Sharkie’s Machine: Kelly Pavlik’s Jab Still Beats Jermain Taylor - Boxing
By Frank Gonzalez Jr., Exclusive to Doghouse Boxing (Feb 17, 2008) Photo © German Villasenor  
The jab. The simplest punch in boxing as well as one of the most important. Everything flows from the jab and in spite of the heavy handedness of Kelly Pavlik, his jab is definitely his greatest asset. He never forgot to use it before and Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas was no different, when former Middleweight Champion Jermain“Bad Intentions” Taylor (27-2-1 Draw, 17 KO’s) challenged reigning Middleweight Champion Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik (33-0, 29 KO’s) to fight at 166 pounds and as such, there were no titles on the line.

For Taylor it was a chance for personal redemption. Like a true champ, Taylor didn’t want to take any tune-up fights. He wanted to go right after the man that beat him and that is quite noble from a competition standpoint. I think he should’ve come in at 160 and challenged for the titles but apparently Taylor felt it would be the difference for him. Most fighters fight at weights that aren’t natural for them. For Pavlik, making weight is not a problem, even if he does stand at six feet, two and a half inches tall.

Taylor trained real hard, went back to his old amateur trainer, Ozell Nelson instead of Manny Stewart. Interestingly, Taylor followed the instructions of Nelson a whole lot better than he ever listened to Stewart. Taylor actually fought better under Nelson than I’ve ever seen him fight—in a losing effort no less!

The Fight:

Just before they started, the stare down was pretty intense. Neither had an edge in that department.

Round One

It started with a measured tone. Both used their jab effectively. Pavlik landed a big jab that saw Taylor go backwards.Pavlik landed a good shot to the body. Taylor came back with a solid left hook! Pavlik landed a right. They exchange punches at the bell. 10-9 Pavlik.

Round Two

Pavlik pressed forward,jabbing and throwing rights. Taylor landed a few good shots and kept moving around. Pavlik landed to the body, then to the head. Taylor ’s speed was evident when he popped Pavlik with a big right hand. Taylor also followed with some punches below the belt and was warned by Tony Weeks, the referee. Lots of action as they traded shots, with Taylor doing some good scoring. Pavlik landed the heavier punches but Taylor excited the crowd with his faster hands. 10-9 Taylor .

Round Three

Taylor landed a jab to the body to start things. Pavlik backs him up with a combination. Pavlik sticks to his modus operandi and pops his jab and kept Taylor moving backwards. Taylor boxed, circled around and landed a hard right to the body. Taylor was beating Pavlik to the punch,landed a right hand and a left hook. Pavlik looked slowed a bit. Taylor ’s discipline was noteworthy. 10-9 Taylor .

Round Four

They waste little time and traded punches at center ring. Pavlik always kept his jab working and landing rights behind it. Things turned tactical as Pavlik pressed Taylor with his jab and scored at will. Taylor stepped up his jab output and landed many, followed with his right. Late in the round, Pavlik landed a right that slowed Taylor ’s attack. Pavlik landed harder punches as the bell rang. Both had some good moments. 10-10 Even.

Taylor’s corner told him to relax. Very relaxed in his corner, Pavlik’s people told him to double his jab.

Round Five

Pavlik’s jab kept Taylor at bay. Taylor threw his jab but Pavlik had the better jab that landed more often. Pavlik followed up with right hands that often landed. Taylor landed a nice right that saw the sweat fly off Pavlik’s head. A Pavlik right caused Taylor ’s nose to bleed. Pavlik scored at a high percentage as he pushed Taylor around the ring with punches. Taylor scored in spurts. Taylor rallied late and punched after the bell. 10-9 Pavlik.

Round Six

Pavlik continued to press forward with the jab. Both scored in spots. Pavlik constantly threw his jab, atone point he landed about ten in a row, all unanswered by Taylor, who conserved energy by punching less but exploding with attacks in spots that scored. Pavlik was in control. Taylor landed a hard left before the round ended. 10-9 Pavlik.

Round Seven

Taylor’s eyes started to show swelling as Pavlik’s jab kept finding a home there. Taylor had a few good moments, like a shoeshine to the body and showed some quality boxing skills. Pavlik kept coming forward, always working, always landing something and always pushing Taylor back. Taylor flurried to the body again and continued to punch after the bell—again.

10-9 Pavlik.

Round Eight

It was more of the same as Pavlik pressed his jab and Taylor circled around him, throwing shots when he could and managed to land a nice left hook. Pavlik kept punching. Pavlik scored the stronger punches and consistently kept Taylor moving backwards. Pavlik nose was bloodied from a Taylor left hook. Taylor landed a big right and Pavlik blocked the rest and as they clinched, both landed at the bell. Close, but Pavlik did more damage. 10-9 Pavlik.

Pavlik’s corner told him not to shake hands anymore. Taylor’s corner worked on his swelling cheeks and eyes.

Round Nine

More of the same, with Pavlik pressing and Taylor ,getting pushed backwards. Taylor landed a nice right that stung Pavlik but Pavlik came right back at him with jabs and combinations. Taylor landed another left hook. Pavlik kept hammering his jab into Taylor ’s face, his eyes getting smaller with each shot. Pavlik never let Taylor change the tempo. With basic boxing fundamentals, he kept the momentum in his favor and didn’t let Taylor land enough punches to steal the round. 10-9 Pavlik.

Round Ten

Virgin territory for Pavlik,who never fought past nine rounds. They boxed at a more measured pace early.They both had to be a bit tired by this point but neither showed signs of fatigue. Pavlik’s efficient jab was the story of the fight so far. Taylor landed a hard overhand right, the crowd erupted with cheers. Pavlik returned with a hard, short punch inside. Taylor got busy late and landed good shots with enough intensity to take the round.10-9 Taylor .

Round Eleven

They traded punches at center ring. Taylor had the faster hands. Taylor landed some nice distance shots, like a hook from down-under that snapped Pavlik’s head back. Pavlik’s jab constantly broke through Taylor ’s guard. Taylor double jabbed to the body. Pavlik landed a right. Pavlik goes back to his jab and finally caught Taylor against the ropes. Taylor was disciplined enough to stay away from the ropes just about the whole fight, but when he ended up there, Pavlik hurt him. Pavlik landed a vicious body shot and kept punching as Taylor held him for the final seconds of the round. 10-9 Pavlik.

Taylor’s corner worked his swellings. Pavlik’s corner told him he needed a knockdown.

Round Twelve

They went at it and both scored in spots, Taylor landed a big right. Pavlik cinched. Pavlik landed his jab into Taylor ’s face. Pavlik opened up with some combos and showed great stamina. Taylor landed a left hook. Pavlik continued to punish Taylor ’s face with a stinging jab. Pavlik to the body, Pavlik to the face. Taylor shoe-shined to the body. They brawled and clinched and with only seconds left, Taylor held onto Pavlik until the bell rang to end it. Pavlik looked disappointed at not being able to land anything in the final seconds but he definitely won the last round. 10-9 Pavlik.

They embraced at center ring and the mutual respect was obvious.

The Official scores were117-111, 116-112 and 115-113, all for Kelly Pavlik.

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Congratulations to Kelly Pavlik! He fought a hell of a fight. Pavlik never strayed from his strategy, used his jab and all of his success flowed from that long, effective jab. He controlled the tempo and did the most damage in a fight against a very well prepared,motivated and technically improved Jermain Taylor. He showed great stamina in his first fight that ever went 12 rounds. Prior to Saturday, the most Pavlik ever fought was nine rounds. He has won 29 of his 33 professional fights by knockout. I’d like to see Pavlik take on the other two “champions” in an effort to consolidate the Titles and seek to become the ONE Champion at Middleweight. I can’t imagine anyone at 160 who can beat Pavlik at this point, so his reign may last a good while. “King Arthur” Abraham (25-0,20 KO’s) the IBF champion, is the next logical opponent for Pavlik. Abraham has beaten common opponent, Edison Miranda by decision. Pavlik knocked Miranda out.

Other than beating Taylor twice, Miranda and Zertuche, Pavlik doesn’t have many big names on his resume. And there doesn’t seem to be any great depth at Middleweight these days. There is Felix Sturm, who owns the WBA Title. I doubt Sturm would want to fight Pavlik after fighting to a draw against up and coming Randy “The Gentleman” Griffin (24-1-3 Draws, 12KO’s) last October. John Duddy is moving up in the rankings at 23-0, 17 KO’s,maybe if the other champions chicken out, Pavlik can entertain Duddy one Saturday night.

It’s certainly not the end for Jermain Taylor. Though he lost the boxing match to Pavlik, he did show tremendous improvements in his overall game and certainly proved that he is going to be a force to be reckoned with when he moves up to 168. Joe Calzaghe might be too much for him, even if he is getting older, Calzaghe’s still the best Super-middleweight out there. There’s the very well rounded Mikkel Kessler, who would make a good match up with Taylor. There’s Carl Froch, Lucien Bute, Jeff Lacy, Jean Pascal and some others who might make for some entertaining fights Taylor can look forward to. Whatever he does,let’s just hope he never fights Bernard Hopkins again.

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