Kelly Pavlik headed fast toward Middleweight Championship.

The Pretty Boy Floyd Mayweather vs Oscar De La Hoya fight is over now, but we still have more to be excited about with the sport with another fighter who may not nearly be as skillful as those two, but he can box, he can punch and he can fight.  I’m talking about unbeaten middleweight contender Kelly Pavlik from Youngstown, Ohio.

As I predicted last week in this column, Kelly was able to upset favorite Edison Miranda with a great 7th-round stoppage of the fighter some were calling the most dangerous of all middleweights out there today.  Although I did predict the outcome, I did not think it would unfold the way it did.  I thought Pavlik should box early in the fight, use his height and reach advantages to negate the early onslaught of Miranda who had scored nearly all of his 24 KO’s in 28 wins before round 4.  There was no feeling out process with Pavlik as he jumped right on top on Miranda and really never let up until he stopped the highly touted Columbian. 

What was so impressive was the way Kelly went about his aggressive attack.  It was methodical aggression as he used his left jab to set up a multitude of combinations to the head and body to break down Miranda. Pavlik’s primary defense was his offense.  Miranda did manage to find the mark with some very powerful punches in round 2.  They were the same kind of punches that did in nearly all of his opponents, but not Pavlik who showed that he has a strong chin to go along with the rest of his arsenal.  I felt that Pavlik’s body attack is what really took the heart out of Miranda during the middle rounds of the fight.  You could see the pained expression on Miranda’s swelling face when he was being hit with hard Pavlik punches to the ribs and body. 

You don’t know how much that can take out of you unless you have fought at some level.  I know because I had many a cracked rib during my career.  The sting from heavy punches to the head can go away in a few minutes or rounds, but heavy body blows continue to sap you of all your energy and then your heart and that’s what happened with Miranda.

Pavlik, I believe, possesses what I like to call uncommon power.  When he hits his opponents with certain solid punches they just cannot deal with the power.  It is a rare quality that few fighters have.  Uncommon power does not guarantee you a world championship. 

Two fighters that had it in the heavyweight division never captured world titles.  One was Earnie Shavers, also know as ‘The Acorn’ and ‘The Black Destroyer’, one of the most murderous punchers in history, Shavers knocked out 68 of the 74 guys he beat.  Earnie had a few big problems that kept him from being a champion, names like Muhammad Ali and then Larry Holmes.  You see Shavers came at the end of Muhammad and beginning of Larry, a bad time to try and capture the heavyweight title.  Both beat Shavers and Holmes did it twice.  Believe me in today’s game the Acorn would have won a title.   

Another Heavyweight who had uncommon power and never captured a title and, even though his is still active, I don’t think he ever will, is David Tua. ‘The Tuaman’ proved to be a devastating puncher as he climbed the ranks of the heavyweight division.  He had a great left hook that he would throw almost from the floor being such a short heavyweight. And in his prime he could knock you out in 20 seconds like he did John Ruiz or in round 11 like he did Oleg Masqaev.

Tua got his title shot against Lennox Lewis and obviously the tremendous height and reach advantages of Lewis really hurt Tua, but what hurt him most was he froze up during that fight and really was never the same fighter after that.  So the uncommon power does not insure you of a championship, but boy does it help get you there and captivate boxing fans along the way..  I believe Kelly will fare better than Shavers and Tua and others who had the power to be champs but failed to reach the pugilistic Promised Land. 

First off it’s the good fortune for Pavlik to be around at a time when there really is no great Middleweight Champion as Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr are well past there primes and no longer in the 160 division.  Also Kelly is not hampered in any way by any physical limitations, in fact, he has tremendous physical attributes when it comes to his size for a middleweight in today’s or in any generation.  Kelly is a big middleweight, standing 6’2” he is taller than Jermain Taylor who stands 6’1”, taller than Hopkins who also stands 6’1”, he is much taller than Marvelous Marvin Hagler who is 5’9”, and even surprisingly a lot taller than even the late great former champion Carlos Monzon who stood a little less than 6 foot. 

Kelly is a well schooled disciplined fighter who knows how to use his height but he is also very naturally strong. He is ‘old school’ strong; maybe do to some of his ‘old school’ strength-training techniques like hitting a tire with a sledgehammer or pushing a parked truck up a hill. That’s stuff that builds the natural strength and that builds the kind of muscles that stay relaxed and don’t tire over the course of a fight.  If Pavlik were to fight Jermain Taylor tomorrow I would pick the 25-year-old from Youngstown to win the fight. 

Now on to Taylor whose fight against Cory Spinks was the main event on the card with Pavilik and Miranda.  As expected it was the main event in name only.  Terrible fight, boring. As expected Cory fought very ‘Mayweatherish’ without the great skills of Floyd and with even less offense, and as for Taylor who has the nickname of “ Bad Intentions”, well he needs to change that to “no intentions” as he had no battle plan, no game plan, he just was there.  Even his best weapon his left jab, which he used so much earlier in his career, was not in Memphis where this card was held.  I gave Taylor a little break for taking on the smallish Spinks right after taking on the smallish Kassim Ouma, because prior to those two fights he fought Hopkins twice and then Winky Wright, but now I will not give him any more slack.

Jermain should have totally bullied and destroyed Spinks, like Zab Judah did in their second fight.  It was obvious to Taylor’s trainer, Emanuel Steward, that Taylor was putting on a dreadful performance as Manny seemed so thoroughly frustrated with Taylor in between rounds I thought he might throw in the towel for lack of performance by his fighter.  Jermain won the fight, and it should have been a unanimous decision, but not for effort.  Cory put up an okay performance, he did what he wanted to do which was to peck and try and steal the fight. Cory was Cory, but Jermain was bad and I don’t mean bad intentions, just plain bad. 

You know what I think it is with Taylor right now; he has now become a money fighter.  He basically said as much when being interviewed after the fight.  When he was asked about fighting Pavlik, he said it depended on the money, whether the money was right.  Well of course the money needs to be right, but that is for his manger Lou Dibella to worry about, and believe me Lou will take care of that end of things. As for the fighter, he should want to take on the top young lion out there to show he is king of the middleweight forest.  After all that’s what Bernard did for him which is how he won the title in the first place.  Look for Kelly Pavlik to be champ within a year if he keeps his head on right.  Here’s hoping he does, the kid will be good for boxing right now. He is 31-0 with 28 KO’s and poised for a world title fight.  He deserves it Jermain, just like you did a few years back.

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