Pavlik-Taylor II Preview
By Josh Jacobs
Matchup: Kelly Pavlik vs. Jermain Taylor
Date: Saturday, February 16, 2008
Television: HBO PPV
Location: Las Vegas
Division: Super Middleweights
Title: No Title
Betting line: Kelly Pavlik (-185) Jermain Taylor (+155)
Round Prop: 10 1/2
History: I’ve detailed these two fighters’ age and experience during the first meeting back in September of 2007. Since neither fighter has returned to the ring since the first bout, nothing has changed as far as squaring off against different opponents. You can click here to view the preview of the September match for more information on both boxers’ lineage.
Taking a brief recap of what many would consider the “fight of the year” in ‘07, Kelly Pavlik entered the ring with Jermain Taylor after coming off an impressive victory against hyped sensation Edison Miranda in May of 2007 (a bout which exposed Pavlik’s average defense but displayed his raw power).
Showing what many would consider his weakest trait, Pavlik lowered his hands in the second round. It was a huge mistake with Taylor capitalizing on an over the top rock. Getting dropped early in the second round, Pavlik was able to clear out the cobwebs before getting to his feet in the third.
Refusing to look back from the knockdown, Pavlik remained confident and composed. Crowding Taylor on the ropes and landing deadly body combinations, the “Ghost” constructed what would be the greatest comeback in boxing for 2007.
The challenger was able to land jabs and hooks, but Pavlik’s chin was like a shock absorber on an off-road sport utility vehicle (buffering the ripple of Taylor’s power shots from critically injuring the 25-year-old phenom).
At 2:14 in the seventh round, Taylor was double-backed in the corner of the ring. A bone crunching left uppercut by Pavlik laid the ground for a barrage of lefts and rights that pulled the rug from under the feet of the once undefeated Taylor. It only took two accurate left hooks to seal the deal, with referee Steve Smoger stepping in to end the carnage.
The aftermath of the “edge of your seat” battle resulted in Pavlik becoming a house hold name around the boxing community. For Taylor, the loss might have been earth shattering, but not the case. The Razorback quickly exercised his rematch clause, serving more as damage control on a public relations level.
Almost five months removed from the groundbreaking exchange of leather, Pavlik and Taylor will once again descend onto the canvas. The differences in this new chapter will be a change in venue, with the MGM Grand being the new point of interest and a catch weight of 166-pounds (as opposed to the 160-pound limit in the last fight).
Strengths/Weaknesses: Kelly Pavlik is not your typical power puncher. At first glance, his lanky build might have novice boxing fans and other pedestrians questioning his ability. But looks can be very deceiving, and for Pavlik power is this guy’s strong suit.
Packing brawn in both fists, Pavlik is a blue collar worker (just like the residents of his home town, Youngstown, OH.) He may step in the way of straight shots a bit too much, but once in the pocket, Pavlik let’s the age old boxing strategy of combos rip through his opponents. His chin might be the best weapon, giving him the edge of staying in an exchange with just enough time to connect devastating body and head shots.
And need I say more about Pavlik’s constitution and willingness to rebound in time of desperation. If you have any question just look back at that amazing comeback in part one of the Taylor-Pavlik meeting.
Where there are positives, negatives don’t follow too far behind.
Pavlik’s defense is not the most lucrative of skills in his bag. Dropping hands and exposing the chin are classic evidence of offense first, defense last. Not only did Taylor expose this weakness in September, but Edison Miranda’s losing effort was another example. Miranda’s own physical game plan would have floored most boxers in the middleweight class, but given the luck of the draw, Pavlik was born with an iron jaw. It might be premature to say that severe beatings can only cut the champion’s career short, but this argument will be saved for a later date.
Jermain Taylor wasn’t unbeaten in 26 fights for no apparent reason. Lacking the same power punch that can end a fighter’s night in comparison to Pavlik, Taylor thrives on the full range of weapons at his disposal.
Left jabs, right crosses, risky but effective uppercuts and lateral movement are all part of the Taylor package. As classic and fundamental as his style is, the Arkansas native has used all facets of these skills with rock solid results.
Combos are all part of the game, with Taylor displaying that in the knockdown of Pavlik in round two of the first engagement. Taking patience over high risk, Taylor utilizes boxing IQ to damage and finally finish off opponents.
Exposed in the Cory Spinks bout in May of 2005, Taylor’s heart wasn’t ticking on the competitive beat. A lack of willingness and bloated cockiness where highlighted in the split decision win over Spinks. But, the deficient energy that Taylor was void of earlier last year won’t rear its head in this rematch (I’ll tell you why in a bit).
The biggest problem may be the gas factor (the gas factor?). Taylor has been known to throw the kitchen sink at opponents well before the fight is secured or nearing completion. The end result is a Taylor void of enough gas to finish the fight on the same note that he started on. When the fuel is low in the tank, Taylor takes unnecessary risk. And we know the end result of this problem; a Kelly Pavlik win in dramatic fashion.
Fight Night: The second go-around for what I predict will be an instant classic rematch, will include different dynamics in comparison to the initial bout.
First the weight issue: Taylor’s only demand for the rekindled exchange of gloves was that the catch weight be moved to 160 pounds (the first fight was fought at 166 pounds). This is very significant in terms of energy and preparation for both camps. In the ring, expect Pavlik to take advantage of the weight gain in terms of increased power potential in his punches. For Taylor the benefit will be seen in a possible edge in stamina and reserve energy.
The second angle to concentrate on is Taylor’s dumping of legendary trainer Emanuel Steward. Whether it was Taylor’s way of pinning the blame on Steward for the loss against Pavlik or just the overall feel of the trainer’s regiment, the breakup can be considered important until the fight proves otherwise.
Changing of the guard placed Taylor’s armature trainer, Ozell Nelson at the helm. The word on the street indicated that Nelson is more about physical preparation versus Steward’s strength training.
The change in cornerman may or may not affect the final outcome, but heed the adjustment nonetheless.
The bottom line is expect Pavlik to change very little (if anything) when the opening bell rings. His strategy of pounding with a relentless attack will not change (its worked throughout his amateur and pro career). Yes, Taylor demonstrated that his bellow average knockout power can floor Pavlik, but determination paid out in dividends for the challenger.
As for Taylor, adjustment will be key. In the close win over Winky Wright, Taylor demonstrated that modification of his style was tough to accomplish. Remember Wright is a southpaw so that won’t be the problem in this bout, but it’s still worth taking into account that Taylor must stick and move if he want’s to turn the tide in his favor.
There will be no championship on the line in this weekend’s bout. With the increase in weight, Pavlik’s middleweight titles won’t be there for Taylor’s taking. It seams that Taylor want’s revenge a lot more then belts and trophies (a paycheck would be nice though).
Just remember that Taylor has his career on the line. A loss would most surely spell disaster. In the event that Pavlik gets out pointed, it seems logical that a bounce back is more attainable then in the ex-champ’s case. With Pavlik at only 25 years old and already experiencing major strides in his occupation, Taylor is the fighter facing all or nothing.
Betting Corner: What a win can do to the odds! Back in September, Pavlik was catching a +115 price tag (bet $100 to make $115). Several months removed from the upset, the table has turned and Pavlik has now been installed by most books as a chalky $1.85 favorite. Taylor on the other hand has been listed as a $1.55 underdog, while the round prop is currently sitting at 10 ½-rounds. The ‘over’ has been tagged at +145 and the ‘under’ is looking at a -185 price.
If your interested in additional props, there’s some final result prices to look at.
At a long shot, the draw has been listed at 15/1. Pavlik by decision is sitting at 5/1, while Pavlik by KO, TKO or DQ win is at 4/5. For Taylor to win by decision, the payout has been set at 4/1, while a Taylor KO, TKO or DQ victory is looking at a 4/1 payout.
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Fight, fight, fight! This weekend's boxing breakdown
No NBA? No matter.
This is the best boxing weekend in recent memory. So sit back, grab a beer, and enjoy.
And maybe make a few bucks too.
Here's a quick rundown of what's happening this weekend in the world of legal mayhem.
Kelly Pavlik (32-0) vs. Jermain Taylor (27-1-1) - The Sequel
The problem with boxing in recent years is that the best fights have flown under the radar, while the heavily-promoted bouts have largely been disappointments. This fight might be a step in the right direction for the sport. Rather than trusting "names" to deliver a good fight, we are seeing some relative unknowns duke it out in a rematch of what was one of the best fights of 2007. I urge you to check out that video if you like tough boxing.
The first fight had it all and still ended with more questions than answers. Taylor floored Pavlik in the second round with an exquisite four-punch combo, but Pavlik gamely made it through the round. The next four rounds saw some great back-and-forth activity, but Taylor seemed to have a better fight plan, which is not surprising since he was trained by Emanuel Steward.
Taylor may have been moving backwards, but he was generally winning most of the encounters with strong counter-punching. By the seventh round he was well ahead on all cards. But that was when Pavlik unleashed a flurry which reminded everybody, especially Taylor, that Pavlik is one of the hardest punchers under 175 pounds. Taylor hit the canvas and the ref didn't let the fight continue.
In the four-plus months since that fight, things have become even more interesting.
Not only is Taylor returning in an unusually short amount of time since that devastating loss, but he's also switched trainers, dumping Steward in favor of his father-figure, Ozell Nelson. Taylor also triggered a clause in the original contract to allow the fighters to meet at a catch weight of 166, rather than the original fight's limit of 160 pounds.
All of these decisions raise questions about Taylor. The one thing he had going for him in the last fight was a great trainer and fight plan. In recent fights he's been leaning towards a lackluster work ethic in training and it seems unlikely that a member of his entourage will be able to snap him out of that funk.
Finally, you really have to question the decision to fight at 166. Granted, Taylor has been struggling to stay under 160, but so has Pavlik. Pavlik has already proven he can take the best Taylor can throw - it would be hard to beat some of the punches Taylor landed in the first fight - and a couple of pounds won't make too much difference. Allowing Pavlik the chance to add another half-dozen pounds of meat to his frame after he dummied you only 140 days ago is questionable at best. Doing it while dumping the best boxing mind in the game in favor of a inexperienced trainer is, frankly, stupid.
Current odds at Pinnaclesports.com:
Cristian Mijares (33-3-2) vs. Jose Navarro (26-3) - WBC super flyweight title
This is one of the undercards for Pavlik-Taylor but it won't be nearly as entertaining a fight from a power perspective. This fight is a reason why these lower weight classes should still have 15-round fights, because these southpaws could go forever.
That being said, Cristian Mijares is the far better fighter. He is only 26, but he is building an impressive resume going 22-0-1 since his last loss in 2002.
Navarro is also only 26, but his career is heading in the other direction. I'm not sure how this guy can have a title fight given his record is only 5-3 since 2004. That is the state of the sport.
Current odds at Pinnacle:
Fernando Montiel (35-2-1) vs. Martin Castillo (33-2) - WBO Super Flyweight Title
Note the subtle difference in titles between this fight and the Mijares/Navarro fight. Apparently this means something to some people. This is another one of the undercards for Pavlik-Taylor and should be an entertaining fight.
Both of these guys are typical flyweights who seemingly have endless tanks of gas. Montiel is especially fun to watch as he actually has a little pop in his punches and has been involved in a couple of boxing matches that turned into street fights. I didn't see his last fight with Luis Melendez, and I can't find any video, but apparently it was a lot of fun to watch with both fighters spending time on the canvas.
Castillo has been re-tuning with a string of nobodies after losing the WBA title a couple of years ago to Nobuo Nashiro in Japan after being stopped in the 10th with a messy cut. Had the fight gone the distance, I think Castillo would have pulled out a win. At 31, this might be Castillo's last shot at a title. The Ring actually ranks Castillo higher than Montiel, but I'll believe that when I see it.
Current odds at Pinnacle:
Nikolay Valuev (47-1) vs. Sergei Lyakhovich (23-2)
This fight is happening somewhere in Germany and is notable to me because I simply love watching Valuev fight. If you haven't seen him before you won't know what I mean, but let me describe it this way: Imagine what it would look like of Shaq was a boxer and had a head the size of a pumpkin. Valuev is seven feet tall and regularly outweighs his opponents by 100 pounds. Not joking - this guy looks like Bald Bull from Mike Tyson's Punch Out.
He's on the comeback trail after somehow losing last year to Ruslan Chagaev. I didn't see the fight, but apparently it was a majority decision loss with Valuev, not surprisingly, tiring in the second half of the fight. And that's the book on Valuev, if you can last more than five or six rounds there is a real loss of steam - and his punches start loading up slower than Bald Bull himself.
Valuev still owns something called the NABA Heavyweight Title, which I think was presented to him when he was the one millionth person to order the Great Bloomin' Onion at Outback Steakhouse.
Luckily for Valuev, he's fighting a guy who is coming back from his own loss, and an interesting one at that. Only 104 days ago, Lyakhovich got knocked out of the ring by Shannon Briggs with one second left in the fight. If you follow boxing, then you have no doubt seen it on YouTube. Yeah, he's that guy. All he had to do was stay in the ring and he would have won, or at least salvaged a draw. But he fell out of the ring. You've got to think it's hard to come back from that - especially when you find yourself facing somebody that's, oh, maybe 55 pounds bigger than Briggs.
Take a look at that YouTube link again and ask yourself what would happen if that guy was facing a 7-foot, 325 pound monster in that same situation.
Current odds at Pinnacle:
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Pavlik's a hard man to keep down
He survived an early knockdown to KO Taylor last year, which he says gives him the edge in their non-title rematch.
LAS VEGAS -- Now that he has emerged from the scare of his boxing life, Kelly Pavlik calls the second-round knockdown he suffered at the hands of Jermain Taylor last year "a little mishap."
So what if he appeared rubber-legged in recovery, holding on to Taylor as he remembered referee Steve Smoger's pre-fight briefing that the official wouldn't call a technical knockout as long as the wounded fighter could "hold on."
Pavlik survived the round, had the blood wiped from his nose, and proceeded to show he had the conditioning advantage over Taylor by unleashing a seventh-round barrage that allowed him to wrest Taylor's World Boxing Council and World Boxing Organization middleweight belts by a dramatic knockout.
The bout was a boost for boxing, producing a classic fight and a new, throwback champion from an unlikely location, the economically slumping town of Youngstown, Ohio.
"He underestimated me," said Pavlik (32-0, 29 knockouts). "It's going to be worse for him now. I see a continuation of the first fight, without me being hurt.
"He can't keep up with my work rate, my power, my speed."
Pavlik will find out for certain tonight at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas when he gets his rematch with Taylor (27-1-1, 17 KOs), albeit at a nontitle catch weight limit of 166 pounds.
Pavlik's veteran promoter, Bob Arum, had publicly pursued the first Taylor fight since the beginning of 2007, then made the concession, if Pavlik won, to allow a rematch to be fought at a higher weight than the middleweight limit, 160 pounds. Taylor has said he'd like to move up to super-middleweight, or beyond.
"The Taylor camp required the contract to have the rematch at 166," Arum said. "I don't feel good being over 160 pounds, but that's the deal I made."
The importance of fighting at 166 took a hit at Friday's weigh-in when both fighters weighed 164.
Still, Pavlik and his trainer, Jack Loew, say the higher weight is to their advantage, as is the psychological edge of winning by knockout less than five months ago.
"It's a stronger, more confident Kelly Pavlik," Loew said.
Loew has also chided Taylor for replacing Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward in his corner with his amateur trainer and longtime professional assistant trainer, Ozell Nelson. Taylor, however, claims that since the loss he has regained an appreciation for the commitment it takes to be a champion boxer.
"I know from the first fight that I can hit him," Taylor said. "He doesn't have a lot of head movement. I didn't have the energy last time, but this time I'll get him out of there. He's a basic fighter."
Arum, who promoted the three-round middleweight classic between Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns in 1985, projects a similar "all-action fight, one bomb after the other."
The card also includes two super-flyweight world title fights: a WBO bout pitting champion Fernando Montiel of Mexico against Martin Castillo of Los Angeles, and WBC champ Cristian Mijares of Mexico vs. Jose Navarro of South Central Los Angeles.
Navarro (26-3, 12 KOs), a 2000 U.S. Olympian, has fought -- and lost -- for a world title three times since 2005. He was the first fighter ever managed by Oscar De La Hoya, before De La Hoya turned to the more profitable business of Golden Boy Promotions.
Trying to follow De La Hoya's path, but without the critical gold-medal boost of publicity, Navarro found the post-Olympic path more difficult. His largest purse has been $100,000, and he now lives in his in-laws' home with his wife and two children.
Navarro lost his first title shot by a suspect decision. He won every round on one judge's scorecard against Japan's Katsushige Kawashima in Tokyo, but two other judges gave Kawashima the edge. Navarro's other lost title decisions came again in Japan, and last year when he was knocked down in the third round by Dimitri Kirilov in Russia.
"I've learned something in every fight I've lost," Navarro said. "This might be a do-or-die fight for me, but I believe in myself."
Navarro says he dreams of soon moving his family into a new home in Torrance.
"I win this fight, I buy my house," he said.
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