Dawson, Berto, and Pavlik: Three Stars Born

By Tom Donelson
Updated: October 2, 2007

Gloves IOWA CITY, Ia. — Last Saturday night, boxing would would see a changing of the guard. Jermain Taylor came into his bout needing a big fight to secure his own legacy.

Instead of being the man who defeated Bernard Hopkins in two close and controversial fights, Taylor wanted to beat and beat Kelly Pavlik bad.

A big victory would not just secure him as the best middleweight in the world but possible a big fight with the winner of the Mikkel Kessler-Joe Calzaghe bout.

Taylor came out jabbing and with superior hand speed, nailing Pavlik. Pavlik kept moving forward through the hail of left jabs and started to reach Taylor with his own jab near the end of the round.

The first round was a wash but the second round determined the fight.

Pavlik began the round with solid jabbing and appeared to have the round in hand but a Taylor right sent his head 180 degrees and Pavlik’s body appeared sprawling in four different directions.

After getting up, Pavlik looked ready to go and Taylor tried to finish him off. For one minute, Pavlik survived barrages of quick punches headed his direction but he managed to stay standing and even countered at the end.

Taylor had his chance to finish the tough Ohioan but he couldn’t do it.

Rounds three through six had one pattern: Pavlik threw the most punches, but it was Taylor who was the more accurate puncher.

Pavlik kept moving forward but Taylor’s superior hand speed countered the slower Pavlik.

After six rounds, Taylor had the lead on the scorecards.

In a tough, close fight, Taylor’s hand speed and accuracy gave the native Arkansan the advantages on the scorecards.

Taylor jabbed Pavlik at will in the opening moments of the seventh round and appeared to have control of the round.

With a minute left in the round, a Pavlik right hand nailed a retreating Taylor. He never saw the right and he staggered back into the rope.

Pavlik pursued and a left uppercut followed by a three-punch barrage sent Taylor down in the corner. He sunk in the corner and unable to get up. This was the difference in the fight. Pavlik survived his knockdown in the second round but Taylor did not survive his knockdown in the seventh.

Pavlik won this fight despite being nearly out in the second round and a bloody nose. He had trouble breathing at times but he never quit his game plan — pressuring Taylor and never quit moving forward.

Pavlik got nailed with nearly half of Taylor strikes, but his strength allowed him to stay in the fight and outlast his opponent. He has the tools to be a superstar in either the Middleweight and Super Middleweight division.

At 6-feet-2, Pavlik is tall for a Middleweight and he has the potential to move up to Super Middleweight and even light heavyweight. A tough fighter with knockout punches, Pavlik has the quality that makes boxing fans drool.

With 29 knockouts in his 32 wins, Pavlik may be the one American that can beat the European best in both the Middleweights and Super Middleweights.

In the first fight, Andre Berto took a step forward. The young welterweight prospect was coming off an unimpressive win over Cosme Rivera, a fight that saw Berto having to get off the canvas.

David Estrada has fought some of the best in the division and would be a tough match for Berto. Estrada, a strong welterweight, loves to come forward and pressure.

Berto began this fight with accurate jab and the first round showed his advantages. Berto had the hand speed and better techniques. Throughout the fight, Berto’s accuracy and power gave the young prospect the advantages.

The first three rounds appeared close but in the fourth, Berto took control and each round saw Estrada being worn down little by little.

In most rounds, Estrada began the rounds hard, but Berto ended most rounds with scorching combinations.

The eighth round saw both fighters going toe to toe with Berto gaining the advantage, but Estrada nailed Berto with some solid left hooks of his own.

In the next round, Estrada looked like a beaten fighter.

No longer capable of hurting Berto, Estrada was fighting on fumes.

Berto never gone beyond ten rounds but in the eleventh round, Berto nailed Estrada with a right hand uppercut and Estrada went down. He barely got up but the end was near and Berto closed the show witha serious of shots before the fight was stopped.

Meanwhile, Chad Dawson defended his Light Heavyweight title against Epifano Mendoza.Mendoza was a late replacement and after the opening moments, it was obvious that Dawson’s skill level exceeded Mendoza.

Dawson did what champions are supposed to do when faced with inferior talent, he kicked butt. He showed every punch in the book and while the fight lasted four rounds, each minute showed the same pattern as the previous minute.

Dawson moved forward and threw fast accurate combinations, reducing Mendoza on the defensive.

Last Saturday night, we saw three young fighters make that next step.Dawson won his fight impressively and impressive wins will allow him new options.

One option is to move down to 168 pounds and take on the winner of the Calzaghe-Kessler bout.

Or he could clean out the light heavyweight, which includes fighting Antonio Tarver or even entice Bernard Hopkins.

Kelly Pavlik is a hard punching fighter, but he is not a brawer.

With an effective jab, he unleashes a variety of punches including hooks, straight rights and devastating uppercuts.Pavlik’s boxing skills compliment his toughness.

Andre Berto also took major steps.

What he showed was the ability to learn from past fights.Against Rivera, he fought like a raw brawler and forced to go the distance against a inferior opponent.

In his fight with Estrada, he moved up in class and made major strides. He boxed and used sharp short punches to beat Estrada to the punch and his jab controlled the fight.

Three fights and three stars born.