Taylor vs. Pavlik: Unbeaten Champion vs. Unbeaten Challenger

By Francis Walker
Updated: September 9, 2007

Gloves NEW YORK — Jermain Taylor is preparing for perhaps his biggest challenge since winning the world middleweight championship more than two years ago. Taylor (27-0, 17 KOs) defends his WBC/WBO middleweight titles against unbeaten No. 1-ranked challenger Kelly Pavlik (31-0, 28 KOs). The fight should be an exciting “boxer vs. puncher” fight.

Taylor vs. Pavlik will be televised on HBO’s “World Championship Boxing,” Saturday, September 29, Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, at 10:15 pm ET.

“Taylor is a great athlete,” said Taylor’s promoter Lou DiBella of DiBella Entertainment. “It’s that same superb athleticism that beat Hopkins that will beat Pavlik. Jermain is a better athlete. He uses his jab and follows it with big punches. Pavlik can punch, but he’s not as good an athlete as Taylor.”

The fight between Taylor and Pavlik could be one of the best fights of 2007. Taylor is an unbeaten world middleweight champion. Pavlik is an undefeated world title contender that has received raved reviews for knocking out opponents that have never been KO’d — including previously unbeaten, hard-punching middleweight contender Edison Miranda (TKO 7) in May.

“Pavlik’s punching power, aggressiveness, and the fact that if you leave yourself open he can hurt you, are his strong points. But Taylor’s jab and speed is too superior,” DiBella added.

Taylor was credited for lifting the undisputed world middleweight championship from Bernard Hopkins (W 12) in July 2005. In his first defense in December 2005, Taylor earned a repeat 12-round decision over Hopkins in the rematch.

“As good as Bernard is, his style was most vulnerable against an upcoming young fighter like Taylor. Bernard is no ordinary 40-year-old fighter. When you saw Hopkins move up to light-heavyweight to fight Antonio Tarver and Winky Wright, you saw how great a fighter he is.”

Taylor’s previous three fights were against southpaws (left-handed fighters) that moved up in weight from the 154-pound division. Taylor went the distance against former IBF junior middleweight champion Kassim Ouma and fought former undisputed world 154-pound champion Winky Wright to a disputed 12-round draw.

Taylor’s fourth defense of the WBO/WBC championships came against current IBF junior middleweight champion Cory Spinks. Taylor struggled to land his lightening-quick left jab and right-hand follow against Spinks. Taylor couldn’t dominate the illusive Spinks, but won via split-decision.

“Overall, Taylor has fought five of the best defensive fighters in boxing,” DiBella said.

Regardless as to how “bad” Taylor has looked in his previous few fights, his promoter Lou DiBella of DiBella Entertainment is optimistic that his fighter will dominate the hard-punching Pavlik.

“Jermain wants this fight,” DiBella said. “He wants to dominate.”

DiBella Wants Taylor vs. Roy Jones, Jr. or Joe Calzaghe

Taylor publicly stated that Pavlik will be his last fight as a middleweight — win, lose, or draw. DiBella has plans for Taylor to move up the super middleweight class to fight either Joe Calzaghe or Roy Jones, Jr. next year.

“Either one will fight Jermain,” DiBella stated. “If Joe Calzaghe beats Mikkel Kessler in November, we’d have to make a decision as to whether Jermain fights Calzaghe because he’s advancing in age. If Kessler beats Calzaghe, Kessler would not be Taylor’s first fight at 168 pounds. There are a lot of other guys for Taylor to fight at 168 pounds.”

Joe Calzaghe is currently boxing’s longest reigning world champion. He’s made 20 successful WBO title defenses since beating Chris Eubank (W12) in October 1997. Calzaghe will challenge unified WBC/WBA champion Mikkel Kessler in what should be the biggest super middleweight championship fight in boxing history as more than 70,000 fans are expected to crowd Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.

Another possibility is having Taylor fight the winner of the Roy Jones, Jr. vs. Felix Trinidad showdown in January 2008.

“If Taylor beats Pavlik and Jones beats Trinidad, we’d be very interested in making a Taylor vs. Jones fight,” DiBella said.