For the typical fight fan, the names Marco Antonio Rubio and Michael Jennings belong to the list of boxing tomato cans. Miguel Cotto and Kelly Pavlik, however, conjure images of nouveau warrior fighters knocking on boxing greatness.
Tonight, both boxers will be in the ring as they take a stroll on Redemption Row.
Pavlik is coming into the ring having graduated from the Bernard Hopkins school of pugilism. Meanwhile, Cotto comes into the ring after a knockout loss to Antonio Margarito, who is currently suspended for illegal hand wraps by this training camp.
Though both boxers are coming off losses, Cotto gets a pass because of Margarito's illegal hand-wrapping techniques.
Around the water cooler, fight fans will be debating what these boxers have to show tonight that will erase memories of their losses, and affirm they are still contenders worth mentioning.
The yard sticks used to measure Pavlik and Cott are similar, and anything less than spectacular knockouts will be a failing grade. However, those spectacular knockouts will be only baby steps toward their return to their previously high boxing statuses.
In other words, until Pavilk or Cotto fight a top-five fighter in their respective weight classes, tonight's fights will be paid sparring session.
Pavlik has tremendous upside, but the proof is in the pudding, and he's proved very little lately.
A couple of months ago, I was getting ready to buy my Affliction T-shirt with the "ghost" likeness after his magnificent performances against Jermaine Taylor. I was telling everyone who would listen the Ghost was the real deal.
His poor performance against Bernard Hopkins was totally unexpected, and could be attributed to being brought up the ranks quickly. The Ghost better show up tonight or his career will be a ghost.
Cotto cannot afford to get dropped tonight. His chin must be sturdy while he walks on Redemption Row. However, the last time a fighter named Roy Jones, Jr., fought a rebound match (after his first loss to Antonio Tarver) he fought a relatively unknown fighter at that time in Glenn Johnson.
The outcome made Glenn Johnson a star.
I also remember Oscar De La Hoya picking a tune-up fight against Felix Strum and the judges had to bail Oscar after he was the one that got tuned up.
It's going be Redemption Row for Pavlik and Cotto tonight, or redemption for the unknown fighters Jennings and Rubio. Hopefully the Judges don't bail out the marquee fighters in these bouts.
I have Pavlik and Cotto in early round KO's.