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Pavlik-Rubio: Kelly Has A Lot of Proving To Do

pavlik34324563By Jason Kim: To be kind, middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik (34-1, 30 KOs) looked absolutely horrible in his last fight, losing and looking way overmatched against 43-year-old Bernard Hopkins in a 12-round unanimous decision in October. Calling it a bad night, never could get off with his punches and was beaten soundly by a fighter that Pavlik, with his youth and power, should have been able to beat if he was the real deal. Instead, Pavlik took a beating and ended up looking one dimensional and limited as a fighter.

The sad part was that Pavlik had to drop back down to the middleweight division after the fight, where he’s considered to be the best in the entire division. That seems to indicate that the middleweight talent pool in the 90s, consisting of fighters like Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr., were far more talented than the current fighters like Pavlik in 2009. So wide is the gulf in talent that even a fighter like Hopkins in his mid 40s, was able to make Pavlik look like an unskilled amateur.

On February 21st, it will be Pavlik’s job to try and get people to forget about his lopsided loss to Hopkins and try to bring boxing fans back to his side. It won’t be easy, because many fans see Pavlik as tainted after his loss to Hopkins.

It wouldn’t have been nearly as bad if Pavlik had been knocked out quickly by Hopkins rather than being dominated for 12-rounds. The kind of loss that Pavlik suffered was Lacyesqu in proportion, reminding me of Jeff Lacy’s embarrassing one-sided loss to Joe Calzaghe in 2006. Lacy wasn’t able to rebound from that loss nearly as quickly, because he injured his left shoulder in his very next fight with Vitali Tsypko in December 2006, and thus far hasn’t been the same fighter after the injury.

Pavlik, however, will likely have things much easier, because Rubio is a slower fighter who likes to fight Pavlik’s type of fight, throwing a lot of leather and trying to end things with every swing. Rubio won’t be trying to use speed or movement to beat Pavlik, because he’s got very little of those things.

Pavlik had reportedly been suffering a nagging injury to his left elbow leading up to the fight, and went through with the bout with Hopkins anyway despite the injury. Though it’s doubtful that this played a factor in Pavlik losing so badly, but it sure didn’t help him much either. One would hope that Pavlik doesn’t have any other injuries – or excuses – to give if he performs badly again.

He’s at a place where he not only needs to win, but he needs to look exceptional in the process. Losing is not an option for Pavlik, and if that happens, he’s to be faced with some major questions about his career. It doesn’t seem likely that Rubio can beat Pavlik, but then again, few people thought that 43-year-old Hopkins would beat him either.

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