Kelly Pavlik Leaves More To Be Desired
By Brandon Estrict at ringside for (Feb 23, 2009)  
Kelly Pavlik got back into the win column last night, by forcing a seemingly disinterested Marco Antonio Rubio to quit on his stool just before the start of the 10th round giving Pavlik his second successful defense of his WBC and WBO Middleweight Championships he lifted from Jermain Taylor back in 2007.

Pavlik, 35-1 (31), controlled the bout right from the outset battering Rubio around the ring with the usual suspects, his jab and powerful right hand, but also mixed in some good hard body shots, at least in the first few rounds,
as well as a left hook that he hasn’t used as frequently in the past.

Rubio, who has been fighting at the Middleweight limit since 2006, albeit against highly questionable opposition in Mexico, was stopped for the 3rd time in his career and the 1st time since being one-punched by veteran Kofi Jantuah in the Junior Middleweight division nearly 5 years ago. Although he did mostly nothing last night, he did have 2 or 3 spots where he let his hands go and seemed to be able to land on Youngstown, Ohio’s Champion Pavlik, but his punches didn’t have much of a noticeable effect on The Ghost. Rubio, with the loss, falls to 43-5-1 (37).

All in all, it was a thorough beating administered by Pavlik for as long as it lasted, but that isn’t necessarily the end-all, be-all in this case. The fact of the matter is, Pavlik had a fighter in front of him in Rubio, that seemed totally outgunned physically, and didn’t have, or didn’t show, the ability to be able to make up for the deficit and he let him off the hook on his own terms. After the first round, you got the feeling that this would have and should have been an early night for Kelly as Rubio offered next to nothing. He was severely outworked by Pavlik and did not throw, or move, he basically did what amounted to standing there in the line of fire all night on the defensive. Final punch-stat numbers show that Pavlik tripled Rubio in workrate, but what was more troubling to me is the fact that both men landed at a similar percentage, something in the range of twenty percent.

For a world-class, elite champion of Pavlik’s stature, you’d have to think that Rubio, or at least the Rubio that showed up for this fight, should’ve been stopped much sooner and much more decisively than turned out to be the case.

Kelly Pavlik is doing great things for Youngstown, Ohio and for boxing in the Middleweight division and in general and has the potential to do much more. He had a great thing going in stomping on the brash Edison Miranda to earn the shot at then-champion Jermain Taylor, and then coming off the deck in that one to score a devastating KO of Taylor. Going on to beat Taylor by decision in the rematch, though it was contested above the Middleweight limit via stipulation that Taylor had written into the original contract, was a good win. I would also even venture to say that the beating he took at the hands of the ageless Bernard Hopkins was a bit of an aberration. The problem is moreso what he’s done, or hasn’t done in the interim

In Pavlik’s only other defense of his Middleweight straps, he scored a 3rd round TKO over a limited Gary Lockett of Wales. Mandatory or not, red tape be damned, these simply aren’t the fights that the people want or need to see, and weren’t, at least in my own opinion, the best roads to travel in capitalizing off of his two game-changing battles with the aforementioned Taylor.

Increasingly, it’s looking as if Pavlik’s next defense will be against popular Irishmen John Duddy, who decisioned Matt Vanda on the undercard of the split telecast Top Rank Pay Per View. This is no disrespect to Duddy, an all-heart action fighter who steps into the squared circle each time with bad intentions and gives his loyal supporters a good show, but he doesn’t seem to be on the level of a Kelly Pavlik and I’m sure I speak for many when I say that this isn’t the next fight hardcore boxing fans want to see Pavlik involved in. Not with King Arthur Abraham still out there, racking up victories and disposing of all comers in dominant fashion.

The two have one common opponent in Miranda, that Pavlik stopped in 7 at the Middleweight limit, a result some attribute to Miranda being sapped after torturing his body to be on weight for that bout. Abraham fought Miranda twice, scoring a Unanimous Decision despite having his jaw broken very early on in a foul-filled bout, and the second time, which took place at the Super Middleweight limit where Miranda was presumably stronger, King Arthur outclassed him for 4 rounds before scoring an emphatic TKO, taking less punishment, and getting rid of the dangerous ‘Pantera’ much sooner than did Pavlik. To be fair though, the fight with Pavlik may have taken some starch off of Miranda by the time he got to the rematch with Abraham.

The point is, what fight at 160 lb. is bigger than this one? It would be understandable, and certainly within the realm of possibility that this bout is contingent upon both men continuing to build their profiles, especially Abraham who has only fought in the States once, and racking up victories in an effort to make it every bit as big as it can be. But if that is the case, I fail to see how Abraham fighting guys like the unheralded and untested Lajuan Simon less than a month from now, and once again in Germany, enhances a Pavlik fight.

Kelly Pavlik has a legitimate shot at being something special. At the end of the day though, he needs to continue to do what he started out doing and that is to fight the best available fighters that are out there. He reportedly had the opportunity to take fights with Paul Williams and Winky Wright in the past, but for whatever reason neither bout came off. Now, with both men fighting each other in April, he has another live opponent out there with the winner of that bout and depending on circumstance, even the loser. Between Middleweight and Super Middleweight, there are plenty of opportunities for him to write his story and at the age of 26, he’s got plenty of time before the book on him is in. Going forward though, he may want to omit chapters such as Lockett and Rubio.

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