By Brian Grammer
Photos: Bob Barton
With Don King proclaiming that on this card, “every fight was a main event”, his Gateway to Greatness card Saturday night was a classic example of the younger, hungrier lions taking over the pride. 23 year old Devon Alexander (21-0, 13 KOs), 28 year old Tavoris Cloud (21-0, 18KOs) and 28 year old Ryan Coyne (15-0, 5KOs) all beat their respective, older lions last night to win or retain their championship belts. Even 37 year old Cornelius ‘K9’ Bundrage (30-4-2, 18KOs) seemed like a young lion in dispatching his foe, Cory Spinks (37-6, 11KOs) with a 5th round knockout.
Defending IBF and WBC 140lb world champion, Devon Alexander said that “it was a spectacular night.” but he graded his performance as “only a C-.” He and trainer Kevin Cunningham will be “going back to the drawing board to learn from tonight and find what went wrong.” The young champion concluded his remarks with “each and every fight we are going to get better and better.” Cunningham then took the stage to breakdown his fighter’s actions in the ring. “We knew that Kotelnik could fight, but the mark of true champion is one that bites down and finds a way to win even when things are not working like they do when he is at his best. He found a way to win tonight.” Cunningham continued by saying, “It was a great fight. I think that Devon has even more fans after tonight because TV and fans love to see action and it was an action packed fight. A fan friendly kind of fight.”
Main event challenger Andriy Kotlelnik (31-4-1, 13KOs) started by saying that this “was one of his greatest fights of my career and I am thankful for my team training me for the last 11 weeks. Although I did not get the win, I know that all of you know in your hearts that I did enough to do so.” “This is the dream of every boxer”, he continued, “After I won my silver medal in 2000, my goal was to become a professional. My next goal was to become a world champion and after 9 years of boxing with my German club, I became a world champion three times.” The challenger concluded his remarks by saying, “I will never forget this night, this evening and St. Louis will always be in my heart.” Kotelnik’s trainer Stacey McKinley, addressed the crowd next and said that he told those in attendance at Wednesday’s press conference that his kid was coming to fight. “It was a helluva fight. It could have gone either way.” Kotelnik, McKinley noted, “gives us what we want out of a fight. He was very aggressive.” McKinley finished with, “He (Kotelnik) will be back. Don’t worry.”
The victorious IBF light heavyweight champion, Cloud, said that Saturday’s challenger, 41 year old Glen Johnson (50-14-2, 34KOs), was “a good fighter. I can’t take anything away from him. But, he was hurt several times tonight like he was never hurt before.” When asked by Fightnews about Johnson’s punching power and if it had affected him, Cloud replied, “he is not a hard puncher. He is consistent. But, I wasn’t bothered by the power. I was pacing myself and waiting to catch him a little bit, but I found myself sometimes waiting a little bit too long, but, I still got the job done.” The new, young lion continued, “How many times have you seen Glen Johnson rocked like that? Hopkins, maybe, back in the day did that. I am the new Hopkins!” The champion finished by saying that he “was going to go on to do bigger and better things. I can defeat any light heavyweight in the world.”
Brundrage, the new IBF junior middleweight champion, who along with Ryan Coyne appeared on the TV reality show, “The Contender”, said that he was “humbled to be the newest world champion on this night.” His 5th round knockout performance Saturday was due to his travelling “a long, long way to get here.” The new champion then showed his respect for the former champion and his hometown. “I’ve got nothing but love for Cory Spinks and St. Louis. Y’all treated me real good while I was here. It is like a dream come true!”, Brundrage exclaimed. The former “Contender” continued, “I watched HBO growing up and Mike Tyson, and I said that I am going to do that.” Bundrage concluded by acknowledging his long and hungry life to the top. “I came here the hard way. I never graduated, didn’t have a daddy around, nobody has given me nothing and it is a hard road. If you knew where I came from, the streets, you all would love me even more.”
Coyne, a native St. Louisian like fellow champion, Alexander, won the WBC USNBC Cruiserweight title from a very tough Warren Browning (12-1-1, 8KOs). “We have a great, great fight tradition here in St. Louis and we showed it again tonight.”, Coyne remarked. The new champion continued, “I had a very tough opponent tonight in Warren Browning, who is a career heavyweight.” And in addressing how he handled his bigger opponent, “I think that I showed that I am the bigger puncher. I put him on the ground by going to the body and then taking him out.” Coyne concluded, “I watched Devon pick up these regional titles on the way to a world championship and I going to do the same thing. I am very proud to be sitting up here with these great world champions and one day soon I will be a world champion myself.”