King reclaims throne with three-pronged St. Louis card
By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor
Ocala, FL (Sports Network) -
Say what you will about Don King.
Some call him a scourge of professional sports. Others contend he's a shyster of gargantuan proportions. And still others think he'd be best placed behind bars.
But not too many would claim he can't put on a show.
The frizzy-haired Clevelander -- who'll turn a ripe old 79 later this month -- provides some more evidence of his prowess Saturday night in St. Louis, where three title fights dot a Scottrade Center card that'll be picked up by HBO's "Boxing After Dark" at 10 p.m. (et).
It's a throwback to decades-old glory days for the rarely silent promoter, a former undisputed champion of multi-layered cards that often placed high-end title-holders alongside blue-chip prospects from a prodigious Don King Productions stable.
And while Holmes, Tyson and Chavez are nowhere to be found, King insists the names Devon Alexander, Tavoris Cloud and Cory Spinks will be more than enough to draw a crowd.
"You give the people what they want and then they say, 'When is the next one?'" Don King said.
"You give the people what they want and then they say, 'When is the next one?'" he said.
"They don't want to worry about going on a pay-per-view show where they -- if the top main man does not show -- then everybody's disappointed and they go away with a sour taste in their mouth because the undercard was non-existent.
"My undercards are cool pictures. You got four championship matches on this card alone. And so this is a thing here that is unheard of with anybody else, but I'm in the promoting of the people."
On the HBO portion, Alexander will defend his IBF/WBC 140-pound titles in the main event against Ukrainian export Andriy Kotelnik, while Cloud risks his IBF light heavyweight belt for the first time against perpetually returning ex- champion Glen Johnson.
Before the broadcast, Spinks meets former "Contender" star Cornelius Bundrage in the second defense of his second IBF reign at 154 pounds. And in King's so- called fourth title fight, unbeaten St. Louis cruiserweight Ryan Coyne faces fellow unbeaten Warren Browning for the vacant WBC USNBC crown.
While the fighters have stayed mostly on script, trainers Kevin Cunningham (Alexander) and Stacey McKinley (Kotelnik) were much more animated in a recent conference call that devolved at times into an exchange of barbs in defense of their charges.
"Kotelnik is a solid fighter," Cunningham said. "Like I said, he's a former world champion. He's an Olympic silver medalist. He has a stellar boxing background. I think he's one of the best junior welterweights in the world. But Devon's going to make him look like a piece of [expletive deleted].
"Devon is going to jump in Kotelnik's [butt] and he's going to be in it from the opening bell. And I can't see Kotelnik standing up to this type of beating for 12 rounds. So if he does make through 12 rounds, more power to him, but he's getting a beating that he's never gotten in his life."
McKinley, who lists Tyson, Sam Peter and Zab Judah among former clients, countered with a claim that the rugged Kotelnik would be applying decisive pressure for the fight's duration.
Kotelnik, who held the WBA's super lightweight title in 2008-09, is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Amir Khan that cost him the championship 13 months ago in England.
"He's coming. He's coming. Ain't no doubt about it," McKinley said. "You ain't got to look for him. (He's) going to be right in your nose hole. You ain't got to look for him. All night. I want him to fight him inside. Stay on top of him. That's what I want him to do."
In the co-feature, the 28-year-old Cloud, who's not fought since beating Clinton Woods for the vacant IBF 175-pound title 12 months ago, meets Johnson, 41, a former IBF/IBO claimant who's making his 11th appearance in a world championship bout.
Both men are Floridians.
Cloud lives in Tallahassee, while Johnson, a native of Jamaica, now lives and trains in Miami.
"I don't think Glen Johnson is the fighter that he used to be," Cloud said, "and I don't think I will have any problems winning the fight."
Johnson lost a unanimous decision in a challenge of IBO champion Chad Dawson in November 2009 and returned for a sixth-round stoppage of Yusaf Mack just three months later at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale.
He is 50-13-2 in a career that began in 1993.
"I don't have to talk a lot of noise," he said. "To me, it's all about stepping in the ring and doing what you do. That's what I've been doing for many years. I'm never somebody who ever disrespects anybody. That's not my style. I go in the ring and do my work. That's what I'm paid for and that's what I'm prepared to do."
TV TOPICS (Not all fights will be televised)
ESPN2 -- Chicago, IL Breidis Prescott (22-2) vs. Harrison Cuello (19-12-3) Patrick Lopez (19-2) vs. Prenice Brewer (15-0-1)
Showtime -- Hinckley, MN Maurice Harris (23-14-2) vs. Nagy Aguilera (16-3) Chris Avalos (16-0) vs. Christopher Martin (18-0-2)
TeleFutura -- El Paso, TX Antonio Escalante (23-2) vs. Edel Ruiz (34-22-4)
FOX Espanol -- Lagos de Moreno, Mexico
Jose Luis Castillo (61-10-1) vs. Daniel Eduardo Yocupicio (4-12-2)
Rogelio Medina (22-0) vs. Eduardo Ayala (17-33-4)
Juan Francisco Estrada (13-0) vs. Carlos Rodriguez (17-6-4)
Manuel Vargas (27-5-1) vs. Michael Arango (30-8-3)
HBO -- St. Louis, MO
Devon Alexander (20-0) vs. Andriy Kotelnik (31-3-1) IBF/WBC 140-pound titles Tavoris Cloud (20-0) vs. Glen Johnson (50-13-2) IBF 175-pound title Cory Spinks (37-5) vs. Cornelius Bundrage (29-4)
Ryan Coyne (14-0) vs. Warren Browning (12-0-1)
Lyle Fitzsimmons is a veteran sports columnist who's written professionally since 1988 and covered boxing since 1995. His work is published in print and posted online for clients in North America and Europe. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at www.twitter.com/fitzbitz.