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Thread: Taylor vs. Pavlik Press

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    Taylor-Pavlik Predictions, Result, and Discussion 9/29/07

    Taylor-Pavlik to happen in Atlantic City on September 29

    By Marc Abrams
    15 Rounds.com

    According to David Weinberg of the Atlantic City Press, The anticipated middleweight showdown between recognized champion Jermain Taylor and top contender Kelly Pavlik will take place in Atlantic City at Boardwalk Hall on September 29.

    Taylor, 27-0-1 with seventeen knockouts and Pavlik 31-0 with twenty-eight knockouts have been on a collision course since May 19th when Taylor scored a split decision over Cory Spinks and Pavlik scored a sensational knockout over highly regarded Edison Miranda as they shard a bill in Memphis.

    The paper said that Cesars and Ballys will be the lead hotel sponsors for the fight that will be broadcast ed on HBO.

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    Taylor-Pavlik Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    The Ghost Plans to Haunt Jermain Taylor: Kelly Pavlik Speaks With RSR About His Upcoming Middleweight Title Shot
    Interview by Jonathan Cook
    Ringside Report.com


    “Taylor is starting to run his mouth like Edison did, you know he’s going to talk a lot of trash. It is starting to unfold just like the Miranda fight did. So I think we can look for the same kind of turn out.”--Kelly Pavlik

    A native of Youngstown, Ohio, Kelly has continued training at the same gym he grew up at. Kelly worked through the amateurs winning the 1998 Junior PAL and Golden Gloves tournaments at 147 pounds. He followed that up by winning the 1999 U.S. National under-19 amateur Championship. In June 2000, he made his professional debut at the age of 18 with a third round KO of Eric Tzand. Nearly seven years later Kelly has yes to lose a fight.

    With his destruction of Edison Miranda on HBO, Kelly Pavlik catapulted himself from relative unknown to possibly the middleweight division’s most exciting fighter. At 25 years old, Pavlik, 31-0, 28 KO’s, has the style and talent to capture the attention of even the casual boxing fan. His biggest test will come in September when he faces Jermain Taylor, 27-0-1, 17 KO’s, for the WBO and WBC Middleweight Titles.

    With his training underway, Kelly took a few minutes away from the gym to talk to the RSR Readers about boxing and the opportunity of a lifetime.

    JC: How is training camp going so far?

    Everything is good. Right now I am going a couple of days per week. Usually I’ll start going full force a couple of weeks out.

    JC: Is that your usual schedule for building up to a fight?

    Yeah, because we train like 8-9 hours a day. Sometimes when it gets to fight time my lower back and my arms…you know I don’t want to be wore out by the time the fight comes around.

    JC: Are you training in Youngstown (Ohio)?

    Yes.

    JC: You are about 6’2”; do you walk around at about 160 pounds or do you have to come down quite a bit to make weight?

    Yeah, I have to come down quite a bit. It is actually getting kind of hard, but after this fight…after I win the title, I would like to fight for the WBA and IBF Titles. As long as I can stick around without killing myself to make weight.

    JC: So you would actually feel more comfortable if the opportunity was there to move in weight?

    Oh yeah, that would definitely be a lot easier.

    JC: You were undefeated going into your fight with Edison Miranda, but even with your record many of the ringside people were not picking you or giving you much respect. Did you feel before the fight you would be able to dominate the way you did?

    Well I knew it would be a tough fight…he hits very hard, and he punches like a mule. We knew if we stuck to our game plan…see the thing about it is you get in there with a big puncher and as soon as they get hit their whole game plan changes. We stuck to our game plan and we backed him up. Then it was just a matter of can he deal with my power, my strength, and my size? I knew he couldn’t fight very well going backwards, so that was the whole game plan.

    JC: Do you feel like you are getting more respect going in against Jermain or are you going to be in the underdog role again?

    It seems like I am getting respect a little bit, but I am still the underdog and I love that. Taylor is starting to run his mouth like Edison did, you know he’s going to talk a lot of trash. It is starting to unfold just like the Miranda fight did. So I think we can look for the same kind of turn out.

    JC: Does that help you when your opponent thinks he is just going to run you over?

    Yeah I love it. When Taylor runs his mouth like that, it shows me there is no self-confidence.

    JC: After the his fight with Cory Spinks, Taylor didn’t sound like you were his number one option as far as his next fight. Did it seem like it was going to be hard to get a fight signed with him?

    Yeah I thought so, but you know what? He backed himself into a corner. The boxing critics wanted to see him fight legitimate middleweights that are tough and dangerous fights for a champion. He sidestepped a lot of those fights. Now it has come to the point where people are demanding so much of him because of that, that he had no choice but to take a fight with me. He tried a lot to get out of it. He was kind of waiting for Tito Trinidad. So there was a time when I wasn’t sure if the fight was going to happen…but now it’s a done deal.

    JC: Do you think he was looking for the big name guy just to make a lot of money, rather than fighting a legitimate contender?

    It actually looked like he might be waiting for the (Winky) Wright fight. I think if (Winky) Wright had won that we wouldn’t be talking about the fight right now.

    JC: What did you think of the Wright-Hopkins fight?

    I didn’t really know what to expect. They both came out the way I expected; you know it was a boring fight. A couple of years ago Hopkins was probably one of the great, great middleweights of all time. Now you can see the age is catching up with him…that’s the same for (Winky) Wright…it’s the same for both of those guys. (Winky) Wright is not a 170 lb fighter…he is more of a junior middleweight.

    JC: When you start your sparring, what do you think your trainers will have your partners mimic in order to get ready for Taylor? What is his best attribute?

    We are going to take this a lot of different routes. We are going to bring in a handful of sparring partners. We are going to bring a guy in that throws a lot of punches, bangs, and doesn’t back up. We are going to bring in a guy that throws punches here and there, and just survives up on the ropes…you know because Jermain likes to go to the ropes. If he comes to slug it out, what is probably going to happen is, as soon as I hit him, his whole game plan is going to change…he’s not going to slug anymore. If he goes back to boxing and jabbing, he pushes his jabs a lot. So we will work on stuff like that, some countering, which is pretty easy to do. A lot of different angles we are going to take on this fight.

    JC: What do you think your best attribute is that Emanual Steward will have him working on?

    First of all, he is going to have to have him in shape. He better not get tired in the seventh round like he did against Hopkins. Other than that, I don’t know. He might rely on watching my last couple of fights that were just slugfests. This fight we have a different game plan.

    JC: He tends to like a more tactical fight. Do you think you are going to have to force the action in order to win?

    Yeah, that’s the way I am. Anytime I fight, I always throw a lot of punches. From my pro debut until now…I throw a shit load of punches.

    JC: Do you feel like you would need a KO to win? Do you have any problem leaving it up to the judges?

    To tell you the truth I don’t think I will have a problem with the judges if it goes to a decision, but a knockout is always better. I would prefer to get the guy out early and not take the chance of anything happening.

    JC: Can I get you to give me an “Ali” and predict a round?

    Nawww… but I tell you what; it is going to be exciting.

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    Taylor-Pavlik Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    Taylor-Pavlik press conference quotes

    For Immediate Release

    The following are quotes and the press release from Tuesday’s Taylor vs. Pavlik press conference at Tavern on the Green.


    Lou DiBella, President, DiBella Entertainment

    “This is a great fight for Jermain Taylor. This is a great fight for boxing. We are very excited that we could bring this fight to Atlantic City. I have always wanted to promote a fight in Atlantic City and now I have the opportunity to do that. I live in the area and this is my backyard. With a strong urging from Ken Condon, we priced the tickets so that they are affordable for all boxing fans. To get a fight of this magnitude and have the top ticket price at only $400 scaled down to $50, all boxing fans will have the opportunity to watch this great middleweight championship bout.”


    Ken Condon, Sr. Vice President, Bally’s Atlantic City

    “My part time job is to run a casino in Atlantic City. My full time job is to bring big events to Atlantic City, and we are very excited to bring Taylor vs. Pavlik to Atlantic City. The ticket sales for this fight are unbelievable. Tickets went on sale for this fight quietly, meaning we had no advertising and no billboards up, and we sold over 1500 tickets. The entire floor is sold out.”


    Ross Greenburg, President, HBO Sports

    "We really wanted to have this fight live on HBO’s World Championship Boxing. We will have a countdown special, just like we would have for a major pay-per-view show. It will debut on September 22nd in prime time and run on consecutive nights through the week. This fight reminds us that this sport is very much alive."


    Bob Arum, CEO, Top Rank

    “This fight reminds us of the 80’s, when we had all of those great middleweight championship fights. This is a great competitive fight between the best two middleweights in the world. This fight is what boxing deserves and this is what boxing will get on September 29.”


    Ozell Nelson, “Coach”, Team Taylor

    “I watched Kelly Pavlik grow up. I saw him when he was an amateur. He and Jermain fought then, and I know he is going to bring it.”


    Emanuel Steward, Trainer, Jermain Taylor

    “These are the two middleweights that everyone talks about. This is the fight that people are talking about. Jermain Taylor has the faster hand speed and better coordination. And Kelly is going to be right there the whole time – right in front of him. I predict a knockout. This fight will not go six rounds.”


    Kelly Pavlik

    Emanuel, I can’t get mad at your prediction, you’re supposed to say that. I will take no chances, there is no playing around in this fight. I always put my best into it and I can’t wait until September 29th, and there will be many more after that.


    I’m 25, I’ve go the experience also. If he wants to come to fight, that is better for me. This is a great fight for boxing. Styles make fights. I predict a win. I predict pain.


    I will exploit all of his bad habits. I can’t tell you what they are right now, because I don’t want to give him any ideas. He has picked up some bad habits along the way, but he has not regressed. Styles make fights. I put my time in and I am hungry and deserved my shot.


    I don’t know what my strengths are. I like to fight. People say I have a good chin and I can take a punch.


    It is going to be a tactical brawl.


    Jermain Taylor

    I finally got a man that is not a lefthander, and I am excited about that. I’m a fighter, and I fight until the end of the fight. I give him respect – he is the No. 1 contender. He has proven to be a great fighter and I respect him for that. I expect him to come forward and try to overpower me. He will not run, he is not a southpaw, he is coming to fight. I know he hits hard and I am going to be aggressive.


    I will not be defeated. I am the Middleweight Champion of the World.


    I don’t remember fighting him – “Coach” told me – I came in and saw him and said ‘I never saw that guy in my life.


    All of the talk motivates me. It motivates me when I get up early in the morning to run. That’s all I think about. I am going to train for 12-rounds and I am going to win this fight. When all is said and done, I am going to win. Then after I whip this boy, we’ll see what happens.


    He’s going to be looking for a fight – that’s what it’s all about.




    UNDISPUTED AND UNDEFEATED WORLD MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPION JERMAIN "BAD INTENTIONS" TAYLOR TO DEFEND TITLE AGAINST UNBEATEN NO. 1 CONTENDER KELLY PAVLIK ON SAT., SEPT. 29, AT BOARDWALK HALL IN ATLANTIC CITY

    ***DiBella Entertainment to present boxing extravaganza in association with Top Rank, Inc.; Title Bout to Be Televised on HBO Sports World Championship Boxing***


    New York, July 31— Undisputed and Undefeated World Middleweight Champion Jermain "Bad Intentions" Taylor will make the fifth defense of his two-year title reign when he faces the stiff test of number 1 contender (WBC, WBO) Kelly "The Ghost" Pavlik on Saturday night, September 29, at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, it was announced today by Lou DiBella, president of DiBella Entertainment.


    "Taylor/Pavlik is a classic middleweight showdown, a true throwback fight," said DiBella. "The tickets are reasonably priced and are already in high demand with a significant casino presale. Any fight fan wanting to see this historic battle should act fast and purchase their tickets as soon as possible."


    "This is going to be a terrific fight, something that boxing really needs. The eyes of the sporting world will be watching these two great fighters in Atlantic City on Sept. 29," said Bob Arum, CEO of Top Rank.


    Taylor, the favorite son of Arkansas, has successfully defended his middleweight crown against legendary Bernard Hopkins, Winky Wright, Kassim Ouma, and Cory Spinks since first taking the title from Hopkins in 2005.


    HBO Sports World Championship Boxing will televise the world championship bout live at 10:15 p.m. ET/ 7:15 p.m. PT.


    Taylor (27-0-1, 17 KO's) has yet to taste defeat since turning professional in 2000. Pavlik, likewise undefeated, gets his first chance at a championship on the heels of a spectacular knockout victory over Edison Miranda. No. 1 rated by both the WBC and WBO, Youngstown, Ohio's undefeated Pavlik is a bona fide knockout artist, registering 28 KO's in 31 career triumphs as a professional.


    Taylor first captured the undisputed middleweight championship against the legendary Bernard Hopkins on July 17, 2005 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, NV, with a 12 round split decision triumph, and defended the title for the first time against Hopkins on December 3, 2005 at Mandalay Bay in Vegas with a unanimous decision victory. Taylor defended his title twice in 2006, first in Memphis in a controversial draw against Winky Wright on June 9, and last December 9 defeating former champion Kassim Ouma in Little Rock. Cory Spinks was next on the Taylor checklist, and Jermain was up to the challenge once again with a unanimous decision triumph in Memphis on May 19, 2007.


    Tickets priced at $400, $300, $200, $100 and $50 are on sale now and can be purchased at the Boardwalk Hall box office, by calling Ticketmaster at 1-800-736-1420 or by visiting www.ticketmaster.com.

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    Taylor-Pavlik Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    Jermain Taylor - Kelly Pavlik: Will it Happen?
    By Greg Rowe-August 6, 2007
    Ringside Report.com

    Jermain Taylor, “King of the Middleweight Division,” sounds petty good doesn’t it? The question is, for how much longer will he have that title? According to Taylor’s website, JT has decided that after his September fight against number one contender Kelly Pavlik, Taylor will move up to the 168 pound division and begin another world title quest. Ozell Nelson, Taylor’s coach and co-trainer has said that he wishes Jermain would move up right now but he respects Taylor’s wish to fight Pavlik because it is “the fight” that the public demand’s. “He has the heart of a champion,” Nelson said, in an interview in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Nelson also said that Taylor was expending too much energy trying to make 160 pounds. It has gone back to when he fought Former Undisputed Middleweight Champion Bernard Hopkins. His latest fight that took place on May 19th, against Former Welterweight and Current Junior Middleweight Champion Cory Spinks, Taylor had to shed 9 pounds in the final 36 hours that led up to the fight.

    Pavlik is coming into the fight on a tear that includes and undefeated record of 31-0, 28 KO’s, and a viscous knockout over a top 160 pound contender Edison Miranda. Many people I have talked to about this fight seem to think that it is Pavlik that will reign supreme and by a devastating knockout. Being the cynical boxing fan I am, I do not see it that way. Most of these people have seen Pavlik fight once maybe twice and base their opinions of this fight on the Pavlik-Miranda fight. In boxing you cannot do that, styles make fights and while Taylor can bang at 160 (even though he hasn’t done it since winning the crown from Hopkins) as can Pavlik. You cannot expect Taylor being the Champion he is to make the same mistake Miranda did against Pavlik. One must also remember that Taylor has Emanuel Steward in his corner, which is a huge factor as Manny is a master at coming up with game plans for his fighters to beat other great fighters.

    Taylor is an extraordinary boxer when he needs to be, I would expect him to try and use his legs and boxing ability along with a strong jab to try and keep Pavlik on the outside and try and set up his power shots. If he attempts to stand on the inside and trade shots with the powerful Pavlik he could end up suffering the same fate as one Edison Miranda.

    This is a very intriguing match up on a bunch of levels. This is a fight that the fans want because it pins Taylor against a big, strong Middleweight that can punch, a position that Taylor has not been in for a while. Pavlik is one of those guys that have made a name for himself because of the way he fights. He gives the fans what they want: a war; sort of a bigger Arturo Gatti being able to take it and dish it. My concern for him is his lack of quality opposition. While he does have Miranda on his resume, he does not have legends and top guys like Hopkins or Winky Wright. I think that will also be a huge factor come fight night. But as of right now this fight is still up in the air, some sites or writers have it penciled in and some have it written as a potential mega fight.

    This fight will mean something in the middleweight division but it will not have the effect on the division or the sport that is possible because Taylor is moving up in weight regardless if he beats Pavlik or not. Lou Dibella, Jermain Taylor’s promoter, has supposedly contacted Pavlik’s Promoter, Bob Arum, about having this fight take place at a catch weight or maybe even 168 pounds for the same amount of money. If that happens Taylor will give up the belts and this fight will even mean less. That would not be a good career move for Taylor as the fans would see it as a cop out, Taylor not wanting to loose his belts in the ring as a legit champion should.

    All I know is that this fight is one of the most talked about, anticipated fights of the year, ever since the knockout over Miranda, people have wanted to see Pavlik get a crack at Jermain Taylor. You can count on one hand the number of big fights or great match-up’s you want to see this year and with the huge build up to Oscar De La Hoya – Floyd Mayweather, JR., and the let down of it being over, we need a big fight to build up and give us that much needed adrenaline that we crave (that’s why we are boxing fans). This fight could be that fight. You have two explosive, undefeated fighters that can crack going toe to toe. The problem is this fight is not even signed yet and Jack Leow, Kelly Pavlik’s trainer, has said that they have no interest in leaving the middleweight division with no title. Plus they have already been told by the WBC that they will be fighting for a title in their next fight; whether it be against Jermain Taylor or someone else. Let’s just hope its Taylor.

    As of right now there are not that many big fights in the middleweight division. You have Allan “Sweetness” Green and Edison Miranda and a few guys that could come up from 154, but at this moment none are bigger in the publics’ eye or mine than Kelly Pavlik. This fight makes so much sense right now, and needs to happen. If only boxing were that simple and straight forward. No one wants to see Taylor fight the entire rest of the 154 pound men at 160. And unable to come to agreements with Winky Wright on a rematch (which probably will not happen now) this move up for Taylor could ruin and set the entire middleweight division in a sort of heavyweight division funk; considering he is the face of the division and Winky Wright is getting up there in age and has since lost to Bernard Hopkins. A serious question arises for all boxing fans, would it be better for Taylor to vacate the titles considering he is going to do it no matter what after this fight, or would it be to fight Pavlik and no matter what the verdict of that fight is, at least he took the fight and acted as a champion should. That is up for all of us to ask ourselves.

    Is this a fight you want to see? Should it be happening at all? Has Pavlik earned it? Is Taylor Looking for the easy way out by asking that the fight be held at 168? These are all big questions that will arise until the fight is signed and actually takes place. Until then we can sit back and wait for the build up to this fight and hope and pray it goes down like we want it to and that all the questions we ask ourselves get answered and that we have a clear middleweight champion.

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    A Gonzo Bet On Kelly Pavlik


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    Re: Taylor-Pavlik Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    The Moment of Truth: Jermain Taylor and Kelly Pavlik Face Off in Superfight
    By Mark Murray-September 18, 2007
    Ringside Report.com

    Jermain Taylor and Kelly Pavlik will square off in what promises to be a great battle which involves two highly recognized undefeated fighters facing off for both the WBC and WBO Middleweight Titles in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on Sept. 29th.

    Both fighters, although successful, come into the bout with totally different outlooks on the fight. For example, Jermain “Bad Intentions” Taylor, 27-0-1, 17 KO’s, is undefeated and has proved himself against all of his opponents remaining perfect, with the exception of his one draw with Winky Wright in 2006. Taylor continuously defeats great fighters such as Cory Spinks, Bernard Hopkins (twice) and Kassim Ouma, but doesn’t get the respect that he so deserves.

    In his split decision victory against Bernard Hopkins in 2005, most said that “The Executioner” legitimately won the close bout and even in defeating Hopkins again later in the same year, there were still no credit given to Taylor.

    The draw against Winky Wright caused much uproar from both fans as well as Winky Wright himself, and once again there were people doubting if Taylor was a legitimate champion.

    The man known as “Bad Intentions” dominated Kassim Ouma in December of last year but then went on to perform in a yawner in fighting Cory Spinks in May in which literally was one of the most boring fights I have ever seen.

    A combination of lackluster performances and controversial decisions has left Taylor with a big question mark above his head, a question mark of whether he is a legitimate champion. While there are question marks about Taylor there is certainly no doubt that he has defeated some great fighters. In defeating Bernard Hopkins not once, but twice, puts a lot of credibility, no matter how much controversy there was about the fights. Also keep in mind that Hopkins most recently fought and defeated Winky Wright, so you can draw your own conclusions from that.

    On the other hand enters the young and up and coming Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik, 31-0, 28 KO’s, who actually enters the fight with a better record and knock out percentage than Taylor, although he may not have faced as good of competition as Taylor.

    What impresses most about Pavlik is not only his great boxing skill but also his tremendous power. With twenty eight knockouts in thirty one fights, he has a great KO percentage for a fighter. He uses his lanky body to throw power shots as well as jab his opponents with his long reach.

    Although Pavlik has certainly defeated some good boxers on his resume, he achieved the most respect when he defeated the ferocious Edison “Pantera” Miranda in a WBC Middleweight Title Eliminator bout. Miranda came into the fight on the hunt for Jermain Taylor, even making a video, which can be seen on YouTube taunting Taylor and calling him a “Mickey Mouse Champion.” Miranda came into the fight fresh off victories against legitimate opponents in Allan Green and Willie Gibbs. Miranda also defeated the highly touted Howard Eastman. In his one loss, prior to the Pavlik fight, he was defeated IBF Middleweight Champion, Arthur Abraham, and in the loss he broke Abraham’s jaw.

    Therefore going into the fight, most thought that Miranda would tear through Pavlik with a vicious knockout victory. However this couldn’t be further from the truth. Pavlik started and finished the fight as if he were possessed. Miranda wasn’t the aggressor, Pavlik was, as he attacked Miranda throughout the fight and didn’t stop until he knocked him out in the seventh round of the bout. Pavlik seemed to surprise Miranda with his attacking style, almost mimicking Miranda’s style and adapting to Miranda’s style in order to defeat the dangerous Colombian fighter.

    Pavlik remained undefeated and gained a great amount of respect in defeating the dangerous Miranda. However, his bout with Taylor will be his most important and career defining fight.

    Both fighters fight from the orthodox position therefore they don’t have to worry about adapting to the southpaw fighting style. When Taylor attacks his opponents he throws long, hard shots which pack a lot of power. However Taylor can also fight patiently, as he most notably did in his first victory against Bernard Hopkins, pawing his jab and attacking when necessary. He also throws extremely solid jabs, which have stunned his opponents in the past and also throws extremely potent combination body shots, using both his left and right hands to rip shots at his opponent’s midsection.

    Much like Taylor, Pavlik also seems to throw long, hard shots towards his opponents. They are most definitely effective judging by his knockout percentage. Both fighters certainly aren’t known for their foot speed or hand speed, but Taylor would have the advantage in this department. Pavlik is relentless when he senses blood from his opponents, as he backs them against the ropes and throws vicious lefts and rights. A contrast in fighting styles is that Pavlik is a more aggressive fighter than Taylor. Jermain is aggressive when he feels he has an advantage with his opponents but Pavlik seems to be aggressive against his opponents at all times.

    Although the popular choice for this bout would be to choose Pavlik, coming off of an enormous victory against Edison Miranda, but I feel otherwise. Taylor’s successful fight experiences against superior opponents will help to prove Taylor’s superiority over Pavlik. Pavlik’s aggressive style will also hurt rather than help him in fighting Taylor, possibly leaving him open for big shots. “Bad Intentions” will give Pavlik his first loss which will come via late round knockout. With the victory Taylor will hopefully get the respect that he deserves.

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    Re: Taylor-Pavlik Pre-Fight Press & Predictions


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    Re: Taylor-Pavlik Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    Jermain Taylor – Kelly Pavlik: Moments of Truth
    By Daniel “Tex” Cohen-September 25, 2007

    At the end of this month, the battle for supremacy of the middleweights will bring the fans a fight of the highest expectations. In one corner stands the favorite son of Little Rock, Arkansas, in Undefeated WBC/WBO Champion Jermain Taylor, 27-0, 17 KO’s. Opposite of him is the ultimate physical specimen of this day and age in WBC Number One Contender and Youngstown, Ohio native Kelly Pavlik, 31-0, 28 KO’s.

    Taylor’s boxing burden rests in his recent performances against Cory Spinks and Kassim Ouma. He had little trouble with Ouma in a boring and one-sided fight in which he waltzed his way to a unanimous decision. While Taylor won the fight with ease, many would have expected a dominating knockout of the game but much smaller Ouma. Adding to the frustration of many boxing fans who were and still are expecting Taylor to be part of the collective bedrock of a sport badly in need of thrills is his sub par performance against Cory Spinks.

    Interestingly, the Spinks-Taylor fight’s unanimous decision in favor of Taylor was controversial inside the boxing world. It’s interesting, that is, that people could have such strong feelings about an event that practically never took place. Spinks showed off a spectacular collection of Michael Jackson dance moves in and out of the territory of the much bigger and stronger Taylor. Taylor stepped back and occasionally landed an ugly jab in the fight and wound up winning the pathetic total punch stats by a significant but laughable 101-85 margin. As a sign of the difficulty in judging the fight (rather than the corruption of the sport) the scores read as 117-111 and 115-113 for Taylor and 117-111 for Spinks.

    Pavlik is no Cory Spinks and fought no Cory Spinks in his last fight. He is coming off of a spectacular seven round shootout with the storied and powerful Edison Miranda. Miranda is known as one of the best pure power hitters in the game and owns on his record dominant victories over Allan Green and Howard Eastman, a first round knockout of Willie Gibbs and a controversial decision loss to IBF Middleweight Champion Arthur Abraham in which he broke the Armenian’s jaw. In spite of those credentials, Pavlik tore Miranda apart with sharp, straight, wearing shots that hardened and puffed the skin of his opponent until two sixth round knockdowns occurring from big right hands sent the fight tumbling toward its climactic ending. While Miranda was able to stand on shaky legs and enjoy the safety and comfort of the bell, it was all she wrote in the next round. Pavlik battered him into submission with roughly a minute left in the round and raised his arms in bloody and sensational triumph.

    This fight is an entirely different beast than any other on Taylor’s fight record. He has faced some of the best fighters and stood competitively against them. In 2004, Taylor knocked out Raul Marquez in the ninth round. A few matches later, he took two straight decisions against Bernard Hopkins and battled to a competitive draw with Pound for Pound Perennial Winky Wright.

    On the other hand, Taylor has shown various weaknesses in his game plan and flaws in his style. In spite of working with world class trainer Emanuel Steward, it seems that he still has trouble fighting when he comes forward and his left hand drapes dangerously below his waistline. These flaws are the perfect combination of chips in order to allow a fighter like Pavlik to bash a large crater in the hull of the boat. Edison Miranda is one of the best fighters in the world today when he is coming forward and Pavlik beat him at his own game with little problem. Since Pavlik will want to slug it out, the only way that Taylor can turn the battle of the styles to his benefit will be to stick and move. Beyond the fact that Taylor has not proven to be extraordinarily effective as the dancing type of fighter, it is nigh impossible to turn a brutal slugfest into a boxing match. Brawls are more easily made than clinics.

    While Marquez, Hopkins and Wright are all world class fighters, none of those men are focused on constantly coming forward with brutal power. While Marquez is known for good power, he is an all around boxer puncher. Hopkins and Wright are both defensive masterminds with Hopkins focused on working angles, clinching and performing body work while Wright throws his hard southpaw jab and concentrates of scientific covering of his vitalities.

    To his greatest advantage in the match up is his super piston jab. Taylor owns the record for the most jabs thrown in a middleweight and the second most ever landed in one with his performance against Alfredo Cuevas. If he can land the jab effectively in order to keep Pavlik out of his kitchen and makes sure to clinch on the inside, Taylor stands to carry a solid if not so entertaining victory against Pavlik.

    After the jab, Taylor’s best method of attack is to destroy the body of Pavlik. Taylor might not be able to his as hard or effectively as Pavlik from long range but he is equal in strength and might be able to slow him down enough to put him down. Pavlik has a great chin but there is a first time for everything and Taylor might be the strongest hitter that he has ever faced.

    Then again, Pavlik might be the hardest hitter Taylor has ever faced as well. He is certainly the roughest to ever square off with Edison Miranda. Pavlik’s best plan is to step on the gas pedal and not let up until he has achieved the desired result of Taylor on the mat. He cannot allow him to utilize the advantage early and become a well of frustration with sneaky telegraphing.

    As for the X-factors available, Taylor has been in the Pocono Mountains in Scotrun, Pennsylvania, with Emanuel Steward for a heavy duty training camp leading into the fight. Pavlik had horrible trouble making weight for his fight against Miranda and might encounter the same situation before this fight as he struggles to make the limit. Then again, this is the biggest fight in the life of either fighter and the likelihood that either misses the weight limit is very small.

    On top of that, Taylor has alluded to possible problems making weight himself and has stated that he will be moving to the super middleweight division once the fight ends. As for an X-factor within the X-factors, Taylor’s declaration that he will be moving in weight is a built-in excuse in case he loses the fight. Pavlik may be moving up in weight class as well but has not echoed the idea as of yet in his training.

    Taylor has never officially tasted the mat in a fight and the only time that Pavlik has ever been down was in the first round of his fight against Fulgencio Zuniga. He stormed back in that match to end the fight shortly after the ninth round. Both are battle-tested spirits with plenty on the line. The winner can stick around has the bargaining power to make a big money fight with Abraham or the winner of the mega fight between Joe Calzaghe and Mikkel Kessler. That makes for high stakes, two good chins, four hard-throwing arms and twelve rounds of solid dogfight slated for the night.

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    Re: Taylor-Pavlik Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    Jermain Taylor: Looking for respect

    By Robert Morales
    15Rounds.com

    Jermain Taylor is 27-0-1 with 17 knockouts, and he’s defended his two middleweight belts four times since he won them from Bernard Hopkins in July 2005.But he hasn’t exactly received a lot of kudos.

    Plenty of experts thought he lost his defense against Winky Wright, but he was able to retain his belts with a draw. Several in the know also thought Taylor never won the belts from Hopkins in the first place, but the judges did. And after a subsequent defense against Hopkins and the aforementioned push with Wright, Taylor had the audacity to defend his belts against former junior middleweight champions Kassim Ouma and Cory Spinks.

    Instead of respect, Taylor has for the most part received criticism for not living up to his potential, and for taking on a couple of little guys so he can perhaps keep possession of his belts just a little longer. Taylor on Monday was asked about all the unflattering talk about his career, and just how much it bothers him.

    “At first, it did,” Taylor said, “but it comes with the territory. I could have looked great against them (Ouma and Spinks), and still would have been criticized for whatever reasons. I can erase all of that with Kelly Pavlik and I plan on doing just that.”

    Bingo! That’s exactly what will happen if Taylor decisively defends his belts against the hard-hitting, top-ranked Pavlik on Saturday at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. (HBO will televise).

    Pavlik, see, is being picked by a lot of experts – including this one – to take Taylor’s two crowns. These days there are plenty of fighters who get ranked No. 1 by a governing body who are not deserving of such status. Pavlik is very deserving. The 25-year-old from Youngstown, Ohio, is 31-0 with 28 knockouts. In his last fight in May, he stopped another top contender, Edison Miranda, in the seventh round. Pavlik has stopped his past eight opponents. Taylor, on the other hand, has gone the distance in his past five fights. He can perhaps be forgiven for not stopping Hopkins or Wright, but he never even came close to stopping Ouma or Spinks inside the distance.

    Indeed, Taylor can shut up everyone with a clear victory over a fighter some are already putting in their top 10 pound-for-pound polls even though he hasn’t won a major title – yet.

    “I’m very motivated for this fight because a lot of people are picking Kelly to win this fight and I have taken a lot of negative hits lately,” Taylor said. “So, I’m very motivated to make a statement with this fight.”

    Part of the knock on Taylor is that he doesn’t appear to utilize his God-given ability to its fullest. One minute, he is staying busy and looking every bit the world champion that he is. The next he seems almost confused, as if he is having a hard time sustaining his rhythm. The feeling here is that Taylor, even at 29, has not yet reached his potential. But the answers he gave for this interview make one think that he just might be starting to get it. In other words, he knows he has underachieved, but there is no way in heck he is going to stop until he fulfills every ounce of promise.

    “I’m still learning as a professional fighter,” Taylor said. “I will be the first one to admit that. I just have to be patient and learn from my mistakes and continue to mature and better myself mentally and physically. Everything will fall into place for me. I’m confident of that.”

    Taylor might have something here. OK, so he hasn’t come off as a terrific middleweight champion. But he believes that fighting Hopkins back-to-back and then three consecutive left-handers in Wright, Ouma and Spinks is going to pay dividends in the long run. Fighting a tricky guy like Hopkins followed by a tricky lefty like Wright followed by the other two lefties was, in Taylor’s mind, all good. He may have looked discombobulated at times, but it is he who will reap the benefits.

    “Actually, fighting Bernard twice and Winky was great experience for me,” Taylor said. “Bernard and Winky are real professionals and I learned a lot fighting them, which was good experience I can put under my belt. I think fighting three southpaws back-to-back-to-back was a real adjustment for me. I can’t think of any fighter who has fought three southpaws in a row where they were all good fighters.”

    Taylor, of Little Rock, Ark., is a terrific guy. One would be hard-pressed to find an athlete who loves his home state the way he does.

    “I bleed Arkansas,” he said. “If you notice, I don’t have ‘Little Rock’ on my trunks, I have ‘Arkansas’ because home means a lot to me and I like representing my home state. It’s very important to me not to go home losing a fight. I know everyone loses sometimes, but that’s something I don’t want to think about.”

    Yes, Taylor is that athlete who loves everyone and is loved by everyone. Reporters might criticize his showing in the ring, but they could never get on him about his character because he treats people with respect and humility.

    But in this day and age, that doesn’t seem to go as far as it used to. Until Taylor goes into that ring foaming at the mouth, ready to take apart his opponent and show no mercy, he is going to be looked at with some disdain because he is not taking full advantage of his physical talents.

    Taylor can change all that Saturday. But in the minds of many, that’s not going to happen because Pavlik is loaded with talent as well as the disposition to put it to good use.

    The time is now for Taylor to make us appreciate him. The heat is on.

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    Re: Taylor-Pavlik Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    Pavlik to bring back hometown tradition
    By Robert morales
    sgvtribune


    First the city of Youngstown, Ohio, was forced to suffer through the decline of the steel industry in the late 1970s, a backslide from which it has never fully recovered. Now, the town of about 80,000 - also known for its terrific boxers - is in the throes of a 16-year drought without a world champion.

    Greg Richardson held a world bantamweight belt in 1991, and he is the last Youngstown-raised fighter to hold such status.

    Other champions before him were lightweights Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini and Harry Arroyo and cruiserweight Jeff Lampkin. Other world-class fighters included 1970s heavyweight Earnie Shavers - who was actually from nearby Warren - and middleweight Tony Janiro, who took on Jake LaMotta, Rocky Graziano and Kid Gavilan in the 1940s and 1950s.

    Indeed, Youngstown has a rich boxing tradition. To say that Kelly Pavlik is feeling the squeeze to bring back some championship notoriety to his precious city would be an understatement. On Saturday, he will be trying to do just that when he challenges Jermain Taylor for his two middleweight championship belts at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. HBO Will televise.

    On Wednesday morning, Pavlik spoke with the Press-Telegram via telephone minutes before he took the dais at a New York City news conference promoting the much-anticipated fight. It was just the night before that a Youngstown radio station encouraged listeners to go to Pavlik's house and wish him luck.
    Hundreds showed up on his front lawn to offer their support.

    "Right now, Youngstown's not doing too good, you know, economically or anything; the crime rate ...," Pavlik said. "But we have mayor Jay Williams (the city's first African American mayor) in there now, who's doing a great job in reviving Youngstown. Downtown's starting to build back up; he's doing a good job with that.

    "So, yeah, there is a big amount of pressure. Mancini, Lampkin and Richardson, they all came up in the early 80s, mid-80s and there hasn't been nothing since then. I just think that, especially now that Youngstown's been struggling a little bit, you know, there's pressure to bring it back to all the fans who want to see something positive come back to the area."

    Pavlik, just 25, said the town is embracing his title shot with gusto.

    "Yeah, it's huge," he said. "Every day they've been just plastering between the news stations and newspapers. They're even doing like a poster thing in the windows. Whoever has my poster up, they get a free 42-inch TV installed for free the night of the fight. It's really neat to see. Like I said earlier, there hasn't been really much in Youngstown. I'm just glad to see that Youngstown's coming together."

    It's not exactly common for a city the size of Youngstown to produce so many world-class fighters. Pavlik wasn't really sure why it is that his city has been so blessed. Then again, he might have hit the nail on the head when trying to explain it.

    "For as small as it is, it's just a hard question to answer," he said. "It's just a hard-nosed city in all sports. We've got about six or seven guys out of that small city, that town, that play in the NFL. Baseball, in the major leagues, there's about three people.

    "So, I don't know. It's just hard work and hard-nosed athletes."

    You want hard-nosed? That's Pavlik in a nut-shell. He comes right at every opponent and is one of those exciting fighters who will take some punishment in order to give some. So far, he has been able to dole out much more than he has taken, as his record of 31-0 with 28 knockouts attests.

    If there was any doubt about Pavlik's prowess in the ring, it was put to rest in May when the No. 1 contender stopped fellow top contender Edison Miranda in the seventh round of a hard-hitting slugfest. That victory right there has given many experts - including this one - reason to pick him to dethrone Taylor on Saturday.

    Interestingly, Pavlik said it was a sixth-round technical knockout of former junior middleweight champion Bronco McKart in July 2006 that convinced him that he was for real.

    "There is always one of those fights that gives you that confidence," Pavlik said. "I would say after the Bronco McKart fight, that was definitely icing on the cake."

    Pavlik, who has eight consecutive knockouts, then stopped Lenord Pierre in the fourth round, tough Jose Luis Zertuche in the eighth at Honda Center in Anaheim and Miranda.

    "And then, of course, you go in there against hard-nosed fighters like Zertuche and not only beat them, but the way I beat Zertuche and Miranda, that's a big confidence builder," he said.

    Pavlik on Taylor

    Pavlik said that Taylor, who is 27-0-1 with 17 knockouts, has plenty of flaws that he plans on exploiting.

    "When he jabs, his hands come down," Pavlik said. "When he throws his right, he lunges in with his head. He's a little wide (with his punches) and he's a little off-balance.

    "Those are the things he's going to have (to watch) when he's got a lot of punches coming back at him."

    A lot of hard punches. But Taylor on Monday told the Press-Telegram that he is unfazed by Pavlik's tremendous punching power.

    "He has a pretty good punch, but it will take more than that to win this fight," said Taylor, 29, of Little Rock, Ark.

    Moreover, Taylor said, he is not even concerned that Pavlik could be his most difficult opponent yet, Bernard Hopkins and Winky Wright notwithstanding.

    "That's not on my mind if Kelly will be a tough opponent or not," Taylor said. "My focus is on how tough and prepared I'm going to be for this fight."

    Amateur past

    Pavlik and Taylor boxed each other in the 2000 Olympic Trials.

    Pavlik was 17 and Taylor was 21. Taylor emerged victorious.

    "For the most part, it was a really good fight," Pavlik said. "He did win, but it was just the amateur scoring system. But that's a night-and-day difference. I've heard (Taylor's trainer) Emanuel Steward and Taylor mention a couple of times about that fight. If that's what they're going off of, I hope they are."

    Pavlik's plan

    "We're going to be putting the attack on like we did with Miranda and Zertuche," Pavlik said. "But we're going to bring a couple of different things. More head movement. A lot more hand speed. ... We're fighting a guy who's strong and comes straight down the middle. So we're going to be able to use our footwork and head movement, too."

    Pavlik wouldn't predict how he expects the fight to end, other than to say he will win.

    "It's awesome to be in this situation," he said. "It's finally here. We made it to this point, now we just gotta make the best of it."

    Ponce De Leon-Lopez

    Super bantamweight champion Daniel Ponce De Leon of Mexico will take on Reynaldo Lopez (28-4-2, 19 KOs) of Colombia on

    Friday in a non-title fight at the Morongo Casino in Cabazon.

    Ponce De Leon (32-1, 29 KOs) is coming off a first-round technical knockout of Rey "Boom Boom" Bautista in a title defense in August in Sacramento.

    Telefutura, a Spanish-language station, will televise.

    Dawson-Mendoza

    Chad Dawson will defend his light heavyweight championship against Epifanio Mendoza on Saturday at Arco Arena in Sacramento.

    Showtime will televise.

    Dawson, 25, is from New Haven, Conn. He will be attempting to make the second defense of his title. He is 24-0 with 16 knockouts.

    Mendoza, 31, is from Colombia. He sports a record of 28-4-1 with 24 knockouts.

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    Re: Taylor-Pavlik Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    Quote Originally Posted by TKO Tom
    When did you go to the Southside Boxing Club to write that article?

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    Re: Taylor-Pavlik Pre-Fight Press & Predictions


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    Re: Taylor-Pavlik Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    From Pavlik's hometown Youngstown Vindicator.

    http://www.vindy.com/content/sports/...4578683731.php


    Taylor's camp talking a knockout of Pavlik
    Print StoryEmail to FriendDiscuss this story



    By MICHAEL WOODS

    SPECIAL TO THE VINDICATOR

    NEW YORK — As Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward talked smack at the podium at the final press conference before Saturday's middleweight title fight between champion Jermain Taylor and Kelly Pavlik, the Youngstown resident's face didn't betray any emotion.

    Pavlik (31-0, 28 KOs) didn't flinch or fume when Steward, the best-known trainer in the sport, went out on a limb and predicted that Taylor would win by a knockout.

    Pavlik, who arrived in New York Wednesday morning, and will engage in some light running the next couple days to stay limber and to keep his weight near the 160-pound limit, stayed cool during Steward's pointed commentary at BB King's Blues Club in Manhattan on Wednesday afternoon.

    Predicts knockout

    "If you all respect me so much, then respect my prediction," Steward said to the gathered media. "Jermain Taylor will knock out Kelly Pavlik. I've never had a fighter in better condition for a fight, [Julio Cesar] Chavez, Oscar De La Hoya, Wladimir Klitschko, [Evander] Holyfield, mentally and physically. [Hagler, Sugar Ray Leonard, Ray Robinson, those guys wouldn't want to fight Jermain."

    Pavlik was asked if the Steward slams got under his skin, or if he was actually as chill as he looked.

    "Manny was trying to give his guy a boost of self confidence," he said. "They're desperate, looking for an advantage. I flat laughed. I know what they're trying to do."

    The 6-21/2 boxer, who goes by the nickname "The Ghost," will be on the biggest stage of his seven-year pro career. He'll be fighting on "free" HBO, against the WBC middleweight titlist who's been in with some of the game's greats, including Bernard Hopkins, Winky Wright and Cory Spinks.


    Taylor has struggled

    Taylor, a 29-year-old from Little Rock, Ark., hasn't lost as a pro, though he hasn't looked spectacular in his last five outings. In that span, he hasn't notched a knockout, so Steward's call is a bold one. Pavlik didn't ramp up his smack-talk in response to the Steward rips. Instead, he shared his plan of attack for Saturday evening at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

    "I'll do my talking with my fists," he said. "I won't freeze up on Saturday, because I train too hard. I have to give credit to myself, to my focus. I'll throw a lot of punches, use head movement. My sparring partners' are faster than Taylor. I'm not going to be a sitting target."

    Pavlik said he won't take Taylor lightly or dismiss his power because "Bad Intentions" hasn't earned a KO since 2005.

    "He's strong, a big middleweight," Pavlik said. "We don't look past his KO ratio. I'll keep my hands up and stay focused."

    Pavlik's trainer, Jack Loew, seemed to take Steward's bold statements a bit more to heart than his fighter. Loew thinks Taylor is a less challenging opponent than the last two men Pavlik has beaten, Jose Luis Zertuche and Edison Miranda.

    Lowe confident

    "I'm more confident coming in to this fight than I was against Zertuche or Miranda," he said. "Taylor is basic, he hasn't changed since he was an amateur. He drops his hands, sticks his chin out. He hasn't looked better since Emanuel got him."

    That Taylor couldn't put smaller men, like Spinks, and Kassim Ouma, down on the canvas shows Loew his power is negligible.

    "You got to take Cory Spinks out, watch what Kelly would do to little guys like that," Loew said.

    His fighter seemed eager to finish the hyping-sessions, and ready to decide conclusively who the best middleweight in the world is, in the ring.

    "I'm ready to get the show on," he said. "I'm ready to get in the ring and let my hands go."

    Will he predict a KO win, as Steward did?

    "I don't predict a knockout, I do predict a win," Pavlik said. "No matter what way I get the win, I'll take it."

    Michael Woods is a writer for ESPN The Magazine, ESPN.com and editor of thesweetscience.com.
    Last edited by OMG65; 09-27-2007 at 10:46 AM.

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    Re: Taylor-Pavlik Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    Taylor-Pavlik: A Rarer Treat Than You Realize

    By Cliff Rold

    Two undefeated fighters doing battle is always something special. The sense that two warriors, neither knowing how to lose, will give the sport, the night, a little more of themselves in pursuit of victory palpably hangs in the air, an extra ingredient to the recipe for assumed violence.

    29-year old World Middleweight champion Jermain Taylor (27-0-1, 17 KO) of Little Rock, Arkansas and electrifying contender Kelly Pavlik (31-0, 27 KO, #3 Ring Magazine, age 25) of Youngstown, Ohio both enter the ring this Saturday without having suffered defeat. In this storied division, it is a rarer quality in championship fare than one might assume.

    In fact, only one other time have two men without a loss done battle for the true middleweight crown.

    That’s a testament to how hard it’s been to climb this particular mountain. When one considers the epic proportions of middleweight kings past, men like “The Nonpareil” Jack Dempsey, Harry Greb, Carlos Monzon, Marvin Hagler and a man named Robinson, being undefeated might not be all it’s cracked to be.

    It’s nothing to sneeze at either.

    In conversation earlier this week, Taylor promoter Lou DiBella was certainly excited about the possibilities. “This is a classic matchup. Two young, undefeated fighters; a guy that is the only legitimate linear Middleweight champion fighting a number one contender with a tremendous amount of power.”

    Adding to this dimension is that, in the history of the gloved middleweight division, only 3 men have even reached the undisputed, lineal throne without suffering at least a single loss. Taylor is one of those men.

    The other two locked horns on May 10, 1991.

    Read the Rest at: http://www.boxingscene.com/?m=show&id=10516

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    Re: Taylor-Pavlik Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    Quote Originally Posted by Crold1
    Taylor-Pavlik: A Rarer Treat Than You Realize

    By Cliff Rold

    Two undefeated fighters doing battle is always something special. The sense that two warriors, neither knowing how to lose, will give the sport, the night, a little more of themselves in pursuit of victory palpably hangs in the air, an extra ingredient to the recipe for assumed violence.

    29-year old World Middleweight champion Jermain Taylor (27-0-1, 17 KO) of Little Rock, Arkansas and electrifying contender Kelly Pavlik (31-0, 27 KO, #3 Ring Magazine, age 25) of Youngstown, Ohio both enter the ring this Saturday without having suffered defeat. In this storied division, it is a rarer quality in championship fare than one might assume.

    In fact, only one other time have two men without a loss done battle for the true middleweight crown.

    That’s a testament to how hard it’s been to climb this particular mountain. When one considers the epic proportions of middleweight kings past, men like “The Nonpareil” Jack Dempsey, Harry Greb, Carlos Monzon, Marvin Hagler and a man named Robinson, being undefeated might not be all it’s cracked to be.

    It’s nothing to sneeze at either.

    In conversation earlier this week, Taylor promoter Lou DiBella was certainly excited about the possibilities. “This is a classic matchup. Two young, undefeated fighters; a guy that is the only legitimate linear Middleweight champion fighting a number one contender with a tremendous amount of power.”

    Adding to this dimension is that, in the history of the gloved middleweight division, only 3 men have even reached the undisputed, lineal throne without suffering at least a single loss. Taylor is one of those men.

    The other two locked horns on May 10, 1991.

    Read the Rest at: http://www.boxingscene.com/?m=show&id=10516
    The best column I've seen on the board so far.

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    Pavlik takes a gamble

    Unbeaten middleweight will be trying to take Taylor's crown in Atlantic City
    By Lem Satterfield, Special to The Times
    September 29, 2007

    ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Atlantic City doesn't necessarily bode well for up-and-coming boxers from Youngstown, Ohio.

    Ray Mancini was unbeaten in 20 bouts when he lost a lightweight title fight to Alexis Arguello in 1981 in his Atlantic City debut. Harry Arroyo was also unbeaten when he lost his lightweight title to Jimmy Paul in Atlantic City in 1985.

    Tonight, Youngstown's Kelly Pavlik makes his Atlantic City debut. And he's hoping that the third time, for a fighter from Youngstown, will be the charm.

    A 25-year-old middleweight with 28 knockouts among his 31 wins without a loss, Pavlik will look to separate Jermain Taylor (27-0-1, 17 KOs) from his senses, as well as his World Boxing Council and World Boxing Organization crowns.

    "I've spoken to Harry Arroyo a couple of times," said Pavlik, who was 2 when Arroyo lost to Paul, and wasn't born when Mancini fell to Arguello.

    "Mancini still is a celebrity around town. My trainer [Jack Loew] is very good friends with him. When he comes to town, we talk a little bit," said Pavlik, who is expected to make a career-high $1.25 million against Taylor.

    "I was on a local radio show last Thursday, and Mancini called in," Pavlik said. "He told me some things about keeping your focus. He said, 'Jermain has fought in plenty of world title fights,' and, 'Don't lose your composure.' "

    The overwhelming edge in experience lies with Taylor: Seven of Taylor's last eight opponents have been present or former world champions, including William Joppy, Bernard Hopkins, Winky Wright and Cory Spinks. And the eighth, Daniel Edouard, was stopped by Taylor in the third round.

    But Loew -- who has known the challenger since he first laced on gloves at the age of 10 -- said his fighter won't lose his cool despite being in the biggest fight of his career.

    "Kelly's one of the most relaxed guys. When we fought [Jose Luis] Zertuche, I was so nervous," Loew said, referring to Pavlik's eighth-round knockout victory two fights ago. "I'm supposed to be calming him down in the locker room, but Kelly was the one who was like, 'Hey, man, Jack, relax, everything is going to be fine.' "

    The same thing happened before Pavlik's last bout, an eight-round slugfest in which Pavlik stopped the highly regarded Edison Miranda.

    "In Memphis, for the last fight, yet again, I was so nervous against Miranda," Loew said. "But Kelly's sitting in a chair with his feet up, and said, again, 'What are you guys so nervous about?' "

    Pavlik, promoter Bob Arum's first middleweight prospect since undisputed champion Marvin Hagler reigned into the mid-1980s, feels as if he proved himself against Miranda.

    "I got caught with a couple of punches by Miranda in the fifth round that were flush, and I think that right there, I showed that hard punches ain't gonna hurt me," Pavlik said.

    "But thanks to my critics, Miranda went from being a beast to a guy who stunk and couldn't fight. I believe that Jermain thinks that I'm going to be right in front of him, and that he can just throw a punch and hit me. That just gives me motivation. And once Jermain gets hit by me, that will change his mind about a lot of things."

    Pavlik's nickname, "The Ghost," as well as his toughness, are born of being "ridiculed by black fighters in the amateurs," who "thought Pavlik was white as a ghost," said Joe Santoliquito, managing editor of Ring Magazine.

    "All of the black kids wanted to face the white kid because they thought Kelly Pavlik was an easy mark," Santoliquito said. "Pavlik dealt with mocking gestures and taunts, took his share of grief. Pavlik always received veiled disrespect, and because of it, he became stronger."

    Lou DiBella, Taylor's promoter, admitted that much of Pavlik's hype is "because he's white."

    Pavlik won't be facing an unfamiliar opponent: He and Taylor once met as amateurs in the 2000 U.S. Olympic trials.

    "I remember it was a pretty good fight, and he won, fair and square," Pavlik said. "But it was my fourth or fifth open tournament, and I was about 17. And he was like 21 or 22 with a ton of amateur fights."

    The fighters' training methods have been decidedly different. Taylor, in his third fight with Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward, has, for the first time, taken his preparation into the hills, spending the last six or seven weeks in the Poconos.

    Pavilk, meanwhile, has elected to stay in his hometown for easy access to parks, health clubs, personal trainers and, especially, the Southside Boxing Club -- where he first met Loew as a youth.

    Pavlik's training methods are unusual, to say the least, including some that involve fire hoses, chains, flat boards and tractor trailer tires.

    The fire hoses, dangling from the ceiling, are used for pull-ups, Pavlik said. "We grip them, and you do pull-ups until you can't do them any more. And then, you just hang there, strengthening your forearms."

    The chains? "They hang from a bench. And you put your hands into the little slots, and you do push-ups."

    As for the tires, Pavlik wraps his arms around them "for squats. It's for strengthening your legs and your back," he said. "And then we have these boards, and they're set to wobble, so that when you stand on them, you're testing your balance."

    Pavlik's sparring sessions have been conventional, "with guys who are big, strong and faster than Taylor," Pavlik said. "Jermain has some flaws and we plan to take advantage of them."

    Pavlik believes Taylor expects him to walk straight into the champion's jab, which the challenger calls "not the greatest -- he pushes it a lot."

    "Jermain is wide with a lot of punches, especially when he misses. With Jermain, it's as if, when he lifts one thing on his body, he's dropping the other," Pavlik said. "His hands are down a lot. And I'm going to throw so many punches, like 80 or 90 a round, that Jermain won't be able to keep up."

    And Loew said Pavlik won't be alone in Atlantic City: Many of his Youngstown fans are expected to be cheering from ringside.

    "I've heard from some figures around town that it's real close to 5,000 or better with the magnitude of this fight," Loew said.

    "Kelly's a real people person, and, I believe, the darling of boxing right now. And when he steps into the ring on Saturday night, it's going to be just like he's right here at home," Loew said. "Jermain Taylor's going to have his hands full."


    FIGHT FACTS
    * Who: WBC, WBO

    middleweight champion

    Jermain Taylor (27-0-1, 1 7KOs) vs. Kelly Pavlik (31-0, 28 KOs) .

    * Where: Atlantic City, N.J.

    * When: Tonight, 7:15 p.m. PDT, HBO

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    Pavlik stops Taylor to win middleweight titles

    Ed Mulholland / US Presswire
    Challenger Kelly Pavlik rallied to knock out previously unbeaten middleweight champion Jermain Taylor on Saturday night in Atlantic City, N.J.
    Challenger becomes the WBC and WBO middleweight champion with stunning victory.

    By Lem Satterfield, Special to The Times
    September 30, 2007
    ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- After the second round, Kelly Pavlik staggered back to his corner on unsteady legs.

    The 25-year-old challenger from Youngstown, Ohio, plumped down on his stool, having been hammered to the canvas by some 15 to 18 unanswered blows from champion Jermain Taylor, and was asked by his trainer, a father figure who has known him since age 9, "Are you OK?" and "can you continue?"

    Pavlik bravely answered to the affirmative.

    "I told him I was shaky. I was hurt real bad," Pavlik said. "But I told him that I wanted to continue."

    Five rounds later, Pavlik validated trainer Jack Loew's decision.

    Behind on all cards, and having taken several hard left hooks and right hands, Pavlik scored his 29th knockout in his 32nd career victory without a loss, lifting from Taylor (27-1, 17 knockouts), the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Organization middleweight titles.

    Referee Steve Smoger came to the rescue at 2:14 of the round, saying Taylor was "out cold" on the ropes in Pavlik's corner, oblivious to the 10,127 fans in the Boardwalk Hall.

    "It was a great fight, but now I'm the champ," said Pavlik, who trailed, 59-54, on one card and 58-55 on the other two.

    He told his fans, "Thank you," and, "I love you," on a microphone while still in the ring

    At ringside were ex-champions and Youngstown natives Ray Mancini and Harry Arroyo.

    Mancini and Arroyo had lost their first bouts in Atlantic City years earlier; the former by a knockout against Alexis Arguello in 1981, and the latter, by decision to Jimmy Paull in 1985.

    "I told Kelly this was about the mental aspect," Mancini said as he entered the Boardwalk Hall arena, where he was introduced to the crowd. "It's about keeping his composure, I said, not losing your head, no matter what."

    In vanquishing Taylor by knockout, Pavlik did what none had done before. Taylor had gone 24 rounds with Bernard Hopkins; and 12 each with former world champions Winky Wright, Kasim Ouma and Cory Spinks.

    "I feel honored to be among all of the great champions from Youngstown," said Pavlik, who was told to "go back to the double-jab" against Taylor.

    Taylor acknowledged he was fading at the time of the stoppage.

    "I thought I had him in the second round, but I think I threw too many punches," said Taylor, 29.

    "After I had him down, Kelly fought a great fight. But later in the fight, I thought I was losing so I wasted a lot of energy trying to finish him off."

    Taylor, who earned $4.5 million to Pavlik's $1.25 million, said he would like a rematch with Pavlik.

    The rematch clause in their contract calls for one, "and I want it, right away," Taylor said.

    "Kelly's a big puncher, but I can't believe that I lost," Taylor said.

    "But it's all about going back to the drawing board. I'd like to fight him in my very first fight back."


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    Taylor-Pavlic Result & Discussion 9/29/07

    Pavlik-Taylor post fight presser!

    September 30, 2007

    By Matt Richardson / Photos: Jeff Julian
    Fightnews.com

    “It was one of the best middleweight fights that I’ve seen,” promoter Bob Arum succinctly said of Kelly Pavlik’s seventh round knockout of Jermain Taylor to win the middleweight crown Saturday night in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

    “Right now I think it’s second to Hagler-Hearns. This is the biggest blow to UFC since this sort of competition began,” Arum said.

    “All the young kids are going to come back to boxing,” he added.

    “It was another fight where I showed my heart,” said new champ Pavlik, still unbeaten at 32-0, 28 KO’s.

    “He (Taylor) came to fight. He has speed and a punch,” Pavlik said. “It just turned out all good. We’re not done yet. We’ve got a lot more exciting fights coming up.”

    Whether or not one of those fights includes a rematch with Taylor remains to be seen.

    “I definitely want a rematch,” said a classy Taylor afterwards. “I think Kelly’s a great fighter and I would love another shot.”

    “I take my hat off to him. He got knocked down and came back,” said the former champion.

    “If Jermain wants it, I’m ready,” Pavlik said of a rematch.

    Arum, however, spoke of both men taking interim fights before going into an immediate rematch. One possibility could see Pavlik going to New York City to defend the belt against John Duddy on Saint Patricks Day eve in 2008.

    Taylor, 27-1-1, 17 KO’s does have a rematch clause in the contract though if he elects to go that route.

    “We’re not going to make any decisions tonight,” said an obviously disappointed Lou DiBella, Taylor’s long-time promoter.

    “It probably shouldn’t come right away,” Arum concurred. “I think it would be silly to do an immediate rematch.”

    The savage nature of the bout and the potential money involved in a rematch however dictates that it will probably occur sooner rather than later.

    JABZ

    -Probably the most controversial element of the night was when Taylor told the media that trainer Emanuel Steward was telling him he was losing the fight. At the time of the knockout Taylor was ahead on all three official scorecards (59-54, 58-55, 58-55) as well as most of those at ringside. So why did Steward tell his charge they were losing?

    “In any close fight I always think that way,” said the trainer.

    “Pavlik fought an extremely, extremely determined fight,” Steward said. “It was one of the greatest fights I’ve ever seen. It was a very exciting fight. Unfortunately we lost but we take our hat off to Kelly Pavlik.”

    “I never though Kelly had that much speed,” Steward said. “The skill level surprised me too.”

    -Don’t be surprised to see the popular Pavlik take his act on the road. He had a large group of fans make the trek from Youngstown, Ohio to root their man on. A title defense in the mid-west then is a natural choice.

    “I think that’s great,” said Arum. “I want to build up that following. That’s obviously a great possibility.”

    “It’s going to take some time to kick in,” Pavlik said of winning the belt, “but it feels awesome.”

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    Re: Taylor-Pavlic Result & Discussion 9/29/07

    I thought I would post this article here since Smoger ref the above fight
    Steve Smoger: Boxing’s Invisible Man
    By Adam Berlin
    Fightbeat.com

    When he’s doing it right, the third man in the ring is invisible.

    A referee should be a spectator first, watching the action closely, seeing that no fouls are committed, making sure neither fighter gets badly hurt. When the referee enters the action, when paying spectators shift from watching the fight to watching the man watching the fight, there needs to be a clear, definitive reason. Like moths with big egos, too many referees are drawn to those hot lights shining down on the ring—feeling the spotlight, they want to be in the spotlight. When this happens, boxing gets burned. The moment a referee imposes his will and his personality on a fight, the natural ebb and flow of the bout is broken, the fighters lose their rhythms, the invisible becomes too visible. Boxing fans pay to see two men in the ring, not a third man in the ring. And fans pay to see fighters fight.

    Steve Smoger has a reputation for letting fighters fight. It’s not that he believes safety should take a back seat to entertainment; it’s that he understands professional fighters are trained to absorb punishment. At its core, boxing is a hurting business, so stopping a fight too soon is as great a sin as letting a fight go too long. Smoger is no sinner.

    The last big fight Steve Smoger refereed is a perfect case in point. This May, when Edison Miranda stepped in against Kelly Pavlik, everyone expected a war. And when Steve Smoger signaled the fight to begin, fight fans knew that if war broke out, this referee would let it be waged, completely. Miranda came out blasting. Pavlik blasted back harder, schooling the tough man from Colombia. Miranda was stunned several times, but he was still in the fight, and he still had a puncher’s chance. Veteran fighters don’t lose their cool when they’re hurt. Veteran referees don’t lose their cool at the first sight of hurt.

    Miranda has gunpowder in his arms, ammunition in his fists and it was only fair that he be allowed to battle to the end. The end came in round seven. Dazed, badly hurt, down for the third time and fully beaten, Miranda was done. With clear, experienced, measured eyes, Smoger saw what he needed to see and waved the fight off. It’s a testament to Steve Smoger’s skill that when he waves his hands, the crowd rarely boos.

    The last time I saw Smoger referee in person was when John Duddy took on Anthony Bonsante in the Theater At Madison Square Garden. Instead of being bloodied in this bout, tough guy Duddy bloodied Bonsante. But Bonsante is a tough guy too. The cut bothered The Contender star, yet he seemed more disgusted than hurt. And while Bonsante was beaten handily in the early rounds, he rallied in the sixth and fought bravely, though bloodily, into the ninth until too many crimson quarts had spilled.

    A lesser referee would have stopped the fight sooner. But Smoger let the fight run its course. Bonsante was handling the blood. He still had enough energy to rally in the sixth. And in boxing, like in no other sport, it really ain’t over ‘til it’s over. Losing fighters gain literal last-second reprieves in the ring. The walkaway knockout is not just ring lore, but ring reality. From the judge’s bench (Smoger was a D.A. in Atlantic City and a judge) to the boxing canvas, Smoger understands the possibility of redemption. He grants each fighter the chance to make his case.

    On September 23, Steve Smoger will celebrate his 25th anniversary in boxing. It was on this day in 1982 when he was officially licensed by the New Jersey State Athletic Commission, headed by then-commissioner Jersey Joe Walcott. September 23 was a significant date because it marked the 30-year anniversary of Walcott’s legendary first fight with Rocky Marciano. Smoger was literally on his daddy’s knee at that fight, and while he was far too young to remember the bout, he always told Jersey Joe that he wished he had been old enough to appreciate the historic match. Walcott loved the story and chose that date to license Smoger as a boxing official.

    Smoger, veteran of 126 title fights, maintains a strict training regimen to keep himself physically and mentally fit for work in the ring. “If these fighters can train for their participation, I can train for mine. I take it that seriously.” He works out. He watches what he eats. He attends medical seminars. He truly follows the sport. And from his years of training, Smoger has developed his own philosophy about how to prepare for an upcoming fight. Unlike some referees, who prefer to go into a fight knowing nothing about the fighters, judging each fight as a work in progress, Smoger likes to study the fighters he’ll be working with. “I want to know every aspect of a fighter that I can. I review records. I view tapes that I might have. I want to know their resiliency and strategy. Is he a bleeder? Is he resilient? When I’m in the ring, I don’t want to over-react or under-react. Knowledge is power.”

    To over-react or to under-react—that is the fine line, a line of high stakes and heavy repercussions, that referees must toe during every single fight. By knowing each fighter’s weaknesses and strengths, Smoger can insure that the fighters working under his watchful eye will be given every opportunity to showcase their skills and, most importantly, to prevail. Talking with Smoger, I clearly heard, beneath his words, the respect and love he has for fighters. It’s as if he has put himself in their boxing shoes. He wants them to fight their best fight. He wants them to have every chance they can possibly have to emerge victorious. And of course he wants to protect them at all times. He’s so empathetic, so aware of what a fighter must be going through before a fight, that he makes sure all pre-fight questions about rules and regulations are answered in the dressing room and not in the ring. “In the ring, it’s time to get the fight going,” Smoger says. When it’s time for business, he makes sure fighters only have to focus on the business at hand.

    Fighting is serious business. Refereeing needs to be equally serious. “You can never unstop a fight. I am guided by that principal when I move in. Knowing full well that I can never unstop a fight, with safety uppermost, I move in when a fighter has given all he or she has. My biggest compliment is when the loser’s corner tells me ‘You gave my fighter every opportunity to win.’” In fact, Smoger treats a 4-round fight and a 12-round title bout the same. “A four-round loss will always be on the record.”

    Don Elbaum, the veteran matchmaker, agrees with this philosophy that every preliminary is a “championship” fight, and praises Smoger as a man who strictly practices what he preaches. “I met Steve at the Tropicana and we sat down and had a lot of talks about boxing. I told him that one of the biggest problems with referees is that they run scared. You can’t. Scared refs don’t make competent refs. This is professional boxing. You have to give fighters every chance. In no time, I said, ‘Steve, you’re a referee.’ He’s a natural. A real natural. If there’s one guy in boxing that has the sixth sense to stop a fight, it’s Steve Smoger.” High praise from a man that knows everything there is to know about boxing.

    From boxing veterans to young men in boxing, Smoger is revered. Up-and-coming Philadelphia heavyweight “Fast” Eddie Chambers fought under Smoger’s care when Chambers beat Robert Hawkins for the IBU Heavyweight title and the vacant Pennsylvania State Heavyweight title. Chambers says of Smoger, “He’s very fair. He lets fighters fight. Too many refs want to control the action too much. He doesn’t put himself into the fight. Other than that, he’s good at jumping in on a foul. He doesn’t take points off too quickly. I’d want to have him in all my fights.” Again, high praise. Controls fouls. Doesn’t deduct unnecessary points. Doesn’t insert himself into the spotlight. And the one phrase that has become the echo for Steve Smoger’s refereeing career--he lets fighters fight.

    On his most exciting fight, and Smoger has refereed plenty, he recalls the Simon Brown/Tyrone Trice fight for the vacant IBF welterweight title. “That was my coming-out party. I allowed Trice to continue after going down hard in the 9th. I made the decision to allow him to continue after he was hurt. He weathered the storm, he fought valiantly for five more rounds, and he finally faltered in the 14th. But he gave me five more rounds.” He gave Smoger five more rounds. He gave the fans five more rounds. And, most importantly, Trice gave himself five more rounds, rounds where he could have prevailed. Instead of a 9-round battle, the Brown/Trice fight was a 14-round war, and when all is said and done, the fight went down as a classic, something both the winner and the loser will cherish, an epic contest that was allowed to be epic. The fight was voted the CBS and IBF Fight of the Year. And that fight, like so many of the fights he officiated, led to many accolades for Smoger, including being inducted into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame in 1997 and being cited in 2001-2002 as Ring Magazine’s top-ranked referee in the world.

    Smoger still feels like a young referee and his nimble footwork, clear-eyed attention and split-second assessments show that, after twenty-five years, he’s still at the top of his game. Younger referees often come to him for advice, which serves to remind him of his veteran status. “They ask me to see if anything they’re doing needs work. I’ll give them some tidbits. I’ll tell them to work closer.” A life-long student of the game, Smoger is now a teacher of the game. Hopefully, these up-and-coming referees will learn by example, by watching Smoger as he carefully works his craft in the ring, by understanding the importance of letting a fighter fight.

    Boxing will always have controversy and many of these controversies will involve judgment calls made by referees. It takes balls to step into the squared circle with gloves on, but it also takes balls to step in without gloves—overseeing the fighters’ safety is usually a thankless job. Fans often criticize referees from the safe distance of their ringside seats. Fighters often blame referees for their losses. Rarely are referees appreciated. But next time you don’t see a referee, next time you only see two fighters fighting, chances are the invisible man, Steve Smoger, will be the third man in the ring.

    “Refereeing is the art of judgment and movement in the ring. It’s the essence of when to say when.” Steve Smoger knows when. And only then, at that precise moment when the fight is really over, will boxing’s invisible man appear. Only then.

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    Re: Taylor-Pavlic Result & Discussion 9/29/07



    Kelly Pavlik when he stopped Daniel Neal at the Aragon Ballroom in 2005

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    Fighter Of The Year --kelly Pavlik

    By Michael Swann

    Mark it down. New WBC/WBO/ Ring Magazine middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik will be the Fighter of the Year. His action filled, exciting knockouts over Jose Luis Zertuche in eight rounds in January, his dismantling of Edison Miranda in a seventh round TKO in May, and now his spectacular TKO in seven this past Saturday over Jermain Taylor make that distinction a slam dunk decision.

    It was Taylor’s first trip to the floor in his career, if further evidence is needed of Kelly’s punching power.

    In a fight that seemed, on paper, too close to call, in the end it was as simple as Pavlik’s recuperative powers, tenacity and big punch that separated him from Taylor. In the second round a quick left-right-left combination floored Pavlik and the ensuing onslaught almost put him down again. Pavlik wobbled around the ring as if his legs were disconnected from his body and he was bleeding from the nose and mouth. At that point, it seemed impossible that Pavlik would escape the round, let alone win by spectacular TKO.

    Taylor claimed after the fight that in his rush to finish Pavlik, he punched himself out. But the man who ate those punches appeared to be recharged between rounds, had a good third round and stayed competitive from that point forward, relentlessly throwing punches until catching Taylor on the ropes with a big right hand in the seventh, staggering Jermain before pounding him into submission with an impressive finishing assault that left Taylor sitting crumpled on the canvas.

    Contrary to my eyes that saw Taylor ahead by a point after six, the judges saw him leading by five points on one card and three points on the other two, adding an interesting epilogue to the drama. There’s nothing like a sledgehammer right to even out scorecards, but it’s still a scary thought that Taylor could have been seen with that large of a lead, even with the second round knockdown.

    The 25 year old Pavlik is now 32-0 with 29 knockouts. Plus he’s improving with every fight, has the heart of a lion and the pop of a Louisville Slugger. Against Taylor he displayed improved defense, ducking and blocking some shots, good ring generalship, an effective jab, and impressive boxing skills for a man who is perceived as a slugger.

    It wasn’t that Taylor performed badly or at age 29 had slipped to the point that he was suddenly vulnerable to right hands. Pavlik was simply better. He was able to get off the deck from Taylor’s best and Jermain couldn’t do the same when the situation was reversed in the seventh after a steady diet of right hands throughout the bout.

    The only problem with Jermain is that so many people tried to hype him into something he isn’t. Those were the same people that were still dissatisfied when Taylor defeated Bernard Hopkins for his 25th straight win and undisputed middleweight title. They took Pat Burns, Taylor’s trainer at the time who had brought him to that point, threw him under the bus and hired gun Manny Steward was brought in. This is not to imply fault to Steward for a seeming lack of progress by Taylor, just an observation that perhaps Taylor had already peaked.

    Taylor was shoved into the spotlight after Hopkins I and became one of the HBO stable of stars. Pavlik, meanwhile, had trouble just getting TV dates despite being promoted by Top Rank.

    The contrast between the meddling with Taylor’s development and Pavlik’s loyalty to Jack Loew, his trainer since the amateurs, gives one pause for thought. When he was encouraged to dump Loew in favor of a “name,” Pavlik resisted and it’s difficult to make an argument that any high profile trainer could have improved his performance in any way.

    Loew is an asphalt sealer from Pavlik’s home town of Youngstown, Ohio, population 82,000. Over half of the city’s population vanished due to the demise of the local steel industry beginning in the seventies. If you ever want to take a first hand look at the results of American outsourcing, visit Youngstown. The median income is reported as being $21,850, the lowest median income of U.S. cities with more than 65,000 residents. 25% live below the poverty line.

    I visited Youngstown in June to cover a Telefutura fight card that was held there in the Chevrolet Centre, a cozy, excellent boxing venue with no bad seats in the house. For $25 a fan could purchase a prime seat, for $100 VIP ringside table seats included an excellent buffet and an all night open bar. Yet in a building that could seat 6,000 or more for boxing, dozens were on hand to enjoy the show. Kelly Pavlik was one of them.

    The locals there are nice folks, friendly and accommodating, but the absence of traffic and 90% parking availability at the mall and shopping centers, even on weekends, speaks volumes of the town’s economic condition.

    Kelly Pavlik, the native son who made good, transcends Youngstown’s struggle for survival. The town actually gave him a pep rally before his departure for the fight, and Pavlik himself hosted a victory party at his house for the entire town upon his return on Sunday evening. In a classy move, the General Motors assembly plant in Lordstown, the area’s largest employer, pulled the night shift of 5,000 workers on Saturday night so that they could see the fight. And, in the greatest testimony to the Youngstown-Pavlik love affair, about half of the 10,127 fans in attendance at Convention Hall in Atlantic City made the six hour drive (there is no rail or air service in or out of the city) from Youngstown to support their new champion, spending their hard earned meager income for tickets and accommodations.

    Former Youngstown champions Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini and Harry Arroyo were among those in attendance.

    Taylor has a rematch clause which calls for the return bout to be held at a 164 pound limit. At 164, the rematch would not be for the title, so what’s the point for Taylor? Secondly, can Taylor beat Pavlik, even after going back to the gym once again to rehabilitate his skills? After his crushing knockout loss, how much will his psyche be affected?

    The Taylor camp is going to be faced with some tough decisions in the coming days. The two men put on a fantastic performance and the fans will be clamoring for more.

    But from the evidence presented on Saturday night, it seems unlikely that even on his best day Taylor could win another shootout with Pavlik. Does he even have the style within him to win a rematch?

    Taylor was an 8-5 favorite this time; he would be a huge underdog in a rematch. That’s what happens when you get knocked into yesterday.

    Taylor could opt to move up a division and try his hand there, as have so many others after a crushing defeat, but in all probability, he’ll end up finding Pavlik there too. Both men are big middleweights and reportedly are struggling to make 160.

    MORE, MORE HBO

    The co-feature between welterweights Andre Berto and David Estrada was an entertaining scrap as well. While Berto won virtually every round, it was closely contested and Estrada got in some good licks before being stopped at 1:17 of round 11. Estrada was tagged with a right on the chin, sending him to the canvas. He rose, only to get blasted by a vicious flurry before referee David Fields called a halt to the carnage.

    My only problem is that the fight was not only for the NABF welterweight title but for the WBC and IBF # 1 mandatory challenger status. Berto looks to be a good prospect, but -- #1 in the talent laden welterweight division? I want some of what they’re smoking.

    As for Estrada, he’s a good fighter who has lost to Shane Mosley, Kermit Cintron, Ishe Smith, and now Berto. So close and yet so far…He’ll give anyone a good fight but falls just short in the talent department. But it could be worse. He could have upset Berto and he would be the #1 contender.

    Lennox Lewis was on hand, serving as expert analyst for Manny Steward who was busy in Taylor’s corner. I enjoyed the fights so much that I mostly blocked out Lennox’s apparent speech impediment. But I did jot down a couple of gems from the former champ:

    On Taylor training in the Pocono Mountains with Steward: “Him and Emmanuel went to camp.”

    Taylor’s motivation for the fight: “He’s took it to heart.”

    I’m not complaining, you understand. It was an HBO night all the way, even with Lennox.


    Michael Swann can be reached at mswann4@aol.com.

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    The WBC & Taylor - Pavlik

    This is a long read as far as post-fight articles go. The writer brings up a disturbing issue at the end of the article.

    From www.secondsout.com

    Taylor-Pavlik: “And NEW Middleweight Champion of the World . . .”

    By Thomas Hauser

    For most of the world, a prize fight is a sporting event, entertainment, a show. For a fighter, each bout carries the potential to be a crucial turning point in his life.

    Kelly Pavlik is a fighter, a self-described “skinny white kid from Ohio.” He has a thin muscular body and knows one way to fight: going forward, punching. In high school, he worked odd jobs to get the money to go to amateur tournaments. More often than he cares to remember, he was bussing tables in a Youngstown restaurant when his high school classmates came in for something to eat after a school dance.

    On September 29th, years of sacrifice paid off for Pavlik, when he dethroned Jermain Taylor at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City to become middleweight champion of the world.

    Pavlik was born on April 4, 1982. His father, Mike, was a steelworker, who now works as an insurance agent for AIG. His mother, Debbie, is a cook at Hardee’s. The family has Slovak, Sicilian, Irish, and German roots.

    Kelly lived at home with his parents until autumn 2006. He now lives in Boardman (a Youngstown suburb) with Samantha Kocanjer and their sixteen-month-old daughter, Sydney.

    When Pavlik was nine, he took up combat sports. At first, he experimented with martial arts. “But it was dull,” he says. “There was no contact; so after a while, I wanted to try boxing. My parents were against it. I had to fight tooth and nail to get them to let me do it. Finally, they gave in and my mom took me to the gym.”

    The gym was the Southside Boxing Club; a converted pizza joint where a Youngstown native named Jack Loew taught children to box. “I loved it from the start,” Kelly remembers. “When coach finally let me fight, I went to war with everybody in the gym.”

    Pavlik’s first amateur fight came at age nine in a Golden Gloves competition between Youngstown and Steubenville. His opponent was 11-year-old Anthony Batisella (the Ohio State Fair Junior Olympic Champion and a “veteran” with thirty amateur fights to his credit). Kelly won a three-round decision. Thereafter, he kept improving. “I was tall and awkward,” he remembers. “At age nine, I already wore size twelve shoes. I couldn’t do the Ali shuffle because I kept tripping over my feet. But I loved boxing. In other sports, you have teammates who help carry the load. The best thing about being a fighter is, when you win, you know you did it.“

    Over the next eight years, Pavlik compiled an amateur record of 89 wins against 9 losses. He was never knocked down or given a standing-eight count. He also played high school baseball (he was a catcher) and football (running back and cornerback). “But I didn’t have the size or speed to make it in football,” he says. “And in baseball, no matter how good you are, it’s almost impossible to make it to the top level. I was good in boxing and I was winning, so I figured why not get serious about it.”

    “I really didn’t think he’d turn pro,” Mike Pavlik says of his son. “His mother and I thought he’d tire of it, and that would have made us happy. Now, as a father, there are times when I just sit there and smile; I’m so proud. But there’s also a terror and fear in seeing your son in combat. And make no mistake about it; boxing is combat.”

    Pavlik turned pro in 2000 with Cameron Dunkin and his father as co-managers. Top Rank (his promoter) was grooming him for stardom and put him in showcase bouts on the undercard of De La Hoya-Vargas and De La Hoya-Hopkins. But a fighter’s career moves slowly in the early going, and Kelly was further hampered by tendon problems in his right hand. To supplement his income, he washed dishes and took other jobs. Until the start of this year, he did occasional landscape work for ten dollars an hour to help make ends meet.

    Then, on May 19, 2007, Pavlik’s life changed. He knocked out Edison Miranda in seven rounds. That performance silenced a lot of doubters. Suddenly, Kelly was no longer a protected white kid. He was the mandatory challenger to middleweight king Jermain Taylor and, in the eyes of his fans, “Heir Apparent” to the middleweight throne.

    Meanwhile, Taylor was struggling. Jermain won the undisputed middleweight championship on July 16, 2005 with a 12-round decision over Bernard Hopkins. Five months later, he duplicated that feat and seemed poised for superstardom.

    Taylor is skilled in the ring, handsome, and likeable, with a gift for charming people. “I’m sorry I’m late,” he told reporters at the kick-off press conference for his 2006 fight against Winky Wright. “I was chasing my daughter around. I had to take her to day care, and she was tough to catch.” Then he observed, “This is weird. I’m used to being up here arguing with Bernard Hopkins. Winky came over and shook my hand. I didn’t know what to do."

    But by then, Taylor had done something self-destructive. After his second victory over Hopkins, he’d allowed himself to be separated from one of the mainstays of his success as a fighter. Pat Burns (who had trained Jermain from his first pro fight) was at odds with Ozell Nelson (the “father figure” in Jermain’s life). At Nelson’s urging, Burns was dismissed and Emanuel Steward was brought in to work with Jermain.

    When Burns was removed, Taylor lost the boxing voice that he trusted most. His subsequent performances reflected Pat’s absence. Against Wright, Jermain fought without his usual fire and salvaged a draw. That was followed by lackluster victories over Kassim Ouma and Cory Spinks.

    There’s a time-honored maxim in boxing that holds, “If a fighter isn’t getting better, he’s getting worse.” With each succeeding fight after Burns’s departure, Jermain’s performance declined.

    The Taylor camp responded by noting that Wright, Ouma, and Spinks were all former champions and southpaws, which made them difficult to fight. But after a while, the whining about opponents’ styles wore thin. Wright, Ouma, and Spinks were also smaller men who had come up from 154 pounds to face Jermain. And the Spinks fight was particularly troubling. Against a smaller light-punching foe, Taylor had seemed to be out of shape and a bit gun-shy.

    “Jermain has a lot of skills,” Naazim Richardson (who works with Bernard Hopkins) said after Taylor-Spinks. “But mentally, he wasn’t ready to be champion.”

    “At one time, you had ten guys in the middleweight division who could have been the champion,” opined Don Turner (who trained Evander Holyfield and Larry Holmes). “Now the champion can’t even be a champion.”

    Taylor wasn’t particularly bothered by criticism from the boxing community. “Let ‘em talk,” he said. But he was stung by criticism from the media in his home state of Arkansas; some of it cruel. One radio talk-show host in Little Rock went so far as to tell his audience, “We have Jermain Taylor with us today.” Then he introduced a cohort who imitated Jermain’s stutter.

    In sum, Taylor was falling short of his fans’ expectations and, more importantly, his hopes for himself. It seemed as though the joy had gone out of fighting for him. His next career move was both perilous and obvious.

    People wanted to see how good Taylor still was and how good Kelly Pavlik could be. Taylor-Pavlik would be a fight between the middleweight champion of the world and a hard-punching undefeated legitimate number-one contender. With one good win, Jermain could wipe away the residue of three disappointing performances and begin the process of restoring the lustre that had worn off his crown.

    “It took longer than I thought it would,” Pavlik said when the contract was signed. “Longer to get on HBO, longer to be in the top five, longer to make good money. Seven years is a long time.”

    When serious pre-fight training for Taylor-Pavlik begin, Jermain went to the Poconos, where he worked for eight weeks with Emanuel Steward, Ozell Nelson, and Joey Gamache. Pavlik trained in Youngstown, maintaining the same routine with the same people that he’d been with from the start.

    Youngstown has gotten old. The city has a proud boxing tradition, having sired former champions Ray Mancini, Jeff Lampkin and Harry Arroyo. But it was hit hard by the economic downturn of the 1970s and never recovered. Steel mills closed and factories shut down. Unemployment is still high.

    “I like training at home,” Pavlik says. “Everything I need is there. The gym, the Iron Man Warehouse (where he does much of conditioning work). I can walk out the door and go running. My whole family is nearby. Everything is the way I want it to be for me to get ready to fight.”

    Pavlik’s training was overseen by Jack Loew, the only trainer that Kelly has ever had. Loew is also the owner and sole employee of a company called The Driveway Kings. He seals asphalt driveways for a living. One week before Taylor-Pavlik, he was sealing driveways in the morning before going to the gym.

    As might be expected, there have been whispers about Loew . . . “He’s an amateur . . . He doesn’t know how things are done in the bigtime . . . Kelly needs a professional trainer.”

    But Mike Pavlik, who fervently guards his son’s interests, said shortly before the big fight, “Jack Loew knows boxing. I’m not worried about that. And he understands Kelly very well, which is just as important.”

    Loew, for his part, says, “Kelly has stuck with me and I’ve stuck with him through some rough times. I might not be good for someone else, but I’m good for Kelly.”

    After Taylor-Pavlik was scheduled, the fighters were respectful of one another. “Kelly Pavlik is a fighter just like me,” Taylor said. “He comes to fight; no running, no holding.” Pavlik responded in kind, saying, “Jermain is a great fighter. He’s the world champion for a reason. He’s tough, he’s big, and he’s fast for his size. I’m looking forward to the challenge of being in the ring with him.”

    Then things changed. Emanuel Steward began trash-talking, which isn’t his style.

    “Pavlik is pretty much a media creation,” Steward declared. “Kelly had a good performance against Edison Miranda. But Miranda isn’t all that good and, against Kelly, he had a problem making weight. There is absolutely no way Kelly Pavlik is operating on the same level that Jermain is on right now, mentally or physically. He’s a basic right-handed fighter. Jermain will control him with his jab and knock him out in about three rounds.”

    That was followed another Steward declaration: “Kelly Pavlik has never been in with a fighter on Jermain’s level. Kelly is a Versus fighter. Jermain is an HBO fighter. The smaller guys that Jermain fought were world champions. Kelly has fought a bunch of B-list smaller guys. This will be like jumping from junior high school to college for Kelly. Jermain Taylor will knock out Kelly Pavlik. It will be a tough fight for one round at most.”

    Thereafter, Emanuel went into overdrive, proclaiming, “In all the years I’ve been training fighters, I’ve never had a fighter in better shape mentally or physically than Jermain is now. I’ll be honest with you. Even if I was Marvin Hagler or Sugar Ray Robinson, I wouldn’t want to be fighting this Jermain Taylor.”

    And Ozell Nelson put his two cents in, saying, “This fight is going to be easy pickings. They better have Pavlik ready because, the way Jermain sees it, he’s going to break something off in Pavlik.”

    Even Taylor strayed from form, declaring, “I plan on beating Kelly down. I’m supposed to say that he’s a great fighter. But he’s not. He’s slow. He doesn’t have a lot of head movement. The only thing I see good that he does is that he’s a strong fighter. Other than that, nothing. I’m going to whup him easily.”

    One gets the sense that, if Taylor and Pavlik were neighbors, they’d be in each other’s home from time to time. One can imagine them sitting on the sofa, side-by-side, watching Ohio State play Arkansas in football. Their personalities seem to be compatible.

    Pavlik is gracious and soft-spoken. “I’m pretty low-key,” he says. “I don’t care about flashiness. I like being at home or hanging around my parents house. I play softball and a little golf.” Taylor is also immensely likeable. “I try to keep a level head about all the attention I receive and never forget where I came from,” he told the BBC earlier this year.

    But by its trash-talking, Team Taylor was casting its fighter as the heavy.

    “Jermain is running his mouth, saying he’s going to break my face,” Pavlik said in response to the taunts. “I hope he comes to do that because he’s going to have to make it a fight to do that.”

    In truth, an intelligent case could be made for victory by either fighter. Taylor’s partisans were bouyed by the fact that Jermain had faced off against present or former world champions seven times and survived three fights against Bernard Hopkins and Winky Wright. He’d never been on the canvas as an amateur or a pro.

    Jermain would have an edge in hand-speed over his opponent. Add to that the fact that Pavlik doesn’t move his head enough and tends to bring his left hand back low after throwing his jab. Against Miranda, Kelly had showed he could take a punch. But could he take jab after jab and combinations?

    Taylor had fought through adversity. He’d suffered a bad scalp wound against Bernard Hopkins. His left eye had been shut by Winky Wright. Each time, he’d emerged with the crown. His will is strong. He had gone twelve rounds seven times. By contrast, Pavlik had gone nine rounds once. Kelly had never heard the ring announcer say, “round ten . . . round eleven . . . round twelve.” By the time round ten rolled around against Jermain, Pavlik would have thrown a lot of punches. And word was that he was struggling to make weight. If the fight went long, rounds ten through twelve could be harder than Kelly anticipated. Taylor might even stop him late.

    But the case for a Pavlik victory was equally strong. Pavlik has a solid chin and power in both hands. He was expected to hit Taylor harder than Jermain had ever been hit. “Kelly sees a hole in the dike, and he’s going to break through it with a sledgehammer,” Loew said. “The longer this fight goes, the worse it will be physically for Jermain.”

    “Jermain is a great fighter, but I see him declining,” Pavlik added. “I don’t know if it’s the money he’s made or changing trainers or something else; but he seems to have slipped. It’s been a long time since he fought a natural 160-pounder who can hit, so we’ll see what happens when I’m firing away. We’ll see how he adapts when I’m throwing seventy or eighty punches a round with power on each shot. A lot of things can happen during a fight. Some of them are good, and some of them are bad. But they think I’m just a slow white kid, and I’ve got a few surprises for them.”

    And then there were the intangibles, which seemed to weigh in Pavlik’s favor. Kelly was peaking mentally while, behind the bravado, Jermain seemed to have lost some of his belief in himself. Kelly appeared to be more comfortable than Jermain with who he is and where he is in his life right now.

    “On their recent performances, I’ll go with Pavlik,” Joe Calzaghe observed. “Their skills are about equal. But boxing is a hungry sport, and Pavlik is a hungry fighter. Taylor looks as though he has lost the hunger for boxing.”

    “Jermain is capable of beating Kelly,” Naazim Richardson offered. “But I think he’ll overreact to some of the negative things that have been said about him and fight a brave fight instead of a fight that gives him the best chance to win.”

    That was Pat Burns’s concern. “If Jermain goes into the ring with the attitude that he can simply out-punch Kelly or out-tough Kelly, he’s making a mistake,” Burns said several days before the fight. “That would be giving up his edge in skills and playing into Kelly’s hands. There’s no secret to what Kelly does. He’ll come right at Jermain and pressure him from the start. Jermain isn’t a one-punch knockout artist. He hits line-drive singles and doubles, not home runs. If Jermain wins, it will be by chopping the tree down punch by punch. Kelly won’t fall with one blow.”

    “I’d tell Jermain to box Kelly early,” Burns continued. “Don’t bang with him. Stay outside; pepper him with jabs. If Kelly gets inside, tie him up. Kelly is big and Kelly is strong, but Jermain can break him down with the jab and take control later in the fight. That’s what should happen if Jermain is in shape and has a good fight plan. But what I’m afraid will happen is that Jermain won’t be in great shape and he’ll abandon his jab. Believe it or not, Kelly might start to outjab him. And when Jermain drops his left hand, which he does no matter how many times you tell him not to, Kelly will land some big right hands over the top.”

    Meanwhile, more than one observer was moved to note that Taylor-Pavlik seemed eerily similar to the first fight between Taylor and Bernard Hopkins. Only now, Pavlik was the challenger stepping up in class and Jermain was the big-time fighter speaking disdainfully about how he’d crush the favorite son of Youngstown, Ohio. He was talking down to Kelly the same way that Hopkins had talked down to him.

    At a pre-fight press conference for Hopkins-Taylor I, Bernard had declared, “Jermain has the talent to take my place one day. One day. But not now; not against me.” At the final pre-fight press conference for Taylor-Pavlik, Jermain spoke virtually the same words about his opponent. And the Pavlik camp was getting angry.

    “The people around Taylor can’t get any more arrogant than what they are,” Mike Pavlik said.

    And Jack Loew declared, I’m tired of hearing how great Emanuel Steward is. I’ve never disrespected Emanuel Steward, but he’s disrespecting me. I like Jermain; he’s good for the sport. But I don’t think Jermain is a great fighter, and I think all this talking that Steward is doing is nothing but trying to build his fighter’s confidence. Jermain makes as many mistakes as Kelly does; sometimes more. If Jermain stands and trades with Kelly, Kelly will knock him out early.”

    One day before the fight, the boardwalk in Atlantic City was a sea of scarlet, grey, and white (Ohio State football colors). Ohio had embraced Pavlik. The Youngstown Vindicator (Kelly’s hometown newspaper) featured a separate index labeled “Pavlik coverage” on the main page of its website. It was above the section for Ohio State football even though the Buckeyes were undefeated through four weeks of the season. General Motors planned to shut down the late shift at its plant in Lordstown (near Youngstown) on Saturday night because so many of its workers planned to stay home and watch the fight.

    The fighters weighed in on Friday evening at six o’clock. Five thousand Pavlik supporters had journeyed from Ohio to Atlantic City, and a substantial number of them were in the Palladium Ballroom at Caesars to witness the ritual.

    Prior to the Spinks fight, Taylor had experienced trouble making weight. Thirty hours before the weigh-in for that encounter, he’d tipped the scales at 169 pounds.

    “This is my last fight at 160,” Jermain said after signing to face Pavlik. “I’ve been fighting at 160 since I turned pro. With my body frame, it’s too difficult and it’s not healthy to make 160.” But a revised training regimen had put Taylor on track to make weight for Taylor-Pavlik. On Thursday morning, he’d weighed 163. The final pounds would be lost through routine drying out.

    Pavlik, by contrast, was struggling to make weight. At 6-feet-2-inches, he’s tall for a middleweight. His face is drawn with hollows around his eyes in the best of circumstances, and the rigors of reaching 160 were preying upon him. On Thursday afternoon at 4:30, he’d been on the roof terrace at Bally’s, wearing a rubber suit, hitting the pads with Jack Loew. From there, he’d gone to the steamroom, which he visited again at nine o’clock on Thursday night and also on Friday morning. As late as 4:00 pm on Friday (two hours before the weigh-in), he was checking his weight on the official scale at Caesars.

    “Making 160 is harder now than it used to be,” Kelly acknowledged. “I don’t have the same bounce in my legs that I did before. It’s the last few pounds that drain a fighter. They’re the ones that hurt.”

    Taylor weighed in at 159 pounds; Pavlik at 159-1/2. Then the fighters posed side-by-side, and Jermain flexed his biceps. They looked like mountains.

    “I’m not impressed,” said Michael Cox (a Youngstown Police Department patrolman, who’s Kelly’s friend and would serve as the third man in Pavlik’s corner on fight night). “You punch with your body, not your biceps. Look at Jermain. He’s got biceps, but the rest of him is less developed than it was before.”

    After the weigh-in, Pavlik began the process of replenishing his body with a dinner of steak and pasta. In the preceding weeks, Team Taylor had frequently referenced an encounter between Jermain and Kelly that occurred at the 2000 Olympic Trials. Jermain had won a decision in that fight, although, during the build-up to Taylor-Pavlik, he’d conceded, “To be honest, I don’t remember it.”

    “It was a good fight,” Pavlik said, sipping from a bottle of water as he recovered from making weight. “Jermain won. I’m not going to take that away from him. But he was 21 years old with a lot of amateur experience, and I was a 17-year-old kid. I’m a grown man now.”

    Meanwhile, Taylor was in a strange place. For his entire career, he’d been the darling of Little Rock, Arkansas. But Little Rock wasn’t supporting him for this fight the way Youngstown was supporting Pavlik. For the first time as a pro, Jermain would be entering an arena with the crowd overwhelmingly in favor of his opponent.

    Emanuel Steward was playing upon that fact. Five days before the fight, he’d told Chris Givens of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, “The biggest factor in this fight is Little Rock, Arkansas, and the rejection Jermain gotten in that town. My advice to Jermain, the way to get even, is to be a winner. I’m going to be honest with you. I’ve never seen this animosity in a fighter in training before, and this isn’t even directed at another fighter. There’s so much tension because of the Little Rock situation. I’ve never had a fighter train with such focus and intensity. You can almost see he’s about to explode.”

    It helps a fighter to have something larger than himself to flow into. When Taylor fought Hopkins, he’d felt as though the entire state of Arkansas was behind him. Now, in an effort to motivate him, he was being told that Arkansas had abandoned him. But that was a misreading of Taylor’s psyche. Unlike many fighters, Jermain isn’t fueled by anger.

    On Saturday night, Kelly Pavlik entered his dressing room in Boardwalk Hall at 8:34. He was wearing a gray warm-up suit with a scarlet stripe down each leg and white piping. Mike Pavlik, Jack Loew, Cameron Duncan, Michael Cox, John Loew (Jack’s son), and Mike Pavlik Jr (Kelly’s oldest brother) were with him. Miguel Diaz, who has worked Kelly’s corner since his first pro fight, was already there.

    The preliminary fights were underway. In the first bout of the evening, Ray Smith (one of Taylor’s sparring partners from Little Rock) had been knocked out by Richard Pierson (a Pavlik sparring partner). Then heavyweight Terry Smith (also from Little Rock) lost a six-round decision to Robert Hawkins.

    “I got good news for you,” Diaz told Kelly. “Both of Jermain’s Taylor’s guys lost.”

    The dressing room had seen better days. The industrial carpet was worn and the vinyl-topped rubdown table was scarred with discolored tape covering multiple gashes. But it was luxurious compared to some of Kelly’s past surroundings. For early pro fights, he’d dressed in storage rooms and hallways and fought in makeshift arenas like an old flea market with tiles missing from the ceiling.

    Lee Samuel’s (Top Rank’s director of publicity) came into the room. “Seven years of hard work pays off tonight,” he said.

    “Seven years for you guys,” Jack Loew told him. “Fifteen years for me and Kelly.”

    A few minutes later, referee Steve Smoger entered and gave Pavlik his final pre-fight instructions. Dr. Sherry Wulkan of the New Jersey Board of Athletic Control administered a final pre-fight physical. When they were done, Kelly yawned. Then he began text-messaging friends.

    “Oklahoma got beat pretty good today,” Loew said,

    “Texas too,” Mike Pavlik added. Then Mike pointed toward the HBO television monitor by the door. “Too bad we can’t get Ohio State on that thing.”

    Kelly stopped text-messaging long enough to pull up some college football scores. “Ohio State is losing to Minnestoa,” he said.

    “What?” his father uttered in disbelief.

    Kelly smiled. “Just kidding. The Buckeyes are up 14-0; 7:22 left in the second quarter.” He put down his cell phone and stretched out his legs on a folding chair in front of him.

    “Who do you like next week; Pacquiao or Barrera,” Cameron Dunkin asked the group at large.

    “Pacquiao,” Mike Pavlik answered.

    Dunkin turned toward Jack Loew. “And you?”

    “Barrera.”

    “Really?” Dunkin said in surprise.

    “Three years ago, I’d have said Barrera,” Kelly offered. “But the way they are now, I don’t see Barrera in the fight.”

    Larry Merchant came in for a brief pre-fight interview. “I’ve waited for this for seven years,” Pavlik told him. “I just want to get in there and let my hands go. He’ll have to keep up with me.”

    At 9:41, Kelly lay down on the carpet and began a series of stretching exercises. Ten minutes later, he stood up. “Time to put my soldier gear on,” he said.

    Shoes first. Then his trunks; grey with red, white, and blue trim.

    The conversation around the room was casual and low-key; what one might expect to hear in the gym before a sparring session.

    Loew began wrapping Kelly’s hands. Throughout training, the muscles in the fighter’s back had been tighter than he would have liked. Now, as Loew wrapped, Mike Pavlik massaged his son’s back and shoulders.

    Mike had been a constant presence in Atlantic City. Broad-shouldered with a shaved head, he looks as though he could bench-press the Empire State Building. He was enjoying the journey and, at the same time, looking after his son.

    The odds had been virtually even in the days leading up to the fight, with the “smart” money on Taylor and the Youngstown money on Pavlik. In the past twenty-four hours, the professional money had come in, making Jermain an 8-to-5 favorite.

    That was understandable. Kelly had struggled to make weight. He had a history of tendon problems with his right hand, and his nose had been banged up pretty good in training camp.

    Jack Dempsey once observed, “Any nose hurts when it get hits.” Bleeding from the nose cuts off part of a fighter’s air supply. And a week earlier, Kelly had come down with a cold. His nose was still running a bit.

    Michael Cox checked his cell phone. “Ohio State is winning; 23-7,” he said. “Nine minutes left in the third quarter.”

    At 10:17, the taping was done.

    “How are we doing?” Mike Pavlik asked.

    “I’m very very confident,” Loew told him. “Nothing to do for this boy anymore but let him fight.”

    Kelly gloved up and began hitting the pads with his trainer.

    “Stay behind the jab,” Loew instructed. “Jab, right, jab, right.”

    Each time, the follow right was a bit off target.

    “Stay behind the jab and relax . . . There. That’s it. Double jab. Now let it go.”

    The punches began landing with explosive power.

    When the pad-work was done, Kelly alternated between pacing back and forth and shadow-boxing.

    Miguel Diaz put Vaseline on Kelly’s face.

    The fighter hit the pads with Loew one last time.

    “That’s it . . . Wow . . . Nice and easy . . . Push him back with that big long jab. Double it up . . . There you go. Back him up and you win.”

    “Two minutes and you walk,” Team Pavlik was told.

    Kelly stood up and moved toward the door.

    There had been no music; no shouting; no one calling out “What time is it?” Just quiet confidence and calm.

    Michael Cox checked his cell phone one last time. “The Buckeyes won; 30 to 7,” he announced.

    Mike Pavlik put an arm on Kelly’s shoulder. All that work, all those years; it comes together now,” he told his son. “You were born to be here tonight.”

    Youngstown was in the house. That was clear as the fighters made their way to the ring. The crowd made it sound as though the bout was being fought in Ohio. There was a thunderous roar for Pavlik and loud boos for Taylor.

    A lot of things are said in the days leading up to a fight. None of them matter once the bell rings.

    Taylor came out aggressively in round one, going right after Pavlik. He was quicker than the challenger and his hands were faster. All three judges gave him the round. When the stanza was over, Jack Loew told his charge, “Control the pace. Be patient. Stay behind the jab. It’s a basic fight.”

    Round two began with more of the same. “I was surprised,” Pavlik said later. “I thought he’d try to box me more, but he came to fight. He has hand-speed and he can punch.”

    Definitely, he can punch. Midway through round two, Taylor timed a right hand over a sloppy Pavlik jab. The blow landed high on the challenger’s head. Pavlik staggered backward, and the champion followed with a 15-punch barrage that put Kelly down.

    “I was scared to death,” Mike Pavlik admitted later. “That’s the worst feeling I’ve ever had in my life. I wouldn’t have cared if the referee had stopped it. To be honest; I was hoping it was over.”

    “The first thing that went through my mind,” Kelly said in his dressing room after the fight, “was, ‘Oh, shit.’ But I heard the count. I was aware at all times. I told myself, ‘Get up; get through this.’”

    Pavlik rose at the count of two, but there were 88 seconds left in the round. “I was shaky,” he admitted. “That right hand hurt. I’ve been knocked down before but there was never a buzz. It had always been a balance thing. This time, there was a tingle and my legs weren’t so good. I did what I could to survive. He hit me with some more hard shots, but I got through the round. Some guys quit when they get knocked down, and some get back up.”

    There comes a time when a fighter has to dig deep within himself by himself. In the corner after round two, Kelly managed a weak smile. “I’m okay,” he told Loew. But he was bleeding from the nose and mouth.

    “Stay on that double fucking jab,” Loew ordered. “There’s a lot of time left. You have ten more rounds to do your job.”

    Then, incredibly, Pavlik won round three. The punches that Taylor had thrown in the second round seemed to have taken more out of the champion than the challenger. Jermain paced himself in the stanza rather than following up on his advantage. Pavlik threw 99 punches over the three-minute period, earning the nod on each judge’s scorecard.

    The die was cast. Taylor was faster. He was ahead on points throughout the bout. But inexorably, Pavlik was walking him down with non-stop aggression behind a strong double jab. More and more often, the champion found himself having to punch his way out of a corner. When the fight moved inside and one of the challenger’s hands was tied up, he fought with the other rather than clinch. He made Jermain fight every second of every round.

    “Jermain has a chin,” Pavlik acknowledged afterward. “I hit him with some punches, flush, right on the button early, and he didn’t budge. But then he started to wear down. In the fifth round, I thought I hurt him a bit against the ropes. But he came back with a right hand that came close to putting me in trouble again, so I reminded myself to be careful. In the seventh round, I hit him with another good right hand and his reaction was different. I saw his shoulders sag. There was that little buckle in his knees, and I knew I had him.”

    When the right hand that Pavlik was referring to landed, Taylor backed into a corner again. Kelly followed with a barrage of punches. “Jermain went limp,” referee Steve Smoger said later. “He was totally gone, helpless.”

    Smoger stepped between the fighters. Two minute and fourteen seconds into round seven, Kelly Pavlik was the new middleweight champion of the world.

    It was an important night for boxing. Millions of fans saw Taylor-Pavlik because it was on HBO, not pay-per-view. There was lots of action. And Pavlik put on a show reminiscent of Arturo Gatti’s never-say-die, blue-collar, ethnic appeal. It’s rare that a fighter comes back to win after finding himself in the circumstances that Pavlik found himself in during round two. But Kelly did. Fighting him is starting to look like playing Russian roulette with five bullets in the gun.

    “Boxing fans are hungry for a new guy to come around who goes in the ring and takes care of business and doesn’t shoot his mouth off in a negative way,” Kelly said last month. “When Ali was running his mouth, he had something to say. Too many of the guys today don’t say anything worth listening to and they aren’t even funny.”

    Taylor never assumed the role of poster boy for boxing that was envisioned for him when he dethroned Bernard Hopkins. Maybe Pavlik will. But Jermain shouldn’t be written off too quickly. His best days as a fighter aren’t necessarily behind him. In round two, he was one punch away from beating Pavlik. All three judges had him ahead at the time of the stoppage. And the more Bernard Hopkins wins, the better Taylor’s two victories over him look.

    Losing is part of boxing. Losing respect is something else. It would be a terrible injustice if Jermain were to lose the respect that he earned in the past with his hard work, courage, and blood.

    A contract is already in place for Pavlik-Taylor II to be fought at 166 pounds with a fifty-fifty financial split between the camps. It’s possible that the fighters will opt for interim bouts first, but either one of them can force an immediate rematch. If and when that fight occurs, the outcome is not a foregone conclusion. However, for Jermain to win, he’ll have to get his house in order.

    One doesn’t have to debate the issue of whether Emanuel Steward is a better trainer than Pat Burns. It’s enough to say that Burns was a better trainer for Taylor.

    Burns was ousted because Jermain felt more of a personal obligation to Ozell Nelson than he did to Pat. But he had confidence in Burns as a trainer and relied on him emotionally as a fighter. In the ring, neither Steward or Nelson has been able to fill that void. The chemistry between Jermain and Emanuel simply isn’t there, and that might have been the determining factor on September 29th. It led to a situation where, deep down, one fighter believed in himself and the other didn’t.

    Beyond that, it should simply be noted that Jermain Taylor has always been loyal to Arkansas. Now would be a good time for Arkansas to be loyal to Jermain.

    * * *

    A NOTE ON A RELATED MATTER: After referee Steve Smoger gave Kelly Pavlik his instructions in the dressing room prior to Taylor-Pavlik, Mauricio Sulaiman came into the room. Mauricio is the son of WBC president Jose Sulaiman. In recent years, he has assumed an increasingly active role within the sanctioning body. He is now the WBC’s executive secretary and is in charge of the organization’s executive office in Mexico City.

    In the dressing room, Mauricio approached veteran cornerman Miguel Diaz and told him, “If Kelly wins, I would like his trunks to present as a gift to my father.” Diaz relayed the request to Mike Pavlik, who responded, “No way.”

    After the fight, Mauricio returned to the dressing room and renewed his request.

    “Oh, man,” Kelly said. “These are my trunks. Next fight, maybe; but not this one. I just won the championship in these trunks. My blood is on them.”

    More people were drawn into the conversation. One-on-ones followed. Some words were exchanged regarding the discretionary powers of WBC officials and their ability to make things easy or hard on WBC champions. Mauricio Sulaiman left Boardwalk Hall with Kelly Pavlik’s bloodstained trunks. In the wee small hours of Sunday morning, he was confronted regarding the matter and the trunks were returned.

    “It was a misunderstanding,” Mauricio told this writer. “I was led to believe that Kelly wanted the trunks to be presented as a gift to my father because of his respect for my father and the WBC. When it was brought to my attention that Kelly wished to have the trunks back, I arranged quickly to return them.”

    Federal law states, “No officer or employee of a sanctioning organization may receive any compensation, gift, or benefit, directly or indirectly, from a boxer [other than a sanctioning fee].” Violation of this law is a crime punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of $20,000.

    When a powerful WBC official makes a request such as the one Sulaiman made of Pavlik, there’s an inherent coercive factor at work. That’s why there’s a law against it.

    Craig Hamilton (the foremost boxing memorabilia dealer in the United States) estimates that Pavlik’s trunks from his championship-winning fight could be worth as much as $25,000. The WBC received a substantial sanctioning fee for Taylor-Pavlik. That should suffice for everyone’s purposes.

    This isn’t the first time that Mauricio Sulaiman has made a request of this nature. One hopes it’s the last.


    Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at thauser@rcn.com.

  23. #23
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    Re: The WBC & Taylor - Pavlik

    One of the best articles I have read relating to a fight. It was very in depth and you almost felt like you were in the dressing room. That was strange at the end and IMO that guy should be ousted from the WBC for his insistent requests for Pavlik's trunks...

    Did he secretly want to sniff them or something??

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    Re: The WBC & Taylor - Pavlik

    Thomas Hauser is a friend of mine and I believe he is a terrific talent. Boxing is lucky to have him.

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    Re: The WBC & Taylor - Pavlik

    Great article! "Sillyman"(Sulaman)jr is a little worm.

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    Re: The WBC & Taylor - Pavlik

    >>>Did he secretly want to sniff them or something??<<<

    He wanted to have them to put on ebay, or something like that!

    I agree about Thomas Hauser. He is one of my favorite boxing writers as well as just being a tremendously good writer!

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    Re: The WBC & Taylor - Pavlik

    One of the best articles I've read in a long time.

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    Re: The WBC & Taylor - Pavlik

    Outstanding piece. If Pat Burns was interviewed before the fight, then he is prescient. Taylor should fire Steward and get Burns back in his camp.

    At this time, I don't think that Pavlik is one of the greatest middleweights of all time. But I do think that he is one heck of a fighter. Hats off to him. And, as time goes on, he may impress me even more.

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    Re: The WBC & Taylor - Pavlik

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading Thomas Hausers article on The Kelly Pavlick/Jermaine Taylor fight. It was a smooth and interesting read that covered the panoply of the pre fight drama the inner mechanics of the fight itself and the nebulous aftermath of the underhanded machinations of the so called World Boxing Council. Great boxing journalism in my opinion by one of the best boxing scribes out there.

    Mikey Capp

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    Re: The WBC & Taylor - Pavlik

    This is some of the best, relatively unbiased writing that Hauser has done. The man is talented, and this artcle "almost" makes me forgive him for his slighlty overzealous Ali worship....

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