Last week we did the HBO triple-header, this week we're going to do the Top Rank PPV. This should have been a four-fight picks card, but instead is just a three. I'm not going to include Matt Korobov's showcase against Cory Jones because it could end in 20 seconds or three rounds and it's pretty much the same deal. We all know Korobov is going to smash him to pieces.
If you posted picks in the results thread yesterday, please re-post them in this thread so I'll remember to count them. Also remember to be specific. Pick the fighter to win by KO/TKO and the round it will happen, unanimous decision, split/majority decision, or you can pick a draw if you want to take the risk.
This is Pavlik's first fight at his hometown arena in Youngstown, Ohio, since he bashed Lenord Pierre on Vs. in 2006. Since then he's fought in Anahem, Memphis, Las Vegas and Atlantic City (three times). He's becoming a "hometown" guy in AC. But there's really no place like home.
The Chevrolet Center isn't a big venue (about 7,500 are expected for the fight, which is essentially a one-fight card with local boys and the like on the undercard, with the rest of the PPV taking place at Madison Square Garden). But it will be 100% filled with Kelly Pavlik fans. He'll have a great atmosphere for his comeback.
Rubio (43-4-1, 37 KO) can punch and take a shot, but make no mistake. Pavlik hits harder than Enrique Ornelas, and Rubio took some flush, nasty shots from Ornelas last October.
This should be a trench war. I see Pavlik and Rubio coming up with some glorious exchanges, but I also see Pavlik establishing his long jab and working that deadly straight right behind it. It won't be another Gary Lockett, but it sure as hell isn't Bernard Hopkins, either.
I'm gonna take Kelly to retain in lucky number seven -- the same round he stopped both Taylor and Miranda. Pavlik TKO-7
Miguel Cotto v. Michael Jennings (Welterweights - vacant WBO title on the line)
This is where we'll get to see if Miguel Cotto has any remaining ill effects from the brutal loss last July to Antonio Margarito. If you've never seen Jennings fight, you're definitely not alone, and I've seen very little. What I have seen was not impressive. He's 31 years old, an orthodox fighter, he has little power, decent fundamentals, average quickness, and he's padded his record with so-so regional fighters. It's not his fault, it's just that's what there has been for him fighting in the UK, with zero aspirations of going international before this fight was signed.
Jennings was made mandatory challenger to Paul Williams when Williams held this title, which was yet another pathetic display of favoritism from the WBO. Jennings has no business fighting for a world title. The regional titles in Britian really don't mean much, and making them play a role at all in world rankings is rather preposterous.
Jennings is pretty much exactly the stereotype you might be imaginging in your head. If Cotto is healthy and ready to go, he's going to demolish him. I don't think Jennings is going to be any more a challenge for Cotto than Alfonso Gomez or Oktay Urkal were. Cotto TKO-5
John Duddy v. Matt Vanda (Junior Middleweights? Middleweights?)
I'm not exactly certain if they'll be fighting this at 154 or 160, or an agreed-upon weight in the middle. Both have fought middleweight, though Duddy has been aiming at coming down to 154 for a while now.
Vanda was involved in one of the most exciting fights of 2008 when he pushed Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. to the limit in Mexico, only to lose by split decision, including one absurdly transparent and bogus card from judge Francisco Mouret, who scored it for Chavez, 100-90. Vanda took one card 96-95, and lost the other 97-93. In the rematch, JC Jr. won more convincingly.
Vanda's a knockaround guy (39-8, 22 KO) who has only been stopped once, against Armando Velardez in 2004. Duddy is putting his unbeaten record on the line against a guy that can give him trouble, because a lot of guys have given him trouble. I thought Walid Smichet beat him last February, but Duddy got the nod. Duddy has also been out of the ring since a June win over Charles Howe in Boston, thanks to promotional squabbles.
Duddy is a great guy, and I'm happy he's getting back in the ring because all he wants to do is fight. He'll be around forever. Scuttlebutt is that Top Rank wants him to challenge Pavlik next. That's why I'm hoping my prediction is true, because Pavlik would bust Duddy up something God awful. It would not be pretty. I think this will be a war, and that cuts may well play a factor. I'm gonna go ahead and do it: Vanda TKO-9