Pavlik-Rubio: Kelly Looking To Resurrect His Career
By Matt Stein: Middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik has a lot to prove on February 21st against Marco Antonio Rubio, starting with whether Pavlik has moved beyond his last fight – an embarrassing one-sided loss to Bernard Hopkins on October 18th, 2008. Nothing was lost in the fight in terms of titles for Pavlik, aside from his hurt feelings and some of his credibility as a fighter.
The fight proved one thing, namely that Pavlik’s straight ahead style of fighting is ill-equipped to deal with a boxer with excellent lateral movement and good boxing skills like Hopkins. Although some people would point out that there’s few fighters as talented as Hopkins and that there’s nothing lost in being beaten by him, but I tend to disagree.
You can’t put aside how badly Pavlik was beaten in that fight and try to ignore it, because it shows that there are some major problems with Pavlik’s style that will likely be exposed in the future when he fights someone with good movement and skills like Hopkins.
Rubio, 28, could be the fighter to do this. However, he’s never been much of a mover in the past, but you can expect him to be trying his hardest to imitate the style of Hopkins. For certain, Rubio isn’t going to try and match Pavlik with power shots. Rubio is smart enough to understand that he probably can’t win that way, even though he has good power and a high knockout percentage of his own.
Pavlik’s lack of hand speed was an issue against Hopkins, but it won’t be nearly as much a factor against Rubio, who is about as fast as Pavlik in hand speed. This is a good thing for Pavlik, because he wasn’t able to get his shots in on time against Hopkins because Bernard was making a good effort in being first with his punches, landing well ahead of Pavlik.
When the two were close, Hopkins was able to land more shots with shot flurries, further beating the slower Pavlik to the punch. Pavlik will be evenly matched in this fight, but he’s going to have to develop some other strategies to use in the future when he faces a middleweight with speed and movement like Hopkins. Cutting off the ring is one thing that Pavlik could do well if he learned to do it better. He a poor job against Hopkins, who was able to roam freely around the ring without being forced to trade shots.
With Rubio, he should be easier to catch up to because he fights much more flat-footed than Hopkins and should be less of a problem in tracking down. To the extent that Rubio can stay on the move and away from serious exchanges with Pavlik, he improves his chances of winning.
It’ll take a good jab and constant movement, though. The minute that Rubio lapses back into his old style of fighting for any length of time and letting Pavlik stand in front of him, he’ll be in grave danger from Kelly’s big power punches.
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