Thursday, April 15, 2010

Opinion: Pavlik - Martinez

It’s about time. The first quarter of 2010 has been a relative grindfest as far as competitive fights go. In fact, the super six tournament aside, there has hardly been any pure contests. Thank L Ron. for Pavlik-Martinez.

This Sunday we see the middleweight king Kelly Pavlik, square off against the #1 ranked junior-middleweight Sergio Martinez. Fought at 160, this will be Pavlik’s fourth defence of his lineal World Middleweight crown.

The last we saw Pavlik was in crushing overmatched Miguel Angel Espino and this bout would be his first real contest since he was battered from post to post by Bernard Hopkins in a catchweight bout in October 2008. “The Ghost” recently had a ten month layoff to recover from a staph infection in his knuckle which threatened his career and “forced” him to pull out of two proposed bouts with Paul Williams. Strangely enough, the man who replaced Pavlik in the second proposed Williams bout will be the man facing him Sunday. In December, Martinez was unfortunate to receive narrow majority decision loss to Paul Williams in a ‘fight of the year’ candidate. This loss did nothing to drop Martinez’s stock however, as he gave as good as he got and managed to drop Williams hard in the first round.

Pavlik, who is 6-foot-2, is the naturally bigger and stronger fighter compared to the 5-11 Martinez, 34, who is a southpaw and faster. This bout sees a classic style matchup with puncher-boxer Pavlik and boxer-puncher Martinez.

KELLY PAVLIK (36-1, 32 KO)

At 6’2’’, Pavlik is a tall middleweight. He utilises his height and massive 75-inch reach well and throws mostly straight shots. He has a clear 3-inch height advantage over Martinez and should look to keep him on the end of that rattling jab.

You better pack a lunch, cause Pavlik will drop the one-two all day. Although mechanical, his right is an authentic show-stopper. By being adept at the most basic fundamentals of the sweet scientce he was able to pulverise the then undefeated Jermain Taylor to relieve him of his title and forced the corner of, the normally undentable, Marco Antonio Rubio to throw in the towel after 9. He also blasted the dangerous and exciting Edison Miranda in 7, barely losing a round. Pavlik has world class power at 160 and it will be interesting to see how Martinez will react.

Pavlik only really comes at you one way, he stands right in front of you and throws straight shots to the dome. For all of Pavlik’s power, it must be noted that his punches can be seen by smoke signal. This lack of hand speed may hurt him against the quicker Martinez. I think it is also safe to say that Pavlik won’t be making a cameo on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ as he has genuine “white people feet” and can be plodding. I mean, really, how many (straight) white dudes can dance?

The Hopkins fight also showed us that it is possible for Pavlik to be bullied. Hopkins continually had Pavlik on the back foot where “The Ghost” could not uncork the one-two. By continually giving Pavlik angles and moving to his right, Hopkins also took away the right hand. Martinez certainly has the movement to give Pavlik all kinds of trouble but whether he can back him remains to be seen.

Sergio Martinez (44-2-2, 24 KO)

Martinez is a terrifically skilled guy who is fast and tough. He proved against Williams that he could compete against the most avoided fighter in the sport and was terribly unlucky in losing the decision. Martinez’s main strength is his speed, footwork and southpaw style. If he is able to frustrate Pavlik early and take the fight to him, then he may be able to unsettle him.

Although not a heavy puncher, Martinez sat down on his punches during the Williams fight and seriously hurt him in the first round. That is quite a feat from such a seemingly feather-fisted guy. Remember, Jermain Taylor had Pavlik down.

There must be concerns regarding Martinez’s chin. He was stopped by Margarito at 147 and put down by Williams at 160. Although they are both big punchers, both are naturally larger welters who, because of their size, are able to jump up classes with relative ease. Martinez has never caught wreck from a naturally larger fighter and Pavlik has the boom to keep him down.

Keeping with the issue of size, Martinez does not have the strength to be able to push Pavlik back. His fight with “The Punisher” was also at 160 however, as previously stated, P-Will is a natural welter. Pavlik is a full sized middleweight at 6’2’’ whilst Martinez is a fairly average 154-pounder at 5’11’’.

Coupled with this natural disadvantage is the fact that Martinez is all of 35 years old. This is very much a “do or die” fight against his 28 year old opponent. Pavlik also, has seen criticisms over his last couple of performances and will be hungry to put on a dominant performance.

Although Williams-Martinez was a terrific stoush, the style match up with Pavlik just seems too difficult. He is coming in against a larger, younger, more powerful opponent and I just don’t think Martinez will be able to back him up. He should frustrate Pavlik with his movement but I think “The Ghost” needs this more. Even when he was losing with Hopkins, Pavlik never stopped trying and he is bound to catch Martinez.

Pavlik KO10

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