Pavlik vs Martinez: Keys to Victory, Four to Explore, Official Prediction

Vivek Wallace: Saturday night, fight fans around the globe will tune in to see a showdown between two of the sports perennial figures. Despite solid records and great success of the past, both men find themselves subjected to questions in the present which require answers that could serve as a gateway to a yet-to-be determined future. In the case of Martinez, 48 professional fights produced only two losses, yet those two losses came to the two biggest names on his resume. Always known as a fierce competitor, the rugged Argentinean will now have to show the world whether or not he has the type of mettle that will allow him to truly join the sports elite.

Across from Martinez stands a man who will also have to answer a set of critics. It was less than 3 years ago that we saw Pavlik walk through the likes of Jermain Taylor, Edison Miranda, and a number of other prime contenders. That string of victories seemed to be the perfect script until that fairy-tale script turned into a Halloween type horror, in an aptly titled classic which entailed a "A Ghost And The Executioner". The damaging results of that showdown gave a more literal meaning to the term "Ghost", as in the eyes of many of his critics, Kelly Pavlik has in many ways began to fade away ever since. As we prepare ourselves for the Saturday nights showdown, in an effort to analyze the work ahead, we take a look at pending showdown, starting with "Keys to Victory"..


Martinez is well-known as a very slick and crafty veteran, but unlike many of his past fights where he assumes the role of the aggressor by prodding forward, this time around, it may benefit him to take a different approach. A good study session of the Hopkins/Pavlik fight footage shows us how important intelligence can be against a fighter like Pavlik. To stand in front of him and attempt to chip away is technically the equivalence of forfeiting any shot one has at victory. Pavlik has a very strong punch output and often likes to place himself in the role of the aggressor, as well. If Martinez is at the top of his game, this realization could put him at an advantage, for not only is he an underrated counter-puncher, but he's also a southpaw, which comes with it's own set of advantages. Martinez will need to harness his emotions and fight smart, setting traps and not allowing himself to be too caught up in the moment, particularly if he gets Pavlik hurt. Against Taylor, Pavlik showed us that he can take a lickin' and keep tickin'. Martinez will need to make sure that he is prepared like always to go a full 12 rounds. Following this blueprint can definitely land him in the "W" column.


For Pavlik, this opponent could be a tricky one. He hasn't beaten the best of his resume which is deceptive, yet he's arguably a better finished product than both of those men. Already looking at a potential showdown with the likes of either Paul Williams or Antonio Margarito for the Fall of this year, an obstacle like Sergio Martinez could serve as a literal 'roadblock', preventing Pavlik from ever reaching such a destination. Pavlik will need to be mindful of the fact that Martinez is extremely seasoned and sets traps better than most. Among his best weapons are lead lefts to the body, followed by the right hook to the head. Hopkins found great success with this same combination, and if the HBO crew noted Hopkins' hands as quicker than Pavlik's in that competition, things could really get testy against the man Jim Lamply has often referred to as the "fastest middleweight he's ever seen". Similar to the key to victory given for Martinez, Pavlik will need to come prepared for a full 12 round battle. A not-so-stellar KO percentage for Martinez (50%) removes the odds of seeing him hurt Pavlik, but a durable chin could halt any progress Pavlik plans of hurting him. Following this blueprint without question gets the job done for Pavlik in the end.


'Home Again': Being a Youngstown, Ohio native, Kelly Pavlik considers himself right at home at the Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall. Throughout his short, yet entertaining career, he has had some of his more memorable moments under this roof. This realization would sound like a lucky charm in theory, but another realization immediately removes this comfort zone. That realization is the fact that the last time he fought in this building, he suffered his lone career loss. This will be his first trip back. They say there's no place like home. Another loss in Atlantic City and Pavlik may find himself looking for another one.

'Reach Out and Touch': Like any other game, the sport of boxing can often come down to inches and feet. Feet, in the sense that good footwork helps one avoid trouble; and inches, in the sense that minimal skills with extra reach can often provide extra-ordinary results. Despite being the taller fighter, Pavlik will enter this 'game of inches' at a one inch deficit. Perhaps not enough to affect the outcome, but with fast hands a wicked work rate, it'll be interesting to see how Pavlik avoids being 'touched' by the faster Martinez.

April's Fool?: With 10 years already invested in the sport and a ton of accolades in his rear view mirror, one would think that Kelly Pavlik has seen it all, and he has. But just because he's seen it all doesn't mean he's done it all. And on Saturday night, Pavlik is gonna do something he never has in that full decade he invested in the sport. What is he gonna do that he never has? Fight in the month of April. Anyone who calls himself 'Ghost' probably has very little fear of superstitions, but could this jinx be culprit to him becoming an April fool by the end of the night? Probably not, but it'll give the conspiracy theorist something to talk about when it's all said and done.

'Experience a KO': With an 86% KO ratio, Pavlik is well known as a powerful puncher. Maybe even too much the sense that of 37 professional fights, only two men went beyond the 10th round. That's great for crowd-pleasing, but as Pavlik learned with Hopkins, limited late fight experience can often be more of a hindrance than a helper. No question, a knockout prevents the need for that late-fight experience, but without it, one can only be setting themselves up for being knocked out (of championship contention). How will this limited experience help, or hurt, Kelly Pavlik.


When it all boils down, I see the speed of Martinez giving Pavlik a ton of problems as the fight unfolds. Pavlik has never been a very fast fighter, but his workrate and tenacity have always been his calling card. In fitting fashion, I can vision him using those calling cards to dial up the energy level, before ultimately hurting Martinez late. Martinez's superb conditioning will keep him from looking at the ceiling, but it won't be enough to combat the powershots he'll undoubtedly take. Upset barometer peaks at a strong 4 of 5 rating, as oddly enough, Martinez does have the endurance to finish Pavlik off (unlike Taylor) if he gets him hurt bad enough. Trouble is, I simply don't see him being able to do that.


(In other action, I see a shocker in Canada: Miranda 12th Rd stoppage over Lucian Bute)

(Vivek Wallace can be reached at, 954-292-7346,, Youtube (VIVEK1251), Twitter (VIVEK747), Facebook, and Myspace).

Article posted on 16.04.2010

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