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Pavlik stops Taylor for Middleweight Title!

Boxing drought ends with Fight of the Year Candidate!

Time has passed since I last posted on this site, but as we all know, the sport has been in a drought ever since August when HBO Boxing After Dark televised the Mexico/Philippines World Cup doubleheader. Last night at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ, undefeated Kelly "The Ghost" Pavlik rose from a second round knockdown to win the Middleweight Championship by pummeling defending champion Jermain "Bad Intentions" Taylor and stopping him in seven grueling rounds.

In the first round, both fighters came out guns blazing. Taylor came over the top with the right hand to start the round. Taylor was throwing combinations, but appeared to be using nervous energy. Pavlik finished the round much stronger by landing a series of straight right hands that forced Taylor to go backwards. The tide would change - albeit momentarily - in the second round when Taylor stunned Pavlik with a barrage of punches and dropped the challenger.

Pavlik showed outstanding heart and desire to rise from the canvas the way he did, because he was seriously hurt. At that moment, I thought the fight might've been over. However, Pavlik managed to survive the onslaught and make it out of the second round. In between rounds, Pavlik recovered beautifully because he was able to resume control immediately in the third round as he went back to being the effective agressor. Beating Taylor up on the ropes, Pavlik was once again in control of the fight. Pavlik's momentum continued in the fourth round, which was more of the same. Pavlik was landing jabs and right hands and Taylor was be forced to go backwards.

The major difference in the fight was not only Pavlik's physical strength and punching power, but the fact that he was firing straighter punches. Taylor, who was presumed to have the better hand speed, was throwing wider shots and Pavlik was landing his shots in between Taylor wider shots. Pavlik could not miss Taylor with his right hand. In the fifth round, Taylor would have his best round since the second round, as he was able to box effectively in the center of the ring and keep the stronger challenger at bay. Once again in the sixth round, Pavlik resumed control. The seventh round spelt Taylor's demise, as Pavlik knocked Taylor into a corner with a series of hard right hands and beat him down until Taylor inevitably crumbled in the corner and the referee waved it off.

No count on the referee's part was administered nor was one necessary, as Taylor was a beaten man. Taylor, himself, did not protest the stoppage and neither did his Hall of Fame trainer Manny Steward. The official scoring at the point of the knockout was complete and utter bullshit in my opinion - with the official scores reading 59-55, 58-55, and 59-54 all in favor of Taylor. The judges were scoring shots thrown by Taylor that were landing on Pavlik's gloves and arms. Pavlik was blocking like 80% of those blows. I gave Taylor no more than two rounds (rounds two and five), as Boxing Chronicles had Pavlik ahead 57-56 (same as HBO's unofficial score keeper Harold Lederman).

Thank God, the scoring was irrelevant in this case due to the knockout. Pavlik is now the new World Middleweight Champion. He emerged victorious in what was not only one of the most significant fights of the year, but also the best fight of the year in my estimation. We not only witnessed a great middleweight championship fight, but also a decisive conclusion unlike many fights. Pavlik's promoter Bob Arum was quoted as saying, "That was the second best middleweight fight of all time, behind only Hagler vs Hearns." I'm not sure I would go so far to make such a statement. One would really have dig through the archives of middleweight fight history to see the classic battles that have happened over the years.

At this point, what I will refer to it as is the Fight of the Year for 2007. We might also have a viable candidate for Fighter of the Year in Kelly Pavlik, who has fought Jose Luis Zertuche, Edison Miranda, and Jermain Taylor. In two of those fights, he was the betting underdog. Now, he is the World Middleweight Champion. This result produces three things. A Fight of the Year Candidate. A Fighter of the Year candidate. A new Pound for Pound entrant.

There is a rematch clause in the contract, but only for the fight to take place at 168lbs. Last night after the fight, Taylor expressed an interest in exercising the rematch clause immediately.



Sean A. Malone said...

Great fight! While many may rush to label Taylor a fraud I think that Pavlik is a bonafide star in the making. I strongly favor Pavlik in the rematch as it was evident that he was battling big fight jitters early on.

Tim -- said...

I like your call on Fighter of the Year, but I think both the Vasquez-Marquez fights were better.