Saturday, February 21, 2009

Pavlik/Cotto: Top Rank PPV Predictions

Attemping to get back in the win column, Kelly Pavlik and Miguel Cotto (pictured right) are both returning to action on tonight's Top Rank PPV. Pavlik puts his middleweight crown on the line against veteran Marco Antonio Rubio, while Cotto attempts to get back on track against unheralded Brit, Michael Jennings. Check out what the The Boxing Bulletin writers have to say about how the two main events will play out.

Also be sure to read Jeff Pryor's article from last month, The Audacity of Imperfection, which talks about fighters who lost for the first time in 2008.

I've not seen Jennings, but based on what I've looked up about him, my guess is that he is in for a beating. I have no doubt that he is a brave fighter, so I think he'll make it to the second half, but I'll be surprised if he has the skills to take advantage of whatever doubts may be left in Cotto's mind after being beaten into submission by Margarito. I expect Miguel to box patiently in the early going, and then start pushing forward when he realizes that he is in command. Miguel Cotto stops him in 9 and his fans rejoice.

The Pavlik-Rubio fight is much more interesting, but I still feel like the challenger has little to no chance of actually winning.

Rubio is an in-fighter who isn't big on defense. I'm not sure he's going to be able to close the distance in order to do his best work. Pavlik could really just stand his ground and 1-2 him to death, but he may be tempted to go forward, and that's how things could get tougher than they need to be. Both men prefer to come forward, and when that is the case, the man who backs up usually loses. I think the champion will eventually settle down, and win the fight in a spectacular way. Kelly Pavlik ends matters in 6 rounds. -Lee Payton

I've seen approximately zero footage of Michael Jennings, so I can't say conclusively how well he'll do against Miguel Cotto. Cotto punishes fighters who aren't at the elite level though. Looking at the Brit's record, we see that he 1) probably doesn't have much power, and 2) lost to the only decent boxer he fought.

He might be a durable guy, but given Cotto's history and Jennings' record, this has mid-rounds KO written all over it.

Kelly Pavlik's coming back down to middleweight, and back to the type of opponent he loves to fight: one that's going to be in front of him. Marco Antonio Rubio is a tough character who shouldn't be taken lightly. Pavlik doesn't take anything lightly, and he's favored in a firefight. Kelly loves knocking opponents out in rounds 6-8 and I see the same thing happening here. -Michael Nelson

I should imagine that if someone named Young Mutley could defeat Michael Jennings then someone named Miguel Cotto shouldn't have much problem doing the same.

The real interest here is not whether Cotto wins, but how well he looks doing so. Judging by interviews, Cotto seemed to be still psychologically strong immediately after his defeat to Margarito. Now with the added cloudiness as to whether he was up against a stacked deck that night, I would expect him to have few lingering mental effects. If his body has healed from the beating he took, then Jennings has a very steep hill to climb in trying to beat Cotto. Should the Englishman pull, what would be, a massive upset, it's safe to say that Cotto's career as we know it is over.

Bottom line, I would expect Miguel Cotto to win inside the distance, this time on the other end of a severe beating.

Having been ringside for Rubio's last performance, his split decision win over Enrigue Ornelas on the undercard of Pavlik-Hopkins, I must say I wasn't terribly impressed. Though I had seen him fight before and been mildly intrigued by his punching power, it would seem that while Rubio is tough and has decent pop, he lacks the polish to truly take advantage of those traits.

In his previous losses he has shown he can be outworked over twelve, by a feather fisted volume puncher like Kassim Ouma and knocked out in one round by a decent punching Kofi Jantuah. I would wager that Pavlik hits harder than the latter, and throws as many punches as the former. Not a great combination for Rubio.

Like Cotto, the wild card of course comes in the form of Pavlik's psyche. Though he has been loathe to make excuses for his performance against Hopkins this past October, it is clear that Pavlik feels there were extenuating circumstances which led to his downfall. While Hopkins would have been hard to beat with or without the travails of his week leading into that fight, they at least afford him an excuse within his own mind to explain away the performance and allow him to retain some semblance of self esteem.

I would expect Pavlik to get back on track in an entertaining bout. Perhaps a comeback not as smooth as Cotto's should be, but a rousing effort that see's the Youngstown native put away a tough and determined Rubio in exciting and explosive fashion. -Jeff Pryor

Cotto should destroy Jennings. My concerns with him were mental and I think this Margarito business will wipe away those issues. Cotto KO3

Rubio is a tougher opponent than people are giving him credit for. I think this has the potential to be a good scrap. Pavlik should be able to outwork him, but I actually think Rubio is a live dog. Kelly by UD. -Mark Lyons

I'm not too excited about the show, as it's hard for me to picture either favourite getting pushed too hard.

Just going off how Jennings has done against limited opposition - and that's all I can go off of, since I haven't seen him in action, I can't imagine he's close to the level needed to give Cotto a run for his money.

Rubio's tough, but made to order for Pavlik. TKO 6 in an entertaining bout, but one sided bout. - Andrew Fruman