Taylor, Pavlik Ready To Throw Punches

By Francis Walker
Updated: September 28, 2007

NEW YORK — Unbeaten WBC/WBO middleweight champion Jermain Taylor (27-0, 17 KOs) has had some unkind words for undefeated, No. 1-ranked contender Kelly Pavlik (31-0, 28 KOs) ever since their highly-anticipated championship fight was announced.

“All I see is just a strong fighter”, Taylor said during a recent conference call. “I don’t see nothing. He’s an average fighter. I’m glad the hype is there, but I don’t see him on my level.”

Taylor will have an opportunity to backup his statements when he faces Pavlik Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. Taylor will be making the fifth defense of his 160-pound championships on an HBO “World Championship Boxing” doubleheader beginning at 10:15 ET.

Unbeaten welterweight prospect Andre Berto (19-0, 16 KOs) will face David Estrada (21-3, 12 KOs) in a 10-round attraction in the televised co-feature.

Taylor vs. Pavlik is a very intriguing fight. Taylor is 29 years of age, compared to Pavlik being younger at 25. Although Pavlik is taller at 6-feet-2, Taylor can look him straight into his eyes being 6-feet-1.”

Pavlik is the puncher with a 90% career-knockout percentage. He’s also knocked out his last eight opponents and gathered the support of the boxing community as the legitimate No. 1 challenger following a sixth round TKO of previously unbeaten Edison Miranda in May.

Since twice beating Bernard Hopkins for the world middleweight championship two years ago, Taylor has been heavily criticized by his hometown supporters of Little Rock, Arkansas and the rest of the boxing front.

Taylor struggled during a 12-round draw with former undisputed world junior middleweight champion Winky Wright, struggled with former 154-pound world champion Kassim Ouma, and narrowly defeated the slick-boxing IBF junior middleweight champion Cory Spinks in May.

However, Taylor is still undefeated, remains a champion, and is extremely confident that he will beat Pavlik.

“After I whip him, hopefully I can get a little more credit,” Taylor said. “I’ve watched tapes of [Pavlik] and I give him credit. He’s a strong fighter fighting smaller guys.”

Pavlik is fully prepared and is ready to challenge Taylor. He’s had days in which he has sparred five, seven, and up to twelve rounds. Pavlik isn’t sparring anymore, as he’ll just work on maintaining his conditioning and weight, as he awaits his first world title shot on Saturday.

“I’ve had great sparring partners that are big, strong, and fast with good jabs and good balance,” said the younger native of Youngstown, Ohio. “I’ve fought guys that are strong and throw a bundle of punches.”

Added Pavlik: “Jermain is flat-footed. He’ll walk straight-in. I’ve been working on head movement and applying pressure.”

Taylor Eyes Calzaghe

Should Taylor defeat Pavlik, he has already announced that he will be moving up to 168 pounds to pursue a fight with WBO super middleweight champion, Joe Calzaghe.

“It will be a great fight and a great payday,” Taylor said. “If he’s the best, let’s fight. If the money’s right, I’m packing the wife and kids, and we’re on the way.”

In November, Calzaghe will challenge WBA/WBC 168-pound champion Mikkel Kessler in what could be the most anticipated boxing match in the history of the super middleweight division. More than 70,000 people are expected to fill the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.

Taylor can also be matched with the winner of the Roy Jones, Jr.-Felix Trinidad fight in January 2008. But first, Taylor must surpass the challenge of Pavlik, whom he fought in the amateurs.

“I don’t remember fighting him,” Taylor said. “I can tell you that we did fight and that I won. I can’t tell you that he hits hard.”