by Lee Payton
Photo © Marty Rosengarten / Ringsidephotos.com
These days, it's a big deal when a young fighter loses for the first time. Bob Arum expertly guided the careers of Middleweight Champion, Kelly Pavlik (pictured right), and top welterweight, Miguel Cotto, making them boxing superstars in the process. In 2008, the Hall of Fame promoter miscalculated, and as a result his undefeated stars both have a tick in the loss column.
It happens. Almost all of them lose eventually. The concern among fans is that the two young fighters will be damaged because of the shocking and punishing way they were defeated. Contenders, Marco Antonio Rubio and Michael Jennings, will attempt to exploit any possible weaknesses when they enter the ring as huge underdogs this Saturday night.
What's At Stake
For Pavlik- For only the 2nd time since he won it, his Middleweight Championship will be on the line. Should he lose it to this guy, he might be headed back to knocking guys out on Friday Night Fights. You'd expect a cut in pay would be in order, as well. His status as an elite fighter took a severe hit when Hopkins outclassed him over 12 rounds, but there is enough respect in the boxing world for the ageless great that losing like that can be forgiven. Going down to Rubio would be an entirely different story.
For Cotto- Even now, the Puerto Rican is seen as no worse than the 2nd best 147 lber in the world, and he's still hanging on as a pound-for-pound player. Jennings is totally unknown on this side of the planet, so not only does Cotto have to win, he has to knock him out, to show fans that he is still the cool-headed taker of livers they love. A loss would be so devastating, it's hard to imagine.
Pavlik will do what he always does. He'll come forward behind a long jab, looking to unleash his explosive right hand. Rubio has a limited outside game, but he's a sturdy worker on the inside who brings some of his own power. It's up to him to get close, in order to make the most of his advantages. When both men prefer to go forward, the man who backs up usually loses.
Cotto is a pretty complete fighter. He can pressure guys he doesn't fear, and he can also box when he feels like it. He's very quick and skillful, but he's also murder to the ribcage. I don't see any area where Jennings has the advantage.
What To Expect
I think Pavlik will eventually show Rubio the respect he deserves as a tough hombre. He's used to walking guys down, but in this case the opponent will be right there, ready to go to war. Once he figures out that trying to impose his will is too much work, I see Kelly collecting himself and letting the man come to him. Maybe not having to chase a guy down will open up some of his other skills.
Cotto just has to be himself in there. There is nothing in Jennings' ledger that suggests he is anywhere near this league. I'd say his best chance is to land something big and just hope for the best. With only 16 knockouts in 34 wins, a shocking KO doesn't seem likely. Jennings is in for the type of beating that will leave Cotto fans rejoicing.
Monday, February 16, 2009
by Lee Payton