Miguel Cotto and Kelly Pavlik: Two Roads Diverged
By JD Camacho, DoghouseBoxing.com (July 26, 2009) Photo © German Villasenor  
This time last year, Miguel Cotto and Kelly Pavlik trotted the same track. Each polished a goose egg on the end of his record. Each answered to his promoter Top Rank. Each controlled a growing regional fan-base. Each held recognition as the best fighter in his weight class. Each occupied a spot on any respectable pound-for-pound list. The sky was the limit. And then, each fell. Hard.

Antonio Margarito and his possibly loaded fists knocked Cotto out of the air and stomped him into the ground. Bernard Hopkins seemed to make Pavlik forget how to walk, much less fly.

In the year since, one has raised up again while the other still nurses his broken wing.

Why has Cotto scored the biggest fight of his career while Pavlik watches his most logical opponent flock to another division? Cotto, who will challenge boxing’s arguable biggest draw and boxing’s inarguable pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao on November 14th, has healed his wounds, cured what ailed him, and found his pockets ready to be lined and his legacy ready to be boosted. Pavlik, meanwhile, has been left to pick up the scraps of the middleweight division. He couldn’t stir up enough money from HBO to satisfy himself in a match with German titleholder Felix Sturm. He is stuck with a potential quagmire in dealing with his fallout with CONTENDER star Sergio Mora. And he has to sit back and observe his biggest rival and best possible challenger, the undefeated Arthur Abraham, secure a spot in the exciting super middleweight tournament – and the several seven-figure paydays that come with it.

What has transpired in the past year for both fighters? Miguel Cotto took over six months off, returned to a boisterous New York crowd, and ripped British fall guy Michael Jennings apart. Then, for an encore, he took on the rough-and-tumble Joshua Clottey – a consensus Top 5 fighter in his division – and earned the victory despite suffering a horrible gash. Pavlik has fought only once since October, in February when he bludgeoned fringe contender Marco Antonio Rubio before his hometown fans. Since, he’s had a promise to fight Abraham fall apart, an uninteresting fight with Mora fall through, and all his momentum as the next Great White Hype fall down.

Not all of this is Pavlik’s fault. After all, middleweight is not nearly as stacked a division as welterweight, and there’s no pound-for-pound moneymaker anywhere close to his weight class (unless you count the mutant-like Paul Williams, of course). And Clottey, Cotto’s latest scalp, was a Top Rank fighter. Abraham and Sturm are not, which made contests with them more difficult to negotiate.

But Pavlik doesn’t seem any closer to reestablishing his image. He hasn’t reached out in a big way to Paul Williams. He scoffed at the HBO purse offer for Felix Sturm. And he has ridiculed the lucrative 168-pound playoffs. It’s as if Pavlik wants the big paydays without earning them again.

Miguel Cotto earned his opportunity against Manny Pacquiao by going through hell for twelve rounds against Joshua Clottey. Kelly Pavlik hasn’t defeated anyone close to that caliber in a year and a half. And it doesn’t look like he will any time soon.


I see Pacquiao shooting southpaw snowballs through that hole in Cotto’s earmuff defense and then sliding out of the way, until the Puerto Rican can’t take anymore. Of course, Cotto is the hardest hitting fighter Pacquiao has ever fought so Cotto may get to him before he suffers too much damage. Mark your calendars. This is one to get excited about (duh)…

According to UK writer Steve Bunce, the semifinals and final of the super-middleweight tournament will be broadcast on terrestrial US television. Because CBS owns Showtime, CBS most likely will be broadcast the bouts. This is big news. This hasn’t happened since Thriller was released…

The Floyd Mayweather – Juan Manuel Marquez PPV is going head-to-head with a UFC PPV on September 19th. Put away your swords, please. I can see the mainstream media making a fuss about this and queuing up more MMA vs. Boxing debates. Spare me. This conflict means nothing, no matter who “wins” on the night…

As happy as I am about Cotto – Pacquiao being made, the Pacquiao camp has become quite the sticklers when it comes to negotiations. It's been very hard for them to negotiate his last three fights. Squabbling about something in every single one - weight, purse, both, whatever. I think it's telling that SIX fighters got a TWELVE fight deal done through FIVE promoters and TWO sanctioning bodies in virtually the same amount of time it took TWO fighters to get ONE fight done through ONE promoter and ZERO sanctioning bodies. You do the math…

JD at: jdcamachorj@gmail.com

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