Quick and dirty… I finally caught last Saturday’s Kelly Pavlik-Jermain Taylor II on replay, so I thought I’d share some brief thoughts on it; then suppress my gag reflex and tie up loose ends on Vladimir Klistchko-Sultan Ibragimov from last night; and finally remind everyone that, no matter popular perception after the heavyweights stank up the joint, boxing is alive and well in the lower weight classes, where the sadly below-the-radar Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez III is coming up next to complete what should be an all-time classic boxing trilogy.
In no way did Pavlik-Taylor II live up to the incredibly high standard set by the first, but it was a corking good battle, with lots of leather traded by both men, and intelligently, well-traded leather it was. I’m glad Pavlik figured out he should throw a body punch every now and then, because I was shrieking for him to do it all through the first fight. It looked to me like Pavlik won it, but a lot of those rounds were close, and, like all Taylor fights, difficult to score. Taylor proved me wrong thoroughly by suddenly and inexplicably rolling back all his bad habits, and I’m glad he did, and switching trainers to relative novice Ozell Nelson turned out to be a smart, not disastrous, move. I’ve said many times before I like Taylor, the man, and I want to like Taylor, the fighter. I think Pavlik showed some intelligence in there, and his star probably remains approximately at the same level it was before he won this fight. I know he’s the consensus middleweight (160 lbs.) champ, but there’s not much out there for him besides Arthur Abraham, so he might have to make like Taylor and move up to 168 lbs. I would kill to see him against Mikkel Kessler.
Speaking of body punching — I think I counted one total body punch thrown by Klitschko for the whole fight Saturday night. It’s calling “shenanigans” time on Klitschko; if your excuse for not throwing right hands was that Ibragimov was staying out of the range of big right hands, why not throw a left hook, or a body punch, or anything, really, other than a jab? Anything that would have made Ibragimov adjust, possibly setting up the right hand for later? Furthermore, Ibragimov did not stay out of range all night. Countless times, I muttered under my breath as Klitschko got extremely close to Ibragimov and Ibragimov’s back was against the ropes, “Let the right hand go, man!” Since I didn’t see the fight on TV until today, I didn’t get to see that Emmanuel Steward was jumping on Klitschko — what is it with fighters (first Taylor, now Klitschko) ignoring Steward’s advice? “You’ve got to step it up a little more,” he said. “It’s getting to be a real ugly fight, because you’re not throwing punches,” he said. “It shouldn’t go 12 rounds,” he said. “If you win a decision in this fight, it’s no good at all,” he said. I stand corrected on one point from the excellent discussions in the comments section; I’d said I don’t see anyone beating Klitschko, but a healthy big brother, Vitali Klitschko, maybe could. I just don’t want to see it. Also, I’d been disheartened by the coverage of this fight beforehand, but a lot of writers were way more generous in describing this fight afterwards than I was. Strange.
But forget about the heavyweights. If it’s big men you want, skip ahead two weekends to the excellent cruiserweight (200 lbs.) match-up between David Haye and Enzo Maccarinelli. It’s really only the last decade-plus that we’ve had these towering heavyweights dominating the scene; Rocky Marciano, Joe Louis and other great heavyweight champs were really, by today’s standards, cruiserweights, fighting at around 190 lbs. (Aside: I recommend the Louis documentary running on HBO right now.) There’s a lot more action in a typical cruiserweight fight than in a heavyweight fight, and the guys hit pretty freaking hard at that size. As good as Haye-Maccarinelli could be, one of the year’s can’t-miss fights is this coming weekend — Vazquez-Marquez III. If you saw the first two, there’s no possible way you could care that these were two tiny 122-pound men, because they were sublimely fought, action-packed punchfests by two of the sport’s biggest pound-for-pound punchers, with wild swings of drama and tremendous displays of guts. If you haven’t seen them, they’re right below. If Vazquez and Marquez aren’t too busted up from their first two wars, and this one even comes close to the first two, it will go down as one of the all-time great boxing trilogies. It’s powerful antiseptic for Klitschko-Ibragimov.