PAVLIK PULLS IT OFF
No one picked him to beat Edison Miranda. Few picked him to beat Jermain Taylor. Many questioned his hand speed and quality of opposition, including the greatest trainer of our time. But in the end, it was good old-fashioned punching that led to Kelly Pavlik becoming the new Ring Magazine/WBC/WBO middleweight champion on Saturday night.
With a hard right hand and several vicious uppercuts and left hooks to the head, Pavlik deconstructed the Taylor myth and left him in a crumpled heap in a corner with referee Steve Smoger refusing to let the beating continue. This despite Taylor being the quicker man, this despite Taylor being the more accurate man, this despite Taylor being the more celebrated man.
It all means nothing now, though I wonder if anyone will care to investigate all three judges' reasons for having Pavlik behind by 3-5 points at the time of the stoppage. WIth scoring like that, it's no wonder Winky Wright thought he got robbed. But Pavlik had enough sense not to let the judges figure into the equation. He took care of business like the old-time fighters did.
Taylor, meanwhile, boxed a good fight. He landed the harder punches early and put Pavlik down in the second round. The difference, though, is that after he was down Pavlik continued to fight while Taylor probably would have remained on the canvas. We will never know for sure because Smoger, who has a reputation of letting fights go on, stepped in.
So what's next for Pavlik and Taylor? There is a rematch clause for a fight at 166 pounds which would not involve the middleweight titles. I see Taylor wanting the fight, and I don't see Pavlik backing down from it. Taylor could also move up to 168 and challenge either Alejandro Berrio for the IBF belt or the loser of Calzaghe/Kessler, or possibly even Jeff Lacy, who's been needing a big fight since his destruction at the hands of Calzaghe. Pavlik could likewise choose to move up, though I see him ruling the middleweight division if he chooses for a long time, with only Felix Sturm and Arthur Abraham being immediate threats. His body can support 8 pounds and he hits hard enough to knock out super middleweights. We'll just have to see. At least we don't have to worry about Pavlik ducking opponents. The man is a fighter and will fight anyone. After beating Miranda and Taylor in the fashion he did, he should be a lock for the 2007 Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year.
One final salute to the man who showed that boxing is not dead yet (and his name isn't Floyd Mayweather).
UPCOMING BIG FIGHTS
Pavlik/Taylor was just the beginning of a great boxing lineup for the next three months. Here are some others, with my predictions.
Manny Pacquiao v. Marco Antonio Barrera- Two of the greatest PFP fighters in the sport today will clash for the second time. Pacquiao is rolling after his destructions of Erik Morales. Look for much the same result as last time these two met, though neither's HOF credentials will be helped or hurt no matter who wins.
Juan Diaz vs. Julio Diaz- Three lightweight belts on the line in one fight. That's what I'm talking about. This is a pick-em fight and a chance for one of these men to become a household name.
Evander Holyfield vs. Sultan Ibragimov- Yes, it's in Russia, yes Holyfield is 44 years old, no it won't matter. I'm going on faith for this one, and saying that Holyfield will become the oldest champ in boxing history.
Joe Calzaghe vs. Mikkel Kessler- Another 3-belt fight, this is one of the fights I had written about some time ago and said needed to happen (along with Pavlik/Taylor and Mayweather/Hatton). Calzaghe will be in with perhaps his toughest opponent and near the end of his career. After Kessler's three-round demolition of Markus Beyer, I'm going with the Great Dane.
Miguel Cotto vs. Shane Mosley- If the doping allegations are true, I'm automatically switching my pick to Cotto. I feel the same about steroids in boxing as I do in baseball. Otherwise, I see Mosley outboxing Cotto and winning if it goes to the scorecards.
Fernando Vargas vs. Ricardo Mayorga- An early version of Roy Jones/Felix Trinidad where Mayorga will be the much smaller man in against a vicious puncher in Vargas. I don't see this lasting past six, with Mayorga possibly being beaten into retirement.
Floyd Mayweather vs. Ricky Hatton- I've already written it that Floyd will lose this one. Hatton will be a welterweight version of Pavlik and will batter the Pretty Boy into submission long before the final bell.
Please feel free to debate any of these or add others you feel I might have missed. Until next time.