Kelly Pavlik retained both his WBC and WBO middleweight titles tonight during his third defence in his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio. The champion opted to fight centre ring giving up his style of fighting from distance using his trademark jab. The brave Espino came to fight and made his intentions clear from the start, as the champion offered his glove in the customary touch en’ up Espino welcomed him with a left hook. The fight was fought in the pocket both ripping body shots resulting in a point deduction from Espino.
In the fourth Pavlik started landing the uppercuts and dropped his challenger twice, the first of which Espino barley made the count, but he continued in gallant bravery. The fifth seen Espino go to the canvas for a third time, referee Steve Smoger stopped the fight shortly after the fight resumed due to continued punishment.
Espino, who starred in the reality show The Contender back in 2004, came into the fight on the back of a sixth-round stoppage of former two-time light-middleweight world champion Alejandro Garcia.
Pavlik’s year has been marred by health issues and accusations, though probably unfair, of ducking a fight with Paul Williams. The middleweight champion was twice forced to pull out scheduled fights with the punisher Williams the second of which was scheduled for Dec 5th. Williams saved the card by arranging a fight with Sergio Martinez, (a memorable battle Williams went on to win).
Days after Williams saving the Dec 5th card, the Pavlik camp announced a defence of the WBC/WBO middleweight championships against Miguel Espino, the date for the fight was only two weeks after the postponed Dec 5th date with Williams.
This left the Younstown fighter a champion lacking credibility and sent the blogosphere into meltdown, many fans believed the Champion was ducking the avoided Williams and these actions only strengthened their argument.
After tonight’s performance Pavlik praised Espino then called out Paul Williams saying "you claim to be the most avoided fighter in Boxing, well there is a guy right here in Youngstown, Ohio who wants to fight you” Bob Arum, the champions promoter went on to say the bout can be made for early next year.