is like a mini version of heavyweight contender David Tua. And like Tua, he is vulnerable to speed and movement, two things that Devon Alexander has.
But has this fight come just a little too soon for Alexander? It´s only his second championship fight, and yet its a unification match-up. Or will Alexander´s speed and boxing talent prove too much for the limited Urango?
Despite the bookies favoring Alexander, this is a tough fight to call.
Urango is due a big win, but he could find himself chasing thin air against the elusive Alexander. Nevertheless, I am going to put my neck on the line and go for the rugged Colombian to pull off an upset ; Urango by a TK´O in eight.
Big Fight odds; Alexander 2/9, Urango 3/1 bet365