Gary Lockett: Can He Still Be A Force In The Middleweight Division?
By Sean McDaniel: Since losing to WBC/WBO middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik last week, middleweight Gary Lockett (30-2, 21 KOs) has received a lot of criticism from boxing fans who feel that he wasn’t a worthy challenger for Pavlik and that he was a poor fighter. However, I think most of the people who say this are dead wrong. Lockett may have lost to Pavlik, and he may have been blown out by him, but he showed glimpses of some real talent before being buried by Pavlik, especially in the first round when Lockett repeatedly hit Pavlik with some huge left and right hand shots to the head and body.
Lockett’s power looked every bit as good as Pavlik, maybe even a shade better. His chin, however, wasn’t up to the mark and eventually let him down later in the 2nd and 3rd rounds when he was knocked down. I think this can be fixed, because he just needs to learn some head movement, a little more movement around the ring and perhaps increasing his work rate slightly. In terms of power, he’s second to none, but he’s got to learn some boxing skills to go along with that raw power.
At 31, Lockett is still young enough to make a mark in the division if he can get the proper training, although I agree with many boxing fans when they say he needs to move a little. When you look at him, though, the power is his foundation and it gives him a huge head up above many other middleweights that may have more speed and better moves than him. What he needs, however, is a defensive wizard, someone like trainer Buddy McGirt to teach him how to properly defend himself without taking so many head shots.
Against Pavlik, Lockett rarely moved his head as he plodded ahead constantly mostly blocking shots with his face rather than his gloves. In the second round, Lockett, perhaps being given instructions from his corner, finally started moving his head a little. Unfortunately, he soon abandoned his head movement and once again began taking big punches to the head. But, he looked good during that time that he was at least attempting to fight defensively, and I could see in that small block of time that he has the makings of being a good fighter, perhaps even a champion if given the ideal training setup.
Despite being a huge underdog, Lockett fought Pavlik to essentially a standstill in the 1st round, and even hurt him on one occasion with a hard body shot. What Lockett failed to do, however, was throw enough punches in the round which allowed Pavlik to come back in the second half of the round to control the action. During that time, Lockett looked in awe, forgetting that he had just as much power as Pavlik and that he could hurt him just as much as he could hurt him. This was a fatal mistake for Lockett, because this enabled Pavlik to take over the fight without doing much of anything at all due to Lockett’s lack of offense. If I were Lockett’s management, I would make sure he gets the best trainer possible because I think he can not only be the best fighter in England, but perhaps in the world if he can learn some things.
He’s got some real talent buried underneath, and is like a diamond in the rough. He just needs the right trainer, more motivation and some fine tuning on his offense and defensive skills. Even if he doesn’t improve defensively, he would still be a formidable fighter if they increased his punch output to 60-80 punches per round.
Can you imagine that? With his enormous power, he’d mow down almost anyone put in front of him if he were to be able to put his hands on them enough, like Pavlik was doing to him last week. Ideally, though, it would be best that he improve his defensive skills because he seems way too wide open for incoming fire at this point in his career. However, he’s a young 31, and I can see him making some excellent improvements in the near future. Believe it or not, I think this loss was a good learning tool for him, because he showed that he can compete against the best fighter in the middleweight division when he wants to.