Taylor Falls Short In Bid to Dethrone Pavlik
Its difficult to imagine the pressure Jermain Taylor felt in his locker room this past Saturday. Despite a celebrated rise to the middleweight crown, hes been ridiculed and justly criticized for his performances after the first Hopkins fight. Some in the media had gone as far to change his nickname from Bad Intentions to Bad Decisions Taylor, in light of the dubious outings against Winky Wright and Cory Spinks. Taylor exorcised some of these demons, giving a spirited performance in a losing effort against Kelly Pavlik.
While not as dramatic as their first encounter, Pavlik and Taylor delivered enough consistent action to give fans their moneys worth. As predicted, the early pattern was Pavlik attempting to walk Taylor down behind a long-reaching stiff jab, followed by a ramrod right hand. Taylor sought to capitalize on opportunities to counterpunch off Pavliks aggression, resigned early on that the chances of out boxing his larger foe were slim. In round two, Taylor impressively utilized his superior speed to land sharp jabs and flurries to the body. While Taylors punches did not have the same authority behind them as Pavliks, Jermain succeeded in keeping his stronger foe off balance.
By the middle rounds Pavlik began to adjust to Taylors speed. After being outworked for most of round 4, Pavlik landed a succession of solid right hands to close out the round and steal it. With Pavliks work rate becoming a clear advantage, Taylor was reduced to fighting in spurts to retain his stamina. Throughout rounds 5-7, Taylors moments would come in 30 second flurries, while Pavlik would carry the rest of the round due to consistently throwing punches.
After again being outworked in rounds 8 and 9, Taylor bounced back in the 10th stanza, landing a beautiful right counter over Pavliks jab. Taylor pressed the action with a few more left hooks to clinch the round. Not to be deterred, Pavlik came back in the 11th to hurt Taylor badly with a sneaky right to the body. Taylor hung tough and clinched to make it through the round, clearly fatigued and desperate going into the 12th.
In the final round both guys started fast, but quickly tired out by the half way mark. With neither fighter showing a clear advantage, Pavlik again distinguished himself down the stretch, using his jab and crosses to outwork Taylor. Final scorecards read 117-111, 115-113, and 116-112 all for Pavlik by unanimous decision.
I enjoyed this fight, as it reminded me of the hard, workmanlike fights we used to see in the 70s from guys like Carlos Monzon. Both men have interesting futures. Pavlik will stay at 160 pounds for a June 7th date at Madison Square Garden. The short list of opponents is Felix Trinidad and John Duddy. While Duddy would be a better challenge, Im inclined to believe Pavlik will go for the money and notoriety that would come from brutally KOing the aging but still wildly popular Trinidad. I see Trinidad (if he can make 160) having a horrible outing dealing with Pavliks jab and being forced to fight going backwards.
Taylor has stated he would like to stay at 168, and has already been called out by IBF champ Lucian Bute. That would be an exciting, explosive fight, but one Taylors handlers would be wary of making immediately. Other intriguing matchups include Allan Green, Jeff Lacy, and Mikkel Kessler.
Whomever they face, expect Kelly Pavlik and Jermain Taylor to give us some memorable matchups in the next two years.
Klitschko-Ibragimov Unify WBO and IBF Crowns This Weekend
This Saturday Wladimir Klitschko seeks to bring some order to heavyweight division, as he squares off in a WBO/IBF unification match with speedy southpaw Sultan Ibragimov. Both men are seasoned pros, but the obvious favorite here is Klitschko. Since the debacle against Lamon Brewster in 2004, trainer Emmanuel Steward has slowly crafted Wladimir into a calm, calculating assassin. Klitschko now paces himself well, and keeps his opponents on the outside where their chances are considerably reduced, as Wladimir rarely compromises his height (take note, Paul Williams). However, Sultan Ibragimov does utilize very good lateral movement, and has very quick hands on the inside. His only chance will be trying to get inside to land short compact hooks to the body and head to wear out Klitschko.
I expect Klitschko to initially struggle timing Ibragimov, due to his southpaw stance and movement. But by the middle rounds Klitschko will start to find range with the right hand, leading to a TKO by round 8.
Valuev Bludgeons Liakhovich
When did the talented Sergey Liakhovich become a listless punching bag? Last week Nikolai Valuev dominated with scores of 120-108, 120-108, and 120-107. Liakhovich came in at career high weight of 251, and the effects are seen clearly in the above clip (the music makes it more disturbing). And to think, less than two years ago Liakhovich engaged in one the great heavyweight fights in recent memory against Lamon Brewster.
Mayweather On Tap for Wrestlemania?!
In an amusing turn of events, welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather made a surprise appearance last night at WWE PPV No Way Out. Mayweather confronted the 7 foot tall, 400 pound wrestler the Big Show. After being goaded and shoved, Mayweather landed a 3 punch combo, legitimately breaking Shows nose before hightailing it out of the venue. See the spectacle here (Leonard Ellerbe gets trampled trying to run off with Floyd).
Nothing surprises me much anymore, but I didnt see this one coming. I must say Floyd definitely has the facial expressions down. Rumors are now going around that Oscar De La Hoya may be joining the WWE hype train sometime in the next few weeks. This probably only works if Floyd is a heel (bad guy). Put him with MVP, perhaps? While were at it, lets have Bob Arum send Cotto to Ring of Honor.
Minor Talks Ongoing for Cotto-Mayorga Bout
Loudmouth slugger Ricardo Mayorga told reporters from the El Nuevo Dia that a July bout with Miguel Cotto is a done deal. www.boxingscene.com was able to reach Cotto promoter Bob Arum for these comments:
"Mayorga is a definite possibility and he is on Miguel Cottos dance card. You have to remember that Miguel will probably fight four times this year. There was some talk. Mayorga is an interesting fight for Miguel, but not for July Mayorga is a candidate (for July) if the winner of Margarito and Cintron is injured. If that were to happen, then Mayorga is a possibility for the July spot."
I cant say I have much objection to this bout since Mayweather is booked for the rest of 2008. Any time I get a chance to see Mayorga get beaten up is welcome. Still, its very hard for me to imagine Mayorga being able to make it back to 147 pounds. While Mayorga would land a hard right or two, Cotto is too skilled and disciplined to have much trouble beyond that. TKO 9 Cotto in a brutal affair that approaches Mayweather-Gatti, Calzaghe-Lacy treatment in the latter rounds.
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