Pavlik vs. Rubio on February 21st
By Dave Lahr: WBC/WBO middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik (34-1, 30 KOs) will be defending his titles on February 21st against Marco Antonio Rubio (43-4-1, 37 KOs), his number #1 ranked WBC challenger, in Youngstown, Ohio. Pavlik, 26, will be making his first appearance since being defeated by 43-year-old Bernard Hopkins in a lopsided 12-round unanimous decision loss in October in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Pavlik, who made the mistake of meeting Hopkins at a 170 pound catch weight, was completely outclassed by Hopkins, who used both his power and movement to make Pavlik look bad and beat him to the punch.
In every facet of the game, Pavlik was beaten by the better skilled Hopkins and looked out of his element against him. The fight was supposed to be a potential mismatch in the opposition direction, however, as many boxing fans felt that the younger Pavlik would have too much youth and power for Hopkins, and would possibly knock him out.
As it turned out, Hopkins defeated Pavlik in by landslide shutout, winning every round of the fight and beating him as bad as super middleweight Joe Calzaghe had beaten Jeff Lacy two years earlier. The defeat did much more than hand Pavlik his first defeat, though, it also removed the possibility for him to face Calzaghe, a fighter that Pavlik had been going after for some time in the months leading up to the Hopkins fight.
If Pavlik had been able to get by Hopkins, chances were good that Pavlik would have been in a good position to land a mega fight with Calzaghe. Instead, Pavlik has to settle for fighting the 28-year-old Rubio, a bout much less appealing, but much more winnable. Pavlik has little choice about fighting Rubio, because he’s his mandatory challenger and to try and bypass him now would mean that Pavlik would likely be stripped of his WBC title by the sanction body.
However, the fight against Rubio excites few people, as Rubio isn’t considered to be a fighter that will give Pavlik much problems. Of course, who knows what kind of condition Pavlik will be in mentally for this bout? But, if Pavlik is 75% of the form he showed prior to his loss to Hopkins, he should be able to handle Rubio quite easily, and likely take him out without too much trouble.
Rubio looked mediocre in his last fight, beating Enrique Ornelas by a 12-round split decision in October. It looked to me that Ornelas had done more than enough to get the victory, as he landed the cleaner punches, won the majority of the exchanges and backed Rubio through much of the fight.
However, Rubio showed good endurance, and looked to have won the final two rounds of the fight, giving him the victory by a narrow margin. Though Rubio has a high percentage of knockout victories, he’s only average puncher at best. Most of his knockouts have come at the expense of 2nd tier opposition. In the past two years, he’s suffered two defeats, losing to Kassim Ouma and Zaurbek Baysangurov by 12-round decisions.
This is obviously a fight that is Pavlik’s to lose, because he has the power and more than enough hand speed to deal with the likes of Rubio. This isn’t going to be a fight where Pavlik will have to deal with a bigger fighter, or one with better movement and hand speed like in his loss to Hopkins. Unless Pavlik is still feeling the after effects of his loss to Hopkins, he should win this fight by an early stoppage.
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