Pavlik KOs Taylor, Wins WBC/WBO Middleweight Crowns

By Francis Walker
Updated: October 1, 2007

Gloves NEW YORK — Kelly Pavlik has realized his dream of becoming a world champion. In one of the most exciting and decisive finishes to a world middleweight championship fight, Pavlik (32-0, 29 KOs) survived a second round knockdown to score a come-from-behind knockout victory against previously unbeaten Jermain Taylor (27-1, 17 KOs) to win the unified WBC/WBO middleweight championships at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. on Saturday.

The end came at 2:14 into the seventh round after Pavlik backed Taylor into a corner having landed a solid right hand his chin. Pavlik unloaded a series of uppercuts, hooks, jabs, body punches, and was all over Taylor, who slumped into a downward position and was literally out on his knees.

“I knew that if I caught Taylor he would go,” Pavlik said.

Taylor was out cold. Even Referee Steve Smoger didn’t even bother to issue a count. All three judges had Taylor leading 58-55 (twice) and 59-54 at the time of the stoppage.

“I think either in the fourth or fifth round I hurt Taylor in the corner,” said Pavlik, who felt he was winning the fight. “I thought I was out-jabbing him and catching him with the right hand.”

Pavlik was the first big, legitimate middleweight title challenger that Taylor has fought since his beat Bernard Hopkins in a rematch nearly two years ago. He also has a reputation for knocking out fighters with winning records that have never been stopped.

Pavlik has knocked out 11 of his last 12 opponents dating back to 2005.

“I knocked Taylor out the same way I knocked out my last two opponents,” Pavlik said. “Zetuche, when I hit him with a right hand in a corner he was out. Miranda, whe I hit him with a right hand in a corner he was out.”

“When I hit Taylor with a right hand in a corner,” Pavlik added, “I saw Taylor’s knees buckled and he was out.”

Taylor had a lot of prove heading into his highly anticipated bout with Pavlik. He twice out-pointed Bernard Hopkins and ended his 10-year grasp of the world middleweight championship in 2005.

But Taylor struggled in recent title defenses against junior middleweight southpaws Winky Wright (D 12), Kassim Ouma (W 12), and Cory Spinks (W 12).

Taylor was aggressive with his left jab that was absent in recent fights. Taylor, who stood directly in front of Pavlik’s power, was in such control of the fight, he stunned Pavlik with an over hand right before knocking him down in round two. Taylor landed a series of left and right hooks and uppercuts that sent his challenger sprawling on his knees.

“He has hand speed and he can punch too,” Pavlik said. “I dropped my hands and leaned forward and he caught me with a solid shot.”

The 29 year-old Taylor, of Little Rock, Arkansas, applied continuous pressure after Pavlik had returned to his feet. Taylor surprisingly continued to overpower Pavlik with solid shots, but the younger 25 year-old from Youngstown, Ohio survived the champion’s onslaught by clinching and blocking punches.

Pavlik put more of an emphasis on his left jab in rounds three and four. He pressured Taylor into a corner with jabs and barrages of hard blows to the chagrin of Taylor’s trainer Emmanuel Steward. It was Steward who sensed Taylor’s middleweight championship was slowly slipping away.

“I said to Jermain the title is slipping away,” Steward said. “We need to pick it up a little bit. I saw it in Pavlik’s eyes. I told Jermain that were losing the world middleweight title and that it was slipping away.”

Taylor was very effective when he doubled his left jab and moved around the ring. However, when Taylor backed straight into the ropes, Pavlik converted himself into a punching machine.

“I hit him with some flush punches all night long,” Pavlik said. “He has a hell of a chin, but I knew eventually my power would catch up to him.”

Pavlik and Taylor exchanged punches around the ring. Taylor looked to offset Pavlik’s busy punch output by throwing jabs and countering effectively. Pavlik, who threw more jabs than Taylor, looked to back Taylor into a corner and unload with an intense accumulation of power punches.

Berto Victorious In WBC/IBF Welterweight Title Eliminator

24 year-old Andre Berto (20-0, 17 KOs) can no longer be referred to as a prospect. Berto officially became a highly ranked contender in both the WBC and IBF following an emphatic knockout victory against David Estrada (21-4, 12 KOs). The fight came to an end at 1:17 into the 11th round.

“We knew he was going to come straight-forward,” Berto said. “I just wanted to use my jab and break him down. I knew he was going to burn himself out.”

Berto, who suffered a knockdown during a decisive 10-round decision against Cosume Rivera in July, fought a very game opponent in the 28 year-old Estrada. His previous losses came against Ishe Smith, Shame Mosley, and a KO defeat by current IBF welterweight champion Kermit Cintron (TKO by 10) in April 2006.

Berto was tested in this fight. He was forced to fight gong backward, as Estrada kept coming forward. But Berto was the better fighter. He jabbed and threw straighter punches than Estrada. Berto was more consistent in putting his punches together in combinations prior to earning the knockout.

In other bouts: Welterweight Carlos Quintana (24-8, 19 KOs) fought for the first time since his loss to WBA welterweight title loss to Miguel Cotto in December 2006. Quintana stopped Christopher Henry (23-19, 17 KOs) at 2:46 into the fourth round.

26 year-old heavyweight prospect, 6-foot-4 Chazz Witherspoon (20-0, 14 KOs) earned a TKO victory of Ron Guerrero (19-15-3, 13 KOs) when the journeyman did not come out of his corner to start the fifth round.

Super middleweight Omar Sheika (27-8, 18 KOs) TKO’d Tiwon Taylor (26-14-1, 19 KOs) at 2:25 into the fourth round.

28 year-old middleweight prospect Ronald Hearns (16-0, 13 KOs), the son of the legendary Thomas” Hitman” Hearns, knocked out Robert Kamya (16-8, 4 KO) at 2:42 to record his ninth first round knockout victory as a professional. It was the younger Hearns’ 11th knockout in 12 fights.

Heavyweight Terry Smith (30-4, 18 KOs) surprisingly dropped a six-round decision to Robert Hawkins (22-9, 7 KOs).

Hawkins entered the bout riding a five-bout losing streak at the hands of Sam Peter (L 10), Kevin Johnson (L 8), David Tua (W 10), John Estrada (L 6), and Jean-Francois Bergeron (L 10). If a fighter loses six consecutive bouts, they can be placed on medical suspension. However, if a fighter suffers three consecutive knockout losses, that fighter may also lose their license to fight.

The three judges at ringside favored Hawkins 60-54, 59-55, and 58-44 in an attempt to save Hawkins’ boxing career.