Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Scorecard: Pavlik-Rubio and Cotto-Jennings

From Madison Square Garden, New York and the Chevrolet Centre, Ohio

I must admit, I was looking forward to this card. The dual arena card was to showcase Kelly Pavlik and Miguel Cotto, two fighters coming off heavy defeats. The last time we saw Pavlik was in a 170 catch-weight decision loss to the mercurial Bernard Hopkins. Pavlik fought gamely but was clearly out schooled by the wily veteran. Miguel Cotto owned both a stoppage over Zab Judah and a unanimous decision win over Shane Mosley before succumbing to Antonio Margarito, over eleven grueling rounds. Both Pavlik and Cotto have aggressive crowd-pleasing style and I knew they would both respond positively to their respective losses.

Super middleweights: Matvey Korobov (3-0, 3 KOs) vs. Cory Jones (4-4, 1 KO), 4 rounds

Coming from Madison Square Garden, the card opened with Matvey Korobov, a Russian Olympian and two-time amatuer world champ, taking on Cory “Let Me Get That” Jones in a 4 round Super Middleweight contest.

Korobov started the fight strong using his southpaw stance to control the center of the ring. There was a lot of missing in the two rounds with Korobov looking to throw power jabs and straight lefts. The start of round three saw Jones start strong and mixing it up however Korobov is back in charge by the middle of the round. Jones is moving well but is just being overwhelmed by the aggressive and workmanlike Korobov. The round ends and the crowd are unhappy with the action. I am almost expecting more of Korobov who has been busier yet never really fully asserting his will on Jones however he starts to get inside more as the round progresses. Jones, who was handling everything Korobov could give for the first three and half rounds, suddenly gets face time with a short right hook that drops him to the ground where he makes infant-like attempts at trying to regain his feet. He is out.

Korobov looked impressive in staying with the game plan and his finishing shot looked effortless in its beauty. His patience and execution are excellent for someone with only four pro fights. Look forward to seeing him.

Middleweights: John Duddy (25-0, 17 KOs) vs. Matt Vanda (39-8, 22 KOs), 10 rounds

Middleweight brawlers “Irish” John Duddy and Matt “The Predator” Vanda were then set to go at it over 10 rounds.

Both Duddy and the heavily tattooed Vanda are aggressive from the bell with Duddy looking both sharper and stronger. Duddy is surprising us all by boxing well and showing poise whilst still being aggressive. His jab is successfully nullifying any offense Vanda can put together over the first four rounds. Vanda lands a short overhand right but Duddy still manages to win the exchange. The start of round five sees Vanda trying to cover up and lunge inside Duddy’s jab however he is caught with an uppercut midway through the dixth. Whilst Vanda is starting to throw significantly more shots, this is clearly a Duddy fight, who is showing great boxing skills. Vanda lands a solid left that backs up Duddy but can’t capitalize. Rounds 8 and 9 show Vanda getting more desperate whilst Duddy continues to outbox him. The final round is all action as Vanda looks fresh and Duddy suddenly becomes tired. Vanda is coming on strong and landing but it is not enough as Duddy prevails with a unanimous decision.

Duddy always seemed the type of fighter who would never change, he was aggressive and took unnecessary risks. However this win showed he could evolve from a crude banger. His newfound boxing skills and combo punching controlled the fight until late in the 9th where Vanda’s resurgence was too little and too late.

Welterweights: Miguel Cotto (32-1, 26 KOs) vs. Michael Jennings (34-1, 16 KOs), 12 rounds, for a vacant title

This fight marks Cotto’s fourteenth consecutive world title fight and Jennings record would make him seem like an ideal comeback fight. Looks good on paper but still a foregone conclusion. The commentators seem to agree and add, after introducing the judges, “if we need them”.

Jennings starts the bout but circling the ring whilst Cotto looks relaxed and goes to the body. Cotto is stalking Jennings and blocking his punches well. Jennings darts out of trouble and is holding on the inside and his willingness to exchange benefits Cotto who is looking to land hard. By the end of the third Jennings nose is bloodied. The next round sees Cotto rock Jennings with a left hand who is then backed into a corner and pounded onto one knee. Jennings gets up but is not throwing and Cotto chases him round two corners and pummels him before dropping him with a body shot. He is up again and somehow survives as he takes a heaping helping of leather in the last ten seconds of the round. Jennings just looks beat from the start of the fifth and is not exerting anything in the clinches. Cotto is just walking him down as Jennings fails in his attempts to keep distance. Jennings is trapped on the ropes but gets away only to be trapped again where he sent down for a third and final time as the referee waives it off.

Cotto looks impressive in laying waste to undeserving opposition in gaining another world title the mildly respected WBO welterweight crown. A fight with Clottey would be awesome right now, certainly more enterprising and seemingly more valid than directly going into a rematch with Margarito. Whatever happens, Cotto is a delight to watch. He breaks the body superbly before turning out the lights.

Middleweights: Kelly Pavlik (34-1, 30 KOs) vs. Marco Antonio Rubio (43-4-1, 38 KOs), 12 rounds, for Pavlik's title

Held in Pavlik’s hometown of Youngstown Ohio, this bout was apparently sold out in just 15 minutes. After being schooled by Bernard Hopkins in a 170 catch-weight bout it was important for Pavlik to have a strong showing. Rubio is a tough journeyman who poses little threat other than to take a punch.

The bout begins and Pavlik goes to work behind those long, long arms. Rubio is finding it difficult to get inside in the opening round whilst Pavlik manages to push him back into a corner and unload. Late in the round Pavlik plugs Rubio with a right who looks shaky. Pavlik attempts to hunt him down but can’t put him down before the bell. It is evident, even in the second round, that Rubio knows he is over his head. He is absolutely unable to get inside Pavlik’s reach and looks defeated. Pavlik is also a lot stronger and walks him back as he pleases. Rubio finally manages to get off a combination which is stifled by a Pavlik right. Rubio has his best round in the third where he finally looks ready to fight, Pavlik is working behind the one-two and just clubbing him with the two. Rubio slows considerably in rounds four and five and Pavlik is in complete control by this point. You get the feeling that Pavlik is able to end this fight but Rubio’s resilience is strong. By round six Pavlik has no respect for Rubio and is sitting down on his shots suddenly Rubio touches Pavlik with a right hand and manages to flurry before the bell. This flurry would be Rubio’s last stand as he looks tired and everyone is waiting for the axe to fall. Pavlik rocks him with a right but just can’t put him away in the 8th. Round nine is over and Rubio’s corner throw in the towel, which is a relief to everyone.

Whilst not the best showing Pavlik returned to doing what he does best against a game Rubio, which is throw the one-two like his opponent stole something. There was no doubting Rubio’s heart but he was clearly out of his depth and he wouldn’t have lost any credibility in throwing it in a few rounds earlier. That said, Pavlik should have at least dropped him as he was in control the whole distance and could fire at will. Pavlik needs to fight Arthur Abraham in a battle of supremacy at 160.