The town of Youngstown, Ohio is known for producing hard working people and hard working fighters like Ray ‘Boom Boom’ Mancini and Harry Arroyo from yesteryear and unbeaten Middleweight Champion Kelly Pavlik of today. Hard work is what produced a 12-round unanimous decision over Jermain Taylor in their rematch last Saturday night at the MGM Grand here in Las Vegas. The judges had it 117-111, 116-112, and 115-113. I had it 117-112. We all got it right.
Some, however, thought Taylor won the fight, they had it wrong. The reason they probably thought Taylor came out on top, is because he did manage to come out standing this time. Five months ago, when we last saw Jermain he was sprawled on the canvas after being knocked out in devastating fashion by Pavlik in round 7.
I thought we most likely would witness something similar to that again, but I was wrong on that notion. Taylor to his credit was really fighting to save his career, and to his credit he fought a spirited fight. Maybe the absence of Emanuel Steward in his corner did him some good. Whatever he did this time, he managed to do much better than the last time.
On the other hand, Pavlik, as he admitted to me after the fight, was a bit flat. I could kind of see him searching to try and get something going and, at times, he did, but not consistently enough, especially in light of how much better Taylor was moving this time out. Jermain did a much better job of not languishing on the ropes and getting caught with Pavlik’s powerful combos.
Kelly fought through some rough moments and continued to press forward throwing many more punches than Taylor. Kelly would try a certain combination and if it did not work he would go to the body. A few of those body blows later in the fight really were the most telling blows of the fight. Going this 12-round distance for the first time in his career and winning, I feel, will serve as a positive for Kelly. Remember even the late, great Middleweight Champ Carlos Monzon had quite a number of 15-round decision wins when he was knocking guys out.
A lot of great things on the horizon for the 25-year-old Pavlik. Most likely he will take on Irishmen John Duddy at Madison Square Garden in June. Felix Trinidad has also been mentioned. As for Jermain, at 29-years-old is still fairly young and he proved he still has the goods and the want to try and become champion again, most likely at 168 pounds from this point on. All in all, a nice fight, good performances by Jermain and Kelly, who is still unbeaten, now at 33-0 with 29 knockouts, and now his first 12-round decision win.
Two former Heavyweight Title holders went at it this past weekend, the Russian giant 7 foot Nicolay Valuev, a former WBA Champion, won a 12-round unanimous decision over former WBO Champ Sergei Liakhovich from Belarus, in what I was told was a terribly boring fight.
Hopefully this weekend’s Heavyweight Title fight featuring Champion Wladimir Klitschko and unbeaten southpaw Sultan Ibragimov will be a little better. Wladimir is coming off four straight stoppages and appears to be at the top of his game and he is right now boxing’s best Heavyweight Champion out there.
Having said that, his three losses have all come by stoppages and we never can forget that. Does the ‘Russian Sultan’ Ibragimov pack enough wallop to bring down the big Ukrainian? Well, Ibragimov has 17 knockouts in his 22 wins with 1 draw coming against trial horse Ray Austin in 2006. Ibragimov comes off a 12-round win over Evander ‘Methuselah’ Holyfield last October.
I don’t really know much about this Sultan. The only Sultan I know something about was the ‘Sultan of Swat’ Babe Ruth. Here’s what I think though, the one most likely getting swatted will be Ibragimov. I like Klitschko to make it five straight, but it could be interesting if it gets into the later rounds where Klitschko has shown vulnerability in the past.
We so desperately need a great heavyweight to come from somewhere here in America again someday soon. Maybe the problem is that no young kids seem to ride bicycles anymore. What am I trying to say? Well, Muhammad Ali, when he was a 12-year-old Cassius Clay, had his red bike stolen. He went into the local Police Athletic league and wanted to learn how to fight so he could beat up the kid who stole his bike and policeman Joe Martin started his pugilistic tutelage. The rest is history.
The problem today is I never see any kids riding their bikes, at least not here in my neighborhood in Green Valley, Las Vegas. The only thing I see are kids on skateboards, and I don’t know maybe I’m prejudging, but purely based on looks and their dexterity on their boards, I can’t imagine any of these kids ever defeating a Joe Frazier of George Foreman. No ‘Thrilla in Manila’ or ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ for these lads. Oh well, there has to be some athletic kid’s red bike getting swiped somewhere.