Undefeated 168-pound contender Caleb Plant takes next step towards a world championship with dominant win over "Porky" Medina in title eliminator; while 2016 U.S. Olympian Karlos Balderas keeps his record perfect.
Despite what the judges had to say, Devon Alexander proved Saturday night he's come all the way back.
After a battle with painkiller addiction kept him out of the ring for two years, the former two-division world champion proved his comeback to boxing is for real after he outclassed former champion Victor Ortiz in a crossroads fight on a FOX-televised card from the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas.
The judges however disagreed, stunningly scoring it a majority draw—114-114 twice and 115-113 in favor of Ortiz.
Alexander (27-4-1, 14 knockouts) won a 10-round decision in his comeback fight against Walter Castillo last November, but Ortiz represented the first real dangerous challenge for the former titleholder.
The St. Louis native outboxed Ortiz, and even proved he could take a good punch and answer back with combinations time and time again—enough in his mind to secure his second straight win.
"I absolutely thought I won the fight," Alexander said after the scores were announced. "The last few rounds I probably gave him, but I thought I outlanded him in the 12th. I thought I did enough to win. I gave him three rounds."
Ortiz (32-6-3, 25 KOs) had his moments in the fight, landing a couple of heavy shots that Alexander took well. But Ortiz could never sustain the activity and was outworked in nearly every round.
After a slow first couple of rounds, Alexander picked up his offense and landed eye-catching combinations regularly beginning in the fourth round. Ortiz would often wade in without punching, allowing Alexander to land consistently.
Alexander landed a right uppercut to open the seventh round that stunned Ortiz for a moment — the same punch that he once knocked out Juan Urango with in a 140-pound title fight many years ago.
“ I absolutely thought I won the fight. The last few rounds I probably gave him, but I thought I outlanded him in the 12th. I thought I did enough to win. ” Former two-division World Champion Devon Alexander
Ortiz continues to be the fighter with nine lives. A clear defeat would have been a sign towards him maybe hanging up the gloves, but a disputed draw will likely be enough to convince him to continue fighting on — and he's still a name opponent for the top guys at 147 pounds.
"I started pressuring and countering him more as the fight went on," Ortiz said. "I think I took control of the fight in the second half of the fight."
Alexander is likely a more dangerous opponent for any of the guys at 147 pounds than Ortiz is—and that could mean it's harder for him to find a willing opponent in the immediate future.
"This was my first draw and I hate it," Alexander said. "It's a bad feeling because I thought I won, but we'll go back to the drawing board and get better. I would love a rematch. That's up to my team to see what's next but I'll fight anybody. I'm a real fighter."
Oritz agreed on making a sequel: "A rematch would be awesome. If both teams agree and the fans want it, let's make it happen,” he said.
It was an entertaining fight no doubt, but the point of a crossroads fight is for one fighter to move onto the next rung of the ladder and the other to fall back. Now, neither fighter gets to feel satisfied with the night's results.
Plant defeats Media to take next step towards a 168-pound title
The co-main event of the telecast saw unbeaten Caleb “Sweethands” Plant (17-0, 10 KOs) score a unanimous decision victory over former title challenger Rogelio “Porky” Medina (38-9, 32 KOs) in their IBF super middleweight world title eliminator.
"It was a tough fight tonight against a tough competitor who puts everything on the line,” said Plant. “I’m happy we got the job done tonight.”
Plant established his style early, landing several flush jabs in round one to control the distance. The Nashville-born fighter showed the superior footwork from the outset that would lead him to the victory.
"I stuck to the game plan and I did exactly what I said I was going to do,” said Plant. “I boxed his ears off for 12 rounds.”
"He never had me hurt, but I found his style very difficult,” Medina said. “He moves a lot and he's pretty quick, so that was tough to deal with.”
Plant was able to mix in lead left hooks and straight right hands to continue to damage Medina throughout the action. The consistent jabs caused blood to begin pouring out of the nose of Medina beginning in round three.
While Medina continued to fight hard and occasionally land single clean punches on Plant, he was unable to follow-up with much effective offense and never was able to hurt his opponent.
After 12 rounds of action, the judges scored the fight 120-108, 119-109 and 117-11, all in favor of Plant.
"I want (IBF 168-pound champion) Caleb Truax,” said Plant. “He was calling me out when I was 12-0. I'm on the doorstep knocking now, let's see if he still wants it. He can either ship me the IBF belt to my doorstep, or I'll come take it off his waist."
2016 U.S. Olympian Karlos Balderas again victorious, but goes the distance for the first time
Additional televised action saw 2016 U.S. Olympian Karlos Balderas (4-0, 3 KOs) remain undefeated as he cruised to a unanimous decision over Jorge Rojas (4-3-1, 2 KOs) in their lightweight bout.
The four-round bout was not only the first time Balderas had gone the distance as a pro, but the first time an opponent made it through more than one round against him. Balderas staggered Rojas early in round one with a counter left hook, but Rojas was able to survive the round and the subsequent stanzas.
"I felt good in there,” said Balderas. “I need to learn to relax a little bit more in the ring. I hurt him in the first round and I could have finished him quickly. My corner reminded me to slow down, but I was still throwing everything with power. I'm going to keep working on my composure in the gym. I can't kill everyone in the first round."
For a complete recap of Ortiz vs Alexander, visit our fight page.