The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty


It’s been talked about for a while, and appears to be oozing towards reality at least insofar as HBO has stuck a price tag to it. Now, negotiations are negotiations and I’ve got no idea what’s on the table beyond what Dan Rafael writes about in his blog, but…if I’m Paul Williams I take the fight. Bargain hard, get the biggest check you can, but take the fight because you’re going to win. Williams is a godawful stylistic matchup for anyone with the normal compliment of arms and legs, but if possible he’s even worse for Pavlik than for most fighters. He can move and jab and throw so fast that his punchstat goes up like the deficit clock, or he can sit down on his shots and whack guys; he’s a southpaw where Pavlik hasn’t faced one of those since a used-up Bronco McKart in ’06; he’s able and willing to smother on the inside; he’s got high-level experience against good to great fighters; he’s got an excellent chin and good durability judging from the Margarito and first Quintana fights; and despite listing about 2 inches shorter than Pavlik, he’s got a seven inch reach advantage.

Now, Pavlik could win; he’s big and tough and has an excellent punch, and he’ll keep going for all 12. But he’s trained now by the same people who couldn’t teach him how to touch Bernard Hopkins at any point prior to the post-fight hug, and he’s given zero indication since that wipeout of having learned how to deal with quicker fighters who can use control of distance and good foot movement to keep him lumbering vainly after them. If he even catches Williams I’m not sure he can hurt him consistently enough to win rounds, if he hurts him I doubt whether he can finish him given the Punisher’s strong survival instincts, and if he can’t do either of those things he’s pretty much proven that he doesn’t have a plan B as a fighter at this point in his career. It’s hard for me to see this fight as anything other than Williams popping a jab, giving angles, digging to the body as Pavlik comes in and then holding, pushing off and repeating along with the occasional timed hard left cross upstairs. it’s just not a good matchup for Youngstown’s finest; to the extent that anyone has ever solved Williams it was Quintana in their first fight and he basically did it with timing and counterpunching making Williams come to him and out-slicking the slickster, and A) Williams sure solved that problem the second time through and B) the day Kelly Pavlik wins a fight with that gameplan is the day I join Dana White in base-jumping from the MGM Grand’s roof.

If I’m Pavlik I’m running from this fight. Yes, it’s the most short-term money, but there are other options and in the future there’s noise and cash to be made at 168, provided the still-only-27 Pavlik actually learns more about his craft. If I’m Pavlik’s handlers I’m hiring an actual trainer to at least add nuances to the Ghost’s game and spending the learning period fighting the guys Rafael mentions: Winky Wright and Sergio…ugh…Mora. Those aren’t exactly legacy fights but they’ll keep the bills paid on the way to bigger things. Fighting Williams here is a 10-20% proposition of a big win and big money vs. an 80- 90% chance of an ugly, humiliating loss which takes Pavlik’s title- his major negotiating leverage- away and confirms him in the public mind as a fighter who can’t deal with a given style at all. Even worse, if Jermain Taylor gets whacked quickly in the concurrent 168 tournament there will be people, rightly or wrongly, saying that Pavlik just barely won his title from a guy who was never really that good to begin with and that when he’s stepped up to the top level against Williams and Hopkins he’s been destroyed. If that scenario transpires you end up with a 28 year old fighter with a damaged reputation, no major bargaining chips other than some residual drawing power, and no obvious opponents other than throwing himself into the mix at 168- and even then he’ll be waiting for the tournament to end most likely, and won’t be viewed as much more than just another guy in the division. In essence, a fight against Williams risks letting Williams do to Pavlik what Pavlik did to Taylor, except that Taylor had to take the risk as Pavlik was his mandatory while Williams holds no such claim over Pavlik. The risk/reward on this one does not add up for Kelly Pavlik.

August 4, 2009 - Posted by | Boxing | ,

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