By Bobby Mac
A very intriguing middleweight title defense is coming up this Saturday when Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik defends his Ring, WBC, and WBO titles against the WBC junior middleweight champion, Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez.
Martinez was the late stand-in for the ailing Kelly Pavlik when Paul William’s expected title challenge to Pavlik at the end of 2009 fell out. Martinez lost a majority decision to Williams in a spirited nontitle middleweight bout that Martinez supporters claim he won. Regardless of the decision, Sergio Martinez won over a lot of fans with his performance, enough to catch the attention of the newly slighted Kelly Pavlik looking to regain his monumental reputation in the boxing world.
Pavlik is making his 6th defense of his titles that he won the hard way back in 2007 when he beat The Man who beat The Man, Jermain Taylor, who Kelly whacked out in the 7th round in thrilling bout. Since then, he has struggled with a career threatening accident when he put his hand through a pane of glass, then was near death in a reaction to treatment from a staphylococcus infection in his hand.
Pavlik also struggled somewhat in the ring, unable to replicate thrilling performances against Edison Miranda and Jermain Taylor before taking a near shutout drubbing at the hands Bernard Hopkins in a Light Heavyweight non title catchweight fight. Still, in spite of the adversity, here he is in his 6th defense against the biggest challenge of his career since he first challenged Jermain Taylor.
Sergio Martinez is a fast handed, southpaw Argentinean just now coming into his own at age 35. He will be giving up some significant size and strength against the huge Pavlik, but size and strength is not the Martinez stock in trade although he is plenty big enough. Martinez is a boxer reliant on speed and angles to earn his wins and operates out of a tricky southpaw stance.
It’s hard to know how Pavlik will adjust to fighting a southpaw since he has no significant experience with a southpaw at this high level. He was in training to fight Paul Williams who is also a southpaw, so Pavlik will at least have had some previous training accumulated. Likewise, Martinez has no experience against such a big strong, prime, heavyhanded fighter as is Pavlik. Williams was as tall, but more fast handed boxer than slugger and not nearly so physically strong.
It’s that unknown factor that both bring into the fight that makes it so intriguing to me. Usually I have a sense of how the fight is likely to unfold, but I’m coming up blank on this other than to note Pavlik is not likely to be outboxing Martinez who in turn is not likely to be outslugging Pavlik. Kelly should be the favorite, but perhaps not by so much.
I’m hoping for a classic slugger vs boxer fight of the year candidate that both gentlemen are fully capable of delivering. May the best man win.