Pavlik-Taylor II: Same Sparks, No Fire

Jerry OslanCorrespondent IFebruary 18, 2008

The irony of the rematch between middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik and former middleweight champ Jermain Taylor is pretty clear.

Their first fight was an explosive, dramatic battle that was one of the best of 2007. Both  fighters exchanged bombs and both fighters tasted canvas. When the smoke finally cleared, Kelly Pavlik claimed an upset win that just six months before the fight nobody would have thought possible. And it was all on regular HBO.

This time, the same stars were back and the same formula was there. But for whatever reason, a fight that should have been a can't-miss event, the kind of fight you show casual sports fans to get the interested, never really got hyped enough. Within boxing fan communities the excitement level wasn't what it should have been. Justified or not, the promotion seemed lazy. Even ticket sales were paltry with nine-thousand and change being seated at the event.

It was an omen of things to come. This fight was a rough and tumble measured battle, with both fighters trying to pick their shots. You got the impression that things could explode at any minute, but the fight just seemed stuck in second-gear. It was a good fight and I don't want to degrade the effort put forth by either man. But the fact is that it just wasn't as good as the first one. Oh yeah, and we had to pay fifty dollars for this one. The last point is particularly hard to swallow given the mixed quality of undercards, particularly Hearns-Astorga which was an offensive mismatch that never would have seen the light of broadcast were it not for the Hearns name. 

So like many sequels are cursed to be, it was inferior, but more expensive.

It's funny how you can put some boxers in and get the same kind of fight everytime. Other times you may never get the same fight twice. Unfortunately as far as Pavlik and Taylor are concerned, I don't think they'll ever get that first fight again. And that means that the chances of them meeting in the future are slim. But this is boxing, so that's not to suggest in any way that it won't happen.

For now, Taylor fans have to be happy with the fact that he's proven he stand up to Pavlik's best shots and fire back. Pavlik supporters can now point to the fact that their man is not just a one-dimensional KO-puncher: he can go the distance and pace himself while fighting strategically. 

While Taylor's next move is uncertain, he does plan to move up away from the middleweight division. It's just as well now that he isn't the man to beat there anymore. If he can prove himself with the added weight then there are some interesting possibilities in the future.

Pavlik seems headed for a big payday against Felix Trinidad who can't seem to stay retired. My guess is that a couple of Pavlik right hands will do the trick. After that he's looking at the fan-favorite brawler John Duddy, but there's been talk of Pavlik wanting a full unification of the middleweight crown. Not an unreasonable goal for someone with Pavlik's skills.

So even if the second fight wasn't the barn-burner the first one was, it proved that Pavlik's win was no fluke and that Taylor is still a force to be reckoned with.

It also proved that you can't really price a fight for PPV appropriately until after the fact.