Sunday, July 29, 2007

Middle Man, Front and Center!


(Photo by Ed Mulholland via www.fightnews.com)

The drums have already started beating for what may be one of the best matches in combat sports today. Undisputed middleweight champion Jermain "Bad Intentions" Taylor will defend his titles against consensus #1 contender Kelly "The Ghost" Pavlik. This is a must fight for both fighters, the sport of boxing, and the fans.

Taylor first came into boxing prominence after a trio of very close, could-go-either-way-type championship bouts versus Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins and Ronald "Winky" Wright. Since those fights, what should have been a coronation of his middleweight conquest, has now become a snide question mark due to his last two performances against undersized foes: Kassim "The Dream" Ouma and Cory Spinks, Jr.

Pavlik, on the other fist, has been on a tear against a contender his own weight with an equally as ferocious a puncher. And he did it in a much more exciting fashion that Taylor's last five fights have been. This feat alone does not mean a victory on Septermber 29, at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ, and will be televised on HBO World Championship Boxing, thankfully no PPV.

As far as stats go Pavlik is the taller of the two at 6'2 1/2" while Taylor stands at 6'1". A native of Youngstown, OH, Pavlik is also younger by three years at 25 years of age. Each undefeated fighter has fought at middleweight or close to it their entire professional careers.

Taylor, the franchise of Little Rock, AR, has the better pedigree as far as boxing experience goes. From winning a bronze medal at the 2000 U.S. Olympics to dethroning a certified boxing legend in Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins, Taylor's boxing resume far exceeds all Pavlik has done ... so far.

As far as styles go, Pavlik appears to have the advantage. When he wants to, he can use his great height and reach to outbox and punish foes with heavy hands. Taylor,on the other hand, has been fairly predictable, though still unbeatable, with his jab, jab, straight right hand style. His footwork is reminiscent of a duck sliding across at your local carnival's shooting gallery. Pavlik showed great adjustment--and a great chin--in choosing to brawl on the inside with the supposed harder hitter, Edison "Pantera" Miranda, and come away with a jaw dropping ko.

Reading the above paragraph should spell a tactical, hard fought victory for Pavlik. But, and you know there always is one in boxing, it must be noted that Taylor fought one of the craftiest infighters in B-Hop and one of the better defensive boxers in Winky and was competitive against both. The main difference is that Pavlik hits harder than both of them and keeps his aggressive stamina late into fights.

My fearless prediction (based on my last predictions, play strictly with funny money): Pavlik wins a fairly comfortable decision after being tested by Jermain.

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