Fight Night at the MGM

By Tom Donelson
Updated: February 17, 2008

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Saturday night in Las Vegas, Kelly Pavlik and Jermain Taylor fought at a catch weight of 166. In the old days, champions often engaged in over weight fights against challengers to build the gates for future bouts.

And the winner of this fight would certainly gained access to future pay days and even loser, depending how he performed, could see his future enhanced as well.

In their first fight, both men had each other down, but Pavlik’s last volley ended the fight. Taylor saw his 0 disappear and the pundits wrote that Taylor’s career a mirage. This has been Taylor’s curse.

Despite beating Bernard Hopkins, Kassim Ouma and Cory Spinks while drawing with Winky Wright; Taylor was criticized for just barely winning or not winning impressively.

Yet, he fought two certain Hall of Fame fighters and four former or present world champions. Cory Spinks was supposed to be the easy fight and Taylor never got credit for fighting some of boxing’s best.

His first six rounds against Pavlik in their first fight were some of Taylor’s finest work and he nearly ended the fight in the second round. What defeated Taylor was Pavlik’s determination.

Pavlik survived 35 unanswered punches in the second round and Taylor failure to finished him proved his undoing. In their second fight, Taylor fought for his redemption and this showed in his demeanor.

In the first round, Taylor and Pavlik competed in a battle of jabs but both fighters nailed each other with their patented right hand.

In rounds two and three, Taylor’s quick hands and rapid jab allowed him to poke his right through Pavlik defense. In the fourth round, Pavlik’s jab began to even out Taylor advantage and quick hands.

From this point, it became a grind it out fight as Pavlik took Taylor best shots and kept moving forward.

From rounds four through nine, Taylor’s more explosive combinations were drowned out by Pavlik’s volume of punches. Taylor was the more accurate puncher, but Pavlik threw more punches and connected more as well.

Taylor did have one thing in his favor, he had gone 12 rounds whereas Pavlik had never traveled beyond nine rounds. In the 10th round and the first two minutes of the 11th round, Pavlik’s combinations lost steam and Taylor’s combinations appeared to have more pop.

With a minute left in the 11th, Taylor retreated for the first time to the ropes and Pavlik delivered the decisive punch of the night. A right hand to the body took the sails out of Taylor and he spent the last 40 remaining seconds surviving and exhausted.

Taylor went after Pavlik for the first minute in the 12th, but Pavlik’s persistence took the final two minutes. Pavlik won the decision, but Taylor gained his reputation back. He fought one of his best fights, but he lost.

Pavlik is an excellent fighter and maybe on his way to greatness. Taylor lost to an excellent fighter and there is no shame in that. What Taylor showed that he could learn and adapt from a losing performance and has a bright future as a Super Middleweight.

Pavlik and Taylor are two fine American fighters who can compete with the world best.

On the undercards, four of the best super flyweights met. Christian Mijares fought Jose Navarro in a fight that would please any boxing purist. Navarro kept attacking and averaged over 100 punches per round.

Mijares’ defensive skills parried off many of Navarro attacks. Navarro actually connected on less punches and that was because Mijares’ skills at moving his body and head to deflect Navarro’s power while forcing him to hit arms and in some cases, air.

Mijares won a split decision to keep his version of the Super Flyweight title and while each round was close, often he proved to just at tab bit better. This was a fight determined by inches.

In the other fight of Super Flyweights greats, Fernando Montiel punched Martin Castillo into submission. In the first minute of the first round, Montiel nailed Castillo with a left hook that sent him sprawling.

At the end of the third round, Montiel nailed Castillo with another left hook. If Mijares-Navarro was a boxing classic, this was a slug fest with Montiel’s power determining the results.

Castillo, one of the best flyweights over the past decade, showed that maybe those decades have taken their toll. From the opening bell, he was never in the fight and Montiel’s power dominated the bout.

Montiel put his claim as one of the Flyweights bests, if not best.

Saturday evening saw Pavlik take a big step forward to stardom and Taylor regained his place as a fighter with missions left to accomplished. The Super Flyweights picture became clearer as Montiel and Mijares stake their claims as some of boxing’s best puglistic in the lower weight division.