by Lee Payton
While I'm not sure it was worth the price of the Pay-Per-View, at least now we know that Kelly Pavlik and Miguel Cotto are OK. It's a good thing too, because not only are they young and exciting, but they also attract large, passionate audiences whenever they fight. In short, we need them.
So while the guys across from them never really had a chance at winning, they did let us know that two of the sport's best are just fine.
The Middleweight Champion pounded his Mexican challenger, Marco Antonio Rubio, into verbal submission, after the conclusion of the 9th round. Really, one of corner men should have known it was time to pull the plug. I'm not sure if everyone caught it, but there was a last second whack to the body that went a long way in convincing Rubio to remain seated.
Pavlik wasn't especially accurate with his power on this night, but some of that was because his opponent was restricted to moving and covering up most of the fight. From the beginning, he showed little interest in taking a chance, as respect for the champ's power held his hands back throughout the contest.
The home crowd was treated to a handful of shocking blows during his usual steady work. They can now exhale. Kelly is still himself.
Is that enough to beat the other top middleweights in the world? I'll try to be quick.
I am not a fan of Arthur Abraham, but in my opinion, he`s terrible for Pavlik. The athletic edge is huge, and Pavlik is not exactly trustworthy on defense. I just don't think he can handle faster fighters. That's what it comes down to. Abraham would beat him, and probably by knockout.
Felix Sturm might be able to beat him in Germany. That`s actually a close fight. Not pretty, or action-packed, but competitive. Probably something I could go without seeing.
I've thought Paul Williams could beat Pavlik for a pretty long time now and nothing has changed. I think he is the quicker, tougher, better fighter. Of course, some will question how one could so boldly pick a guy who is mostly unproven at 160, against the division's number 1 fighter. Call it a hunch.
The other main event...
Photo © Marty Rosengarten / Ringsidephotos.com
Miguel Cotto picked up a strap he doesn't really need when he knocked out an unfamiliar British fighter named Michael Jennings, in the 5th round. A celebratory crowd filled Madison Square Garden for the return of the popular Puerto Rican warrior, and not one left disappointed or unsure. Their man is alright.
Though I`m sure he's glad it's over, Cotto looked fresh and powerful in slamming his hard left hooks to the body of an over-matched Jennings. He was properly alert without appearing fearful or in doubt of himself. Once it was clear he could do anything he wanted against a fleeing opponent, the finish was near.
He looked fine to me. What's next?
There were rumors that a rematch with Shane Mosley was on the table at one point. I think most fans see that fight as the most significant in the division, at the moment, but I'm not sure that's up next. It was a hard fight to pick in November of 2007, and it's no easier now. If pressed, I'd take Shane by late knockout in a fight he is losing.
Joshua Clottey is a top welterweight with a title, who also happens to be promoted by Bob Arum. He`s acceptable by HBO and doesn't demand a ton of cash for his services. He may have the inside track on an HBO date with Cotto, as things stand. I'll take Miguel by gutty late TKO, on hooks to the liver.
Andre Berto is another fine option for great TV. Cotto is the more professional of the two, but maybe fiery athleticism could mess with that enough to create something memorable. I'd love this fight. You have to go with the more experienced pug in a free-for-all.
The undercard: Local favourite, middleweight John Duddy, outpointed Matt Vanda over 10 rounds to earn a unanimous decision. Atypical of most Duddy fights, it was a rather dull affair, that saw him popping a jab and fighting responsibly. It wasn`t until the 10th round that we saw his head snapping back, the way we`re used to.
I understand the point of the PPV, but this would have been perfect on one of the national networks, or as a special feature on ESPN. It's a shame. A card like this one could have been used to create fans.
- e-mail Lee Payton
Sunday, February 22, 2009
by Lee Payton