Pavlik Stops Rubio on his Stool
By Gabriel Montoya, (Feb 22, 2009) This article provided by MaxBoxing  
Coming into to Saturday night's showdown at the Chevrolet Centre in Youngstown, Ohio between challenger Marco Antonio Rubio (43-5-1, 37 KOs) and Middleweight Champion Kelly Pavlik (35-1, 31 KOs), the question was what kind of set back, if any, would Pavlik following his one-sided loss to Bernard Hopkins last year. After nine one-sided rounds from a returning to middleweight form Pavlik against a reluctant Rubio, we still don't have the answer. What we got was a better than average opponent for a tune-up fight where Pavlik boxed patiently behind a double, sometimes triple jab
that set up his telephone pole of a right hand all night. Rubio for his part, fought back in sporadic spurts, offering little resistance and getting off his firepower rarely.

The action began in the first with Pavlik and Rubio touching gloves at center. Pavlik established his jab right off the bat. Rubio, who later described himself as "tight. Unable to get off his punches," backed away and appeared to have game-planned away from his usual come-forward, combination punching style in favor of a more traditional boxer approach. Pavlik stayed patient, measuring his man with the jab and looking for the hook off it to set up a home for his powerful right hand. Pavlik would counter well to the body as Rubio attempted to get his own jab going. So on after, a hard right hand broke through Rubio's guard as he moved away towards the ropes. Pavlik would follow up cautiously. After round one, it appeared Rubio was fighting the wrong fight and Pavlik was being a more cautious version of Kelly Pavlik.

Round two saw Rubio once again hanging around the edges of the ring along the ropes looking tight and tentative. While it's clear a boxing strategy was prepared, he looked totally unsure of how to accomplish once Pavlik started working in front of him. He attempted a combination and an uppercut but Pavlik, steady with his jab, answered back with hard shots to the head and body. After the second stanza, it was very apparent that game planning wasn't even going to help Rubio as the size of Pavlik, a larger middleweight vs. the smaller natural junior middle was readily apparent.

After the second, Rubio's corner scolded him. "You're conditioned for the whole fight. Move to your left. Move to your right. Let your hands go," they pleaded.

Rubio followed their advice and became a bit braver in the third; letting his hands go in combination and getting off two rights and a left to the body. Pavlik jabbed back and landed a left to the body of his own. Pavlik began to double his jab, dropping in a hook behind it followed by the right hand. All throughout, he began to find a home for his left hand to the body. Pavlik would also keep the fight at long range, moving out whenever they came in close which in effect took away the shorter Rubio's bets shot at winning. In this round, nerves didn't keep Rubio at bay. Kelly Pavlik did.

Rubio went back to his tentative ways in the fourth but in the fifth, Pavlik ramped up the violence. However, he continued boxing smart, cutting off the ring, picking off shots, and keeping the pressure high. Pavlik kept Rubio at bay with his jab, patiently pounding it into his face and dropping in the hard right hands behind it. After a hard series along the ropes, Rubio invited him in with a nod but Pavlik kept distance. Rubio would land a right to no effect and Pavlik shot a right to the body off a double jab in return. Rubio answered with a combo but Pavlik would answer with a brutal right of his own.

Through the sixth and seventh, Pavlik would trudge forward like a slow but steady locomotive, always the jab, always a right behind it. Rubio would attempt to flurry at the end of six but it was a vain attempt. In the seventh, however, Rubio would enjoy his bets out put of the fight as he let his hands go. However, it seemed this was more of a rest for Pavlik and he blocked, caught and countered, and overall defended well throughout.

The end would begin in the eighth as a huge right hand would rock Rubio and buckle his legs along the ropes. Pavlik would keep him there, flurrying and looking for the finish. Rubio showed a lot of guts and determination as he fought vainly but valiantly off the ropes. Pavlik pressed and pressed for the stoppage but Rubio was having none of it as he fought to the bell.

That determination would only buy him 3 more minutes of pain for in the ninth, it was all Pavlik. Pavlik trainer Jack Loew would tell his charge "don't let this guy get back in the fight. Go do your job." As the bell rang, Pavlik punched in and did just that. Rubio came out looking very discouraged. Pavlik kept giving him reasons to be as he chased his challenger down and punished him to the head and body. Rubio was in full survival mode, moving, defending, but risking nothing to fire back. Pavlik finally walked him down along the ropes and landed a right. Then another right found home followed by a one-two to the body. Pavlik was letting his hands flow more than simply letting them go as mixed his shots well and about broke Rubio in half at the bell with another one-two to the body.

In the corner between rounds, a very much in pain looking Rubio would argue with his corner that he didn't want anymore. They urged him on but it was no use and the fight was stopped.

Afterwards, Pavlik would say of fighting in his hometown "There's no place like home. I said all through camp there ain't going to be no pressure but we came here and there was pressure. Fighting for the first time in front of your hometown after a loss, you know you have pressure. But what a way to bounce back. It was electric here. I feel great. We put the [Hopkins] loss behind us. It was important to bounce back not physically but mentally. We had a very sturdy Mexican fight in Marco Antonio Rubio and tired him out and wore him out. It was a different Rubio than I expected. We expected him to open up more. But he was more defensive, more fighting to go the distance. It made it harder to land on him but we were able to land some clean shots."

Pavlik named Anthony Mundine, John Duddy, Arthur Abraham and Felix Sturm as potential future opponents for a return in May in the next of a potential three-fight run to finish the year.

On the undercard of the Madison Square Garden portion of the PPV card, hard punching southpaw prospect Matt Korobov improved to 4-0 with 4 KO's as he worked hard against Cory Jones (4-5, 1 KO) to score a last second KO in round 4. Jones showed the Russian amateur standout a new look as he fought very defensively, throwing movement at the young professional. Korobov stalked his opponent efficiently, landing left hand leads, feinting and coming back with the right and never overextending himself against an awkward opponent. It seemed he might be taken the distance for the first time until a compact right hook landed just before the bell on Jones' temple, sending him crashing face first to the canvas. The count would reach six before it was waved off.

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