In addition to post-fight wrap-ups, I've decided to do a "10 Points of Interest" post-fight chatterbox sort of a thing for the big cards. More to keep talking, because I rarely say everything I want to say in one shot.
By the way, I have a feeling we're going to see a lot of disagreement about the decision last night, and I do think it's one of those fights where both sides have a good argument. Those that supported Pavlik -- I can see it. I felt Taylor won and did so pretty clearly, but we all see fights differently. Harold Lederman, for instance, has taken the habit of seeing things in a totally bizarre manner.
Anyway, on with the show.
1. Jermain Taylor has guts
Say what you want about Jermain -- and his nickname seems pretty dated at this point -- but the man has cojones. Just taking a rematch with Pavlik showed that. Having the sack to end a terrible partnership with the legendary Manny Steward showed it, too. He wanted to beat the man that beat him. He came up short, but he did so with his head held high. Jermain Taylor's two wins over Bernard Hopkins are still disputed by many. I think his loss to Pavlik will be much the same.
2. Kelly Pavlik is the real deal
This was like Calzaghe-Kessler for me, in some ways. I thought both guys did a pretty good job. I credit Taylor for taking Kelly out of his comfort zone. But Kelly Pavlik showed he can fight hard for 12 rounds against a tremendous fighter. This is not a guy who needs to score a knockout to win a fight. His skills are better than he's given credit for sometimes -- much like Miguel Cotto.
3. Not all rematches are created equal
I really don't mean to dis the fighters when I call the bout "underwhelming" -- but it was, at least to me. It did not live up to the September fight at all. But it's not often you get Vazquez-Marquez-type rivalries. That's why those are so special. This was a good, clean fight. Nothing more, nothing less. A very professional effort from both men, if you know what I mean.
4. Judges live in a damn dreamworld sometimes
120-108 for Jose Navarro? Really? Mijares didn't win a single round, yet the other two judges gave the fight to him? Mijares-Navarro was very competitive, a ton of close rounds. I gave the fight to Navarro, 115-113, but it was really close. The decision doesn't bother me. Pavlik beating Taylor, for the record, doesn't really bother me. In neither case do I think we're talking about a robbery or anything of the sort. 120-108 for Navarro is ridiculous, though.
5. Fernando Montiel is really good
Montiel basically barnstormed through Martin Castillo, a good fighter. With Mijares' inconsistent performances -- his brutal win over Jorge Arce was a career-best, by far -- and shoddy recent choice of opponents (past Navarro, who is a good fighter), I think I have to consider Montiel the clear No. 1 in the world at 115 pounds. Mijares and Alexander Munoz both have arguments, and Vic Darchinyan might if he ever gets back to being the destruction machine he was pre-Nonito.
6. Time for Ronald Hearns to step up a little
Look, Baby Hitman is no baby. He's 29 years old. Either he's going to be a real fighter or he's not. Beating Juan Astorga with clinical precision proved nothing, and neither have any of his other wins. At 18-0, it's time he started at least fighting journeymen and gatekeepers.
7. Next for Pavlik?
A fight with John Duddy in June was all but signed, sealed and delivered, but now there's talk of Don King trying to get Tito Trinidad into a bout with the middleweight champ. I have no doubt Pavlik wins either fight. I like Tito Trinidad, but 160 was never his best weight to begin with, and look, he's old, you know? But I'd rather see that than Pavlik slaughtering the sacrificial lamb Duddy. I have a hard time even considering Duddy one of the 10 best middleweights in the world. His career best win is over a 37-year old Howard Eastman who left the ring that night a loser in five of his last seven. Tito might not be the most deserving, but it's somewhat compelling, and Trinidad still demands attention.
8. Next for Taylor?
Who knows? This depends on Jermain's mental state right now, probably. He looked as good as he is in a long time with Ozell Nelson in place of Steward, and he should stick with his longtime mentor as head trainer. Ozell and Jermain had a great plan for Kelly Pavlik, I thought. And Jermain also never wavered and fought stupidly, as he had done every fight under Steward. He's going to be at 168. He may or may not have to win a fight or two before getting a title shot. But there are names out there I'd love to see Taylor against. Count Calzaghe out for now, as he's obviously pretty busy. Kessler, Bute, Miranda, Green, Pascal, Lacy, Andrade -- those are all possible, probably, and all intriguing on a lot of levels. I think the weight will serve Jermain well, and he should do well in the division if the two losses to Pavlik don't really get him down.
9. Most people thought the fight was quite good
That should be said. I'm glad people enjoyed the bout, and I hope we get more fights of this nature. Having the best fight the best is never a bad thing. ESPN's Dan Rafael called it "another classic sort of fight," and Dan has seen a few fights in his day. It just didn't push the buttons for me personally, I guess.
10. Kelly Pavlik is a wonderful ambassador for boxing
Is it possible to dislike Pavlik? He is gracious in victory, never seems like he has a swelled head, and from all accounts, doesn't stop working to make himself better. He is a true champion, and he proved it after the fight when he said, "Jermain taking the rematch made the sport better."
This was a fight about redemption for Taylor, and he came up short on the cards. But he is a class act and a class fighter, and so is Kelly Pavlik, who now holds two wins over Taylor. For Kelly Pavlik, he proved that he was no one-hit wonder, that September 29, 2007, was not a one-time affair.
So the fight didn't live up to my expectations. But the fighters did so during and after the fight. It's tricky to praise any athlete for their personality because who really knows them, and the whole thing could turn around on you in one night at a strip club, but these guys have been this way as long as we've seen them in the spotlight. Both of them deserve nothing but the best in their professional careers.
It wasn't about a title, it wasn't even really about money. It was two men that put on a classic last year going out to try and do it again, for respect, for pride, and for the betterment of the sport they compete in. All kudos to both of them.
And who knows, we just might see them fight later on again down the line. Both are likely ultimately destined for the 175-pound weight class.