BY GEORGE WILLIS (NY Times)
At a time boxing needed something to lift its spirits, it got nothing but disappointment in Palm Springs Saturday night where two championship fights ended in unsatisfying controversies.
Devon Alexander captured the WBC super lightweight championship when Junior Witter of England failed to answer the bell for the ninth round. Witter quit on his stool despite trailing but just a couple of points on the scorecards. He later said he injured his elbow in the fourth round and it got progressively worse as the fight went on.
“I wasn’t able to box the way I wanted to,” Witter (37-3, 22 KOs) said. “We just decided it was time to let this one go. It’s not that I wanted to quit. I wanted to win. I still had a chance to win the fight. I just wasn’t able to.”
Alexander, 22, didn’t argue. The St. Louis native captured his first world title. “I trained hard every day, and I stayed dedicated,” Alexander (19-0, 12 KOs) said. “Now I have the green belt. God is good.”
In the main event, Timothy Bradley retained the WBO junior welterweight title when his fight with Nate Campbell was stopped after three rounds because of a cut over Campbell’s left eye.
Bradley, fighting in his hometown, was declared the winner, but Campbell felt the cut was caused by a head butt and the bout should have been ruled a no contest. “I’m not mad at Timmy, but this is wrong,” said Campbell, the former lightweight champion.
Replays clearly showed a clash of heads as the two exchanged punches. Campbell instantly retreated into a corner, pawed his eye and complained about the head butt to referee Dave Mendoza. But Bradley followed in pursuit unleashing a barrage of punches as Campbell covered up on the ropes.
When the round ended and Campbell, 37, went to his corner his eye was covered in blood and he complained he couldn’t see. “I have spots in my eye,” he told a ring side physician, who stopped the bout.
Campbell (33-6-1, 25 KOs) was angry Mendoza didn’t rule the cut was caused by the butt. But Mendoza said the last thing he saw before blood was a punch. “They both were head-butting each other when they were fighting,” Mendoza said. “I had to go by the last thing I saw which was a punch.”
Bradley (25-0, 12 KOs) didn’t apologize. “It didn’t matter he was going to get beat anyway,” Bradley said. “As the rounds went on he was getting older and older.”
Campbell and Bradley had dedicated the bout to the memories of Arturo Gatti and Vernon Forrest, former champions who died in the month of July.