Where does Kelly Pavlik Rank at Super Middleweight?

By: Phil Santos, We do not yet know when newly crowned World Middleweight Champion Kelly Pavlik will make his first title defense. What we do know is that his next bout will be fought at a catch weight of 166, a weight that is more comfortable, after it was well noted that both Pavlik and Taylor were beginning to have difficulty making 160. Kelly Pavlik will step in with Jermain Taylor for their eagerly anticipated rematch on February 16th. Jermain Taylor, the former title holder, and Kelly Pavlik are expected to eventually make the logical move to 168.

kelly pavlikIt would surprise me if Pavlik didn't make at least a defense or two of his Middleweight title but there are some great fights to be had at Super Middle. If the current champ and the recently deposed champ make the leap up in weight where do they rank among the best Super Middleweights in the world? Does Kelly Pavlik have the tools to clean out the Super Middleweight Division? Could Pavlik possibly put an end to Joe Calzaghe's reign as Super Middleweight Boss?

The three main concerns that normally arise when talks of moving up in weight for a fighter are:
Will you sacrifice too much speed?
Will your power carry over at a higher weight?
Will your chin hold up against bigger fighters?

For Kelly Pavlik questions about speed and power carrying over at a higher weight aren't too concerning. Pavlik is a big, tough fighter who fights like so. Not to imply that he is unskilled, in fact, just the opposite is true. Pavlik uses what he has beautifully, landing hard, well timed one two combinations while constantly pressuring his opponent. He does not win by being quicker than the opposition, he replies on timing and power, plain and simple.

When it comes to power you have to believe that Pavlik possesses just as much pop as any Super Middle out there. The additional weight in this case may even be beneficial to the cause. So it is plausible that Pavliks two greatest assets, his power and timing, would not be affected negatively by moving to 168.

The only question that remains is can his chin hold up at 168? Pavlik has hit the canvas against Fulgencio Zuniga and Jermain Taylor, both of whom he proceeded to knockout, at Middleweight. Pavlik would be tested fighters like Mikkel Kessler, Joe Calzaghe or even top 10 guys like Allan Green and Edison Miranda are all chin checkers, and they are all resident Super Middleweights.

In a division where the depth can be trumped only by the Welters, the waters are deep and there are plenty of sharks. Anthony Mundine, Jeff Lacy and Sakio Bika are other top level contenders that could give a banger like Kelly Pavlik problems. Winky Wright has bounced around different weight classes and is a slick, defensive minded counter puncher who could also present a difficult challenge for “The Ghost”.

If Pavlik does move to 168 an immediate top 5 ranking is warranted. Given his resume he should face no more than one or two top contenders before a title shot is within reach. Kelly Pavlik has demonstrated the ability to rise to the occasion and get up off the canvas, which many acknowledge as the sign of a great champion, on the biggest stage of his career. To say he is ready for Joe Calzaghe may be premature but he is certainly capable of challenging top level Super Middleweights. If he is successful a meeting between Pavlik and Calzaghe could be another huge USA vs. UK like Mayweather vs. Hatton.

If Pavlik and Taylor enter the mix at 168 this would be my list:
Top 10 Super Middleweights

Champion: Joe Calzaghe

1. Mikkel Kessler
2. Anthony Mundine
3. Kelly Pavlik
4. Lucian Bute
5. Jermain Taylor
6. Librado Andrade
7. Edison Miranda
8. Allan Green
9. Carl Froch
10. Jeff Lacy

Article posted on 17.12.2007

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