Saturday night on HBO's World Championship Boxing there is a boxing rarity that should not be missed; a pick 'em type fight between two elite boxers in their prime.
No disrespect to the Edison Miranda vs Lucian Bute match up on the card, but the fight everybody is talking about is Kelly Pavlik vs Sergio Martinez for what is more or less the undisputed middleweight championship of the world.
Martinez (44-2-2, 24 KO) is in the strange position of being at the peak of his career despite having not won either of his last two outings. Last year he was the victim of one of the most strangely scored matches I have ever seen in his majority draw with Kermit Cintron.
Along with most observers, I felt that Martinez won easily. Not only did he score at will the entire night, but he nearly had a knockout when the ref ruled that Cintron barely beat a 10 count at the end of the seventh round.
There is no need to remind hardcore fans what happened in his next fight. In a true war with P4P contender Paul Williams, Martinez put on a boxing clinic but again came up short according to the judges, losing a majority decision that involved some more controversial scoring. Despite the loss, being involved in such a competitive match with the man many consider to be most feared fighter in the sport did nothing but raise his profile.
Pavlik (36-1-0, 32 KO) in some ways has experienced the opposite situation in his last two fights. He has defended his title with ease, but against fringe contenders that failed to provide much competition. He has failed to win back the respect that he lost to Bernard Hopkins in a light heavyweight bout the fight before.
By the way, why is it that Pavlik took so much heat for that loss? Nobody seemed to get down on Juan Manuel Marquez when he went up two weight classes and got embarrassed by Floyd Mayweather Jr. Why not give Pavlik the same benefit of the doubt?
To make matters worse, Pavlik was criticized for allegedly dodging a scheduled match up with Williams last year. An unfortunate situation considering he was suffering from a Staph infection that nearly took his life.
Pavlik has admitted that these particular criticisms have got to him a bit. Boxing fans have never been the most understanding bunch though, and if Kelly wants to rebuild his rep, he needs to do it with his right hand, not through the media
This is one of those fights where the result is really impossible to predict. I doubt many people would be shocked if Martinez's speed and athletic ability was far too much for Pavlik and he cruises to an easy victory. However, I also don't think it would be shocking if Pavlik's power punches find the mark on Martinez, who despite his speed can be hit because he fights with his hands down, and he scores a knock out.
Hopefully we will see a little bit of both, with Martinez's speed and Pavlik's power winning them both rounds respectively in a close and exciting fight. If that happens, you may just be watching the fight of the year on HBO this weekend.