Devon Alexander vs. Jesus Soto Karass: Preview, Prediction for Welterweight Bout

Briggs SeekinsFeatured ColumnistJune 17, 2014

Devon Alexander vs. Jesus Soto Karass: Preview, Prediction for Welterweight Bout

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    Jason DeCrow/Associated Press

    On Saturday in Carson, California, former two-division world champion Devon Alexander will return to action against tough veteran Jesus Soto Karass. These are two of the better fighters in the ultra-competitive welterweight division, and they are both coming off losses.

    The winner should be well-positioned for a decent, high-profile fight in the second half of the year. The loser will take a definite step back.

    Both of these men are at the point where every fight they have is potentially career defining, whether for good or bad.

Tale of the Tape

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    Alex Trautwig/Getty Images
    Per BoxRec     Devon Alexander     Jesus Soto Karass
    Record:     25-2, 14 KOs     28-9-3, 18 KOs
    Height:     5'8"     5'9.5"
    Reach:     72"     72"
    Weight:     147 lbs     147 lbs
    Age:     27     31
    Stance:     Southpaw     Orthodox
    Hometown:     St. Louis, Missouri     North Hollywood, California
    Rounds:     179     292

    Soto Karass has a journeyman's record, but he's been in the ring with top talent and hasn't always gotten favorable treatment from the judges. He's definitely not top 10 at welterweight, but it would be fair to group him in the top 20.

    Alexander is a smart boxer who knows how to exploit his southpaw stance. At just 27, he's already been in major fights.

    Soto Karass calls North Hollywood home now, but he's a native of boxing-rich Sinaloa, Mexico.

Main Storylines

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    This is the sort of stylistic clash that makes for a very interesting and potentially exciting fight. Alexander is a classic boxer who can take a decent punch. Soto Karass is a high-volume brawler with good ring savvy and some boxing skills.

    Alexander was an amateur standout from a young age who won 300 bouts as a teenager and came within a whisker of making the 2004 Olympic team when he was just 17. As a professional, he's won world titles at 140 and 147 pounds.

    In Alexander's native St. Louis, he's the kind of star who gets invited to throw out the first pitch at Cardinals games. His popularity with boxing fans nationally has lagged behind that somewhat.

    Alexander lost his IBF welterweight belt to Shawn Porter last December in an excellent fight. His other loss came against Timothy Bradley in 2011, although he got a gift decision against Lucas Matthysse later that same year.

    But he also handed Marcos Maidana a boxing lesson in 2012. When Alexander is fully on, he's among the top welterweights in the world.

    Soto Karass is perhaps the most formidable gatekeeper in the division. He had big wins over Selcuk Aydin and Andre Berto in 2013 before losing by Round 9 TKO to Keith Thurman in December. If he can rebound to beat Alexander, he'll have to be viewed as a contender.

Strengths

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Devon Alexander is a very skilled technician. He has excellent movement and uses it to exploit his southpaw stance. His defense is stellar, and his chin is durable.

    While he's not a knockout artist, Alexander's power is respectable. He's a quick, athletic fighter who has trained in the art of boxing since he was a small child.

    Jesus Soto Karass is a rugged pressure fighter who throws a high volume of punches from every possible angle. While it's easy to think of him as a brawling journeyman fighter, he's focused hard on improving his game in recent years, and it shows. Soto Karass has boxing skill.

    He's an extremely experienced professional with very good ring intelligence. He knows how to stay within himself and follow a plan while under fire.

Weaknesses

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    Devon Alexander is a boxing technician and perhaps leans a bit too heavily on pure technique. He's encountered difficulty against rugged boxers who can pressure him in close range.

    He's definitely more comfortable in a boxing match than a brawl. He's had trouble against opponents who could make things ugly and desperate.

    Jesus Soto Karass throws a ton of punches, but his connect rate is not generally very high. That leaves a lot of space for a skilled boxer to pick him apart with counters.

    Soto Karass is a very hittable fighter.

Devon Alexander Will Win If...

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Alexander wants to use his boxing skills to exploit his southpaw stance and keep Soto Karass at vulnerable angles. Alexander should be able to outmaneuver Soto Karass consistently with his lead right foot, keeping it to the outside of Soto Karass' lead left.

    That will give him the angle to land his straight left and lead hook, and it will deny Soto Karass any decent angle of attack. Foot positioning is a very basic battle any time a southpaw and orthodox fighter square off. But it's an essential battle, and as the fighter with better footwork, Alexander should be able to win it.

    Alexander has to be braced for a war, and he's got to be ready for a lot of punches coming at him from a lot of angles. Soto Karass will try to lean on him in close all night while flinging away.

    Alexander will need to rely on his boxing, but he had better be prepared to dig in and fight.

Jesus Soto Karass Will Win If...

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    Darren Abate/Associated Press

    To win this fight, Soto Karass is going to need to throw a lot of punches, make the fight ugly and rough Alexander up. But he's going to have to use some boxing skill, too.

    He's going to need to use smart tactical movement and be the better ring general. He can't just swarm forward, or he will be eating punches and turning to reset himself all fight long.

    Soto Karass needs to contest Alexander for lead foot placement and control of range. If Alexander manages to get the lead foot to his outside, Soto Karass needs to crowd him and take away his space to land straight punches or else retreat back out of range.

    Soto Karass needs to pressure Alexander and prevent him from establishing his rhythm. He will win this fight by making it a brawl. But he's not going to be able to force a brawl without using a little bit of smart boxing.

Prediction

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    USA TODAY Sports

    I am a big believer in skill, and that's ultimately why I think Devon Alexander will win this fight. I just don't think Jesus Soto Karass is athletic enough and technically skilled enough to impose the kind of fight he needs to win.

    I think Alexander will largely be able to control distance and play matador to Soto Karass' bull, the same way he did against Marcos Maidana in 2012 (a fighter who has since stopped Soto Karass). Alexander fought Shawn Porter tough, even if he clearly lost, and Soto Karass is not the athlete or the boxer that Porter is.

    I see this being a hard-fought but cleanly won decision for Alexander by a score of about 97-93. Alexander may or may not prove to be among the very elite at welterweight, but he should continue to be part of the conversation.

    A fight against Amir Khan or Kell Brook would make a lot of sense for Alexander—so would a showdown with Danny Garcia, when the junior welterweight champ moves up. One or two more wins after Saturday should position Alexander for another title fight.