|Pavlik Scores the Decision Over Taylor in a Close One - Boxing
By Gabriel Montoya at ringside Las Vegas (Feb 18, 2008) Doghouse Boxing (Photo © German Villasenor)
Before a near sellout, boisterous crowd of 9,700, Jermain Taylor entered the ring to boos and cheers. He bounded into the ring as the roof began to shake from the volume of the Pavlik supporters. The Ohio native came charging into the ring, raised a fist and the crowd went wild. The moment of truth for Jermain Taylor and Kelly Pavlik was upon us. The title wasn’t on the line tonight but someone’s legacy was about to get solidified.
Round one booth men met at center ring and traded briefly. Taylor let a big jab and hook go but it missed the mark.
Taylor looked to be trying to slide to the side and slip a bit. Pavlik was typically aggressive. Taylor landed a left upstairs as Pavlik got one off upstairs. This was looking to be a great fight. Pavlik landed a big right hand and a hook that shook Taylor but the Arkansas native took it well. Another right landed moments later. They traded at the bell and Pavlik looked to be taking control.
Round two and they met at center ring again. Pavlik started in with the double jab again. Pavlik was getting off right hands that were blocked but with serious heat on them. Taylor backed up Pavlik with a one-two but still waited too long to get off. A big counter right from Taylor was followed by another big one off a blocked left to the body by Pavlik. Taylor landed some good jabs as well but Pavlik was in charge. A right at the bell by Taylor was more flash than substance. Pavlik laughed it off.
Pavlik looked to retake control of the momentum to start the third with jabs and lead rights. Taylor looking to land his hook more than in recent fights, with Pavlik winning the jab contest. But it would be Taylor who took control in this round, landing good rights and a couple lefts to the body along with a double jab with purpose that won him the round.
In the fourth, Pavlik came out hard working his double jab. Taylor landed a hook right combo off a Pavlik body shot. This was the best Taylor has looked in years. The action was center ring until a right by Pavlik prompted a left by Taylor and it was on. Pavlik landed three rights to close out the round but Taylor took them well and looked to fight back as the bell sounded.
Whereas Taylor looked to move left early, he began moving back in the fifth. Taylor was making Pavlik miss the hard shots though the jabs were getting through. Every time Pavlik looked to move forward and gain momentum, Taylor fought hard and with purpose. They traded down the stretch but Taylor got the better of it.
The pace slowed in the sixth with Pavlik working behind the jab. Hard rights were landed by both men and Taylor got his jab going again. Two beautiful body shots by Pavlik. An uppercut by Pavlik was met with a one-two by Taylor right away. A hard chopping right by Taylor was the best shot of the night.
Over the middle rounds, a brutal battle was waged. Taylor moving, jabbing and landing the bigger flashier shots but Pavlik landed the more brutal, more punishing blows.
By the eighth, Taylor looked a bit tired and worse for wear. Pavlik was the more active guy, chopping away at Taylor’s head and his body. In the championship rounds, the action ramped up as both sides looked to stake claim to the lead and the win. Pavlik kept getting hit with Taylor’s jab but was making the right by Taylor miss along with the hook. Taylor for his part was ripping shots to the body. Towards the end of the eleventh round, Pavlik stayed along the ropes too long and Pavlik dropped a big right hand on him. Taylor was hurt but he fought back gamely.
With the fight possibly out of reach with the exception of a knockout, Pavlik came out hard looking to capitalize on the last round. But to Taylor’s credit he fought gamely and the action heated up to the final moments as both men let it all hang out down the stretch.
Afterwards, Taylor spoke respectfully of Pavlik. “I’m not going to sit up here and complain. I give all credit to Kelly. He fought a great fight,” said Taylor.
As for his future, “I don’t know man. I’m going to take my ass home and go fishing.”
When asked why he wasn’t protesting the decision Taylor said “I don’t want to sit up here like Hopkins and complain. He kind of stole my thunder a bit and I won’t do that to Kelly. He’s a great young fighter.”
After the fight in the ring, Pavlik told Taylor “This fight will happen again.”
Taylor seemed keen on the idea. “I’d fight him any time. As many times as you’d want me to.”
Lou DiBella would add to that sentiment, “If we had great fights like this every time out, we couldn’t have any problems with MMA.”
Many questioned Taylor’s trainer Ozell Nelson’s ability to get the best out of Taylor. He would simply say of his near success, “I think the performance speaks for itself,” said Ozell Nelson.
Pavlik showed nothing but respect for Taylor afterwards. “Game plans change. Tonight I had to use my brain. Everything I was trying to do he would counter. I thought it was a great fight.”
Taylor showed much more skill than in their previous fight. Pavlik spoke to this with respect. “He slid off the ropes every time I got near. He stayed out of the corner. He countered off my jab.”
“My single jab was landing,” he would continue, “My double jab wasn’t landing tonight. I thought I was popping his head back enough to get the right hand off.”
As for his future at middleweight? “I don’t want to give up the belts just yet. We’ll see how long I can stay at this weight.”
“The middleweight title is sacred trust,” promoter Bob Arum would say, “A lot of great fighters have held the belt. It isn’t the type of title you give up unless you can’t make the weight.”
“It feels good to get it out of the way,” Pavlik would say of going full twelve rounds tonight for the very first time. “It feels good to go twelve rounds with Jermain Taylor who has gone the distance with so many great fighters.”
Gabriel at: Coyotefeather@gmail.com
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