I recall a scene from The Sopranos, when Paulie Walnuts says, regarding a downtrodden, potentially dangerous Pat Parisi, "We always have the option."
Tony Soprano didn't want to order a hit on Patsy, and it never came to pass. I didn't think Jermain Taylor would exercise his rematch clause against Kelly Pavlik. This time, the trigger looks like it's going to be pulled.
So move aside, John Duddy, and let one of the best fights of 2007 be fought again in 2008. The rumor winds are whirling, and while nothing is official, it looks like Pavlik-Taylor II will be on like Diddy Kong, probably in February.
It's a natural rematch. A champion (Taylor) nearly thwarts an upstart challenger (Pavlik) early on. He should have knocked Pavlik out in the second round of that fight. Instead, he got sloppy. Pavlik recovered. And Jermain Taylor tasted the first defeat of his professional career, in a high-octane, exhilarating bout that left even Michael Buffer in awe.
Now, Kelly Pavlik is the toast of boxing. A couple weeks ago, we thought it might be Sergio Mora served up as a celebrity-boxer sacrificial lamb. Then, John Duddy's name came up, and it seemed like Pavlik-Duddy was a done deal for January 26 in Atlantic City. Good money, likely Pavlik victory, and then we go from there.
But Taylor is a proud guy. The last year of his career has been almost universally panned, despite winning two of his three fights and performing well in the loss. Before a move up to super middleweight, Taylor may simply feel that he really is the better boxer, and he needs to prove it immediately.
After all, it's no stretch to say that the ex-champ came into the Pavlik bout genuinely unimpressed with his opponent. His criticisms of Pavlik didn't seem meant to sell the fight, or get under Kelly's skin. They seemed heartfelt and honest to me. Jermain Taylor did not see what the big deal about Kelly Pavlik was. After the fight, he changed his tune. He was proven wrong, and he admitted it.
But he also knows he should have disposed of Pavlik in the second. He knows he has the power and skill to beat Pavlik. He also knows Pavlik can beat him.
If it's signed, and I hope it is, I wish just for two things: (1) The two camps agreeing to make it a title fight again, and waiving the 166-pound catchweight that was stipulated in the contract language, and (2) That the fight takes place in Cleveland. Kelly Pavlik has earned a hometown defense.
Hopefully we'll get some official confirmation very soon, but Taylor has until October 29 to exercise the clause.