Taylor-Pavlik with full undercard report
By Mike Indri, Retired Boxers Foundation - Photos by Sumio Yamada- Atlantic City, NJ - For the 10,000 plus in attendance at the Boardwalk Hall and the millions watching on HBO, undefeated world middleweight champion Jermain Taylor and undefeated top ranked challenger Kelly "The Ghost" Pavlik brought their best, and fought their best, in a world title fight reminiscent of Zale vs. Graziano, Robinson vs. Basilio and Hagler vs. Hearns. DiBella Entertainment and Top Rank, co-promoters for this fittingly served night of boxing at it's best, aptly named the fightcard pitting the two best middleweight fighters in the world "Throwback", and both fighters delivered, giving career enhancing performances.
From the opening bell of round one the predominately Pro-Pavlik crowd, with an approximately 6,000 making the trip from their hero's hometown of Youngstown, Ohio made their presence felt; screaming, cheering and waving their towels in such a constant and frenzied manner that left many believing that the ever-vibrant, open-24 hours-a day Atlantic City was actually a "Ghost Town"!
Taylor, the pride of Little Rock, Arkansas, started fast and peppered Pavlik was his stiff jab..
Sensing he had much to prove and not appreciating the negative media feedback from his most recent performances (a debated draw against Ronald "Winky" Wright and two lackluster decision wins over smaller, light hitting foes; Kassim Ouma and Cory Spinks) the champ looked to establish early control and confidence. Continuing his fast pace in round two, Taylor's stifling jabs found their mark, and left openings for a two-fisted attack which stung the usually granite chinned Pavlik, dropping the hurt fighter to the canvas. Beating the count on rubber legs, Pavlik did all he could to survive. Holding onto the knockout-minded champion and wobbling, with referee Steve Smoger attentively looking on, Pavlik miraculously managed to make it thru the longest minute of his professional career. Looking at disaster as he arose from the deck, the humble and iron-willed Pavlik realized he had passed a championship level test in being able to listen to trainer Jack Loew's instruction between rounds two and three.
During the post-fight press conference referee Smoger, one of the best in the business, would say that Pavlik was one or two punches away from being stopped.
To the absolute amazement of all, as well as the credit to his fortitude, Pavlik took round three on all three of the judges' scorecards with an unthinkable display. Obviously having weathered the storm, Pavlik backed Taylor into the corners, and onto the ropes, throughout much of the three minutes, and in doing so, made a profound statement. Taylor's chance had passed.
With the only stoppage of action in round four being a warning to Taylor for a low blow, the awestruck crowd knew they were witnessing boxing magic. Filled to the top, the near capacity crowd kept a fever pitch during rounds five and six. As Pavlik's powerful bombs were being equaled by the tenacious champion, raining his trademark jab and quick, precision punches, it looked like Taylor was winning the battle - yet as round seven approached, it appeared Pavlik was winning the war.
Bruised and swollen, Taylor knew he was fighting for his WBC and WBO title belts, as well as his personal pride. While also banged up and sporting a face full of his badges of courage, Pavlik's power had overtaken Taylor's speed and athleticism.
While leading on the three judges scorecards (58-55, 59-54 and 58-55) Taylor desperately struggled to regain control and quickly hammered Pavlik to the body. Leaving his hands down and taking unwarranted punishment, Taylor found himself backed into his opponent's corner. Just as quickly, it was over.
Pavlik, seconds away from being a thirteen-year overnight sensation in the boxing world, drove one of his concussive right hands to the head of the gallant champion, who was out before his body hit the canvas. The equally damaging uppercut and left hook followed but were not necessary.
At the 2:14 mark of round seven Jermain Taylor, the dignified and well-respected champion who so admirably dethroned the legendary Bernard Hopkins (beating him not once, but twice) was knocked out, and Kelly Pavlik was now boxing's newest superstar and world champion!
Pavlik, who is already in talks to take on Irish John Duddy over the 2008 St. Patrick's Day weekend, at Madison Square Garden, improved to 32-0, with Taylor being his 29th knockout victim. Taylor, who will be back to challenge for his championship belts (a rematch clause is contracted), tasted defeat for the first time as a professional, 27-1-1 (17 KO's).
Boxing fans were also treated to a sterling performance by rising star Andre Berto. Berto, fighting out of Winter Haven, Florida, stayed perfect at 20-0 (17 KO's) with a commanding 11th round TKO victory over fellow Floridian David Estrada, 21-4 (12 KO's), from Miami.
Fighting in the co-feature bout, also televised live on HBO, the twenty four year old former Olympian, wowed the crowd with his debilitating offensive attack, which eventually broke down the very gutsy and formidable Estrada.
Showcasing a strong, piston-like jab and a pulverizing head and body assault Berto proved he is for real, and a legitimate threat in the talent rich welterweight division. The impressive win was also a WBC and IBF title eliminator bout, which means the likable Berto, will get his championship shot within the very near future.
Also on the "Throwback" undercard…
Returning to action following more than a two-year layoff was popular former title contender Omar Sheika. Sheika, now fighting as a light heavyweight, was put to the test early as he broke a bone in his right hand after landing his first punch!
The rugged Paterson, NJ native delighted those in attendance with his one-handed 4th round TKO victory over a somehow unknowing Tiwon Taylor, now 26-14-1 (19 KO's). The tough luck Sheika, 27-8 (18 KO's) who was sidelined with previous hand injuries, now faces a big obstacle in his quest for one more title opportunity.
Hot middleweight prospect Ronald Hearns, son of the great Thomas "Hitman" Hearns, made short work of veteran Robert Kamya, dropping the Floridian twice before seeing the one-sided bout stopped at the 2:42 mark of the first stanza. Hearns stayed perfect at 16-0 (13 KO's), while Kamya dropped to 16-8 (4 KO's). After the twenty-eight-year-old Southfield, MI native's blowout win, promoter Lou DiBella could barely contain himself at ringside. "Let's put Hearns in there with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. now, that's the fight I want!"
Highly touted heavyweight Chazz Witherspoon improved to 20-0 with his 5th round TKO win over Ron Guerrero (19-15-3, with 13 KO's). With his cousin, former two-time world heavyweight champion, Tim Witherspoon, looking on, college graduate Chazz pounded the game Texas native, earning his fourteenth victory by way of stoppage.
Three-time New York Golden Glove champion Ronney Vargas (2-0, 1 KO) used his big reach advantage to out box and completely dominate his feisty, yet overmatched foe, Bruce Burkhardt. Burkhardt, fighting out of Marysville, MI. remained winless (0-3), while the highly skilled jr. middleweight returns to his home in the Bronx with a four round unanimous decision win.
Welterweight Carlos Quintana looked good in his overwhelming 4th round TKO win against journeyman Christopher Henry, from Barbados. The Puerto Rican Quintana assumed control from the opening bell and the southpaw fighter proved too difficult and strong for his limited opponent. Quintana's enviable record improved to 24-1 (19 KO's), while Henry dropped to 23-19 (17 KO's).
Philadelphia heavyweight Robert Hawkins surprised many with his workmanlike six round unanimous decision victory over highly regarded Terry Smith, also from Jermain Taylor's hometown of Little Rock, AR. Hawkins quick hands shut down Smith, who fell to 30-3 (18 KO's). The talented Hawkins, who could serve himself well with better conditioning, earned the good win and saw his record improve to 22-9 (7 KO's).
Richard Pierson, a sparring partner for Kelly Pavlik, opened the action with a powerful display against Ray Smith, en route to a 5th round TKO victory, in a scheduled six round super middleweight bout. Smith, now 7-2 (2 KO's) was willing to trade with the Paterson, NJ fighter, yet quickly realized he was no match for the talented, stronger Pierson. Pierson, the victim of a controversial loss in his last match, is now 5-1 as a young pro, with Smith his third knockout victim.
Truly a GREAT night of boxing, as well as a great night for boxing!
HBO treated their subscribers to two magnificent fights; the Taylor-Pavlik battle will be talked about forever, and was a "Fight of the Year" contest.
Boxing was well represented in Jermain Taylor and Kelly Pavlik; two special young champions, who are class people outside the ring. Boxing is greatly served with these two fighters, who are terrific role models.
Big time accolades, and congratulations, must go to all of Team Pavlik.
There is a special bond between fighter Kelly, his trainer Jack Loew, his father Mike Pavlik and their manager Cameron Dunkin. In a business, which generates strictly to the money, it is so wonderful and refreshing to see the real motivation between all of Team Pavlik: looking out for the fighter, LOYALTY, and a true striving for what really should be every fighter's sole dream…to become a world champion.
Very few get to the level that Kelly Pavlik has achieved. He got there because of his longtime trainer Jack Loew, who has been there since day one.
The great thing is that Kelly Pavlik realizes it, and won't let anyone take away what they both have worked so hard, and so long, for.
More fighters should be like Kelly Pavlik.
Article posted on 02.10.2007
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