September’s middleweight championship bout between Jermain “Bad Intentions” Taylor and Kelly “the Ghost” Pavlik was one of the boxing highlights of 2007. Taylor, the undefeated champion, had Pavlik, the undefeated challenger, down and almost out in the 2nd. But Pavlik survived, and after the round, as his corner was working on him, he smiled beatifically and said, “I’m good, I’m good.” He was indeed; showing no ill effects, he fought Taylor on better than even terms until the 7th, when Pavlik broke through and knocked Taylor out. This video shows the second and seventh rounds:
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Pavlik, now middleweight champion, is from Youngstown, Ohio. He still lives and trains in the old neighborhood, and his otherwise-unknown trainer, Jack Loew, has a day job sealing asphalt driveways. Shortly after the first Taylor fight, Pavlik had what could have been a career-ending accident when, changing windows at his house, he somehow put both arms through a glass pane and needed 108 stitches. Fortunately, no tendons were cut and the Taylor rematch is on for tomorrow night.
Tomorrow night’s fight, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, is on HBO. Fight fans have finally concluded that Pavlik is for real, and he is now a strong betting favorite. The fight is a non-title bout at 166 pounds, which neither fighter should have trouble making. Even though Pavlik’s titles are not at stake, middleweight bragging rights are, and fight fans are anticipating the fight eagerly. My wife is not exactly a boxing fan, but she enjoys the excitement of a big match and we toyed briefly with the idea of going to Las Vegas for the fight. But that didn’t make sense on the heels of the Book Award dinner in New York Monday night, so we’ll be watching on HBO tomorrow evening. There are two title bouts at lower weight classes on the undercard. It should be a fun night of boxing.
UPDATE: It was a good technical fight, but not as exciting as the first one. Taylor came out looking more focused than in September. He also showed more respect for Pavlik’s punching power, being careful all night to stay off the ropes. Taylor thought that one of his problems in the first bout was that he punched himself out in the early rounds–one of the announcers said last night that Taylor had thrown 35 consecutive unanswered punches in the second round, when it looked like Pavlik was done for–and he clearly tried to conserve his energy throughout the fight. He tried too hard; in the end, while he counterpunched effectively, Taylor didn’t throw or land enough punches to win. Neither fighter went down, and Pavlik won a fairly clear-cut unanimous decision.
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