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Kelly Pavlik vs. Sergio Martinez Fight Preview and Prediction

Kelly Pavlik vs. Sergio Martinez Fight Preview and Prediction
When: Saturday, April 17, 2010
Where: Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey
TV: HBO at 10 p.m. EST

Weight Class: WBC and WBO Middleweight Titles

By Scotty L of

Kelly Pavlik, 36-1 (32 KOs), Youngstown, Ohio. World Middleweight Champion Vs. Sergio Martinez, 44-2-2 (24 KOs), Madrid, Spain.

Fight Odds: Kelly Pavlik (-155), Sergio Martinez (+125)
Over/Under: Over 11.5 (-105). Over 11.5 (-135)

Fight Analysis: A terrific middleweight title fight takes place on April 17 when World Champion Kelly Pavlik takes on difficult challenger Sergio Martinez. Kelly Pavlik is looking to silence the growing legion of critics who have been on his case lately. The lanky 27 year-old champion did have some health issues to deal with, namely a staph infection that caused a cancellation of his highly anticipated match-up with Paul Williams. Nevertheless, the past two years have been disappointing—a couple of wipeout wins over low-grade contenders and a resounding decision loss to 45-year old Bernard Hopkins.

It’s just that the way Pavlik exploded on the scene, we expected a more exciting reign. He’s still young and still champion, so he still has time to make good on the promise everyone had for him. This is an extremely hard defense. Martinez has a style unlike anything Pavlik has managed to have success against. The last time he fought a fighter with world-class slickness, Hopkins schooled him. Martinez is a fighter who uses his brains in the ring. In addition, he is extremely fast and skilled. Over the past few years, fight fans have come to appreciate his talent and moxie.

He moved up to middleweight to face pound-for-pound entrant Paul Williams in his last bout. Williams is extremely tall for a middleweight, as is Pavlik. Martinez continually reached his opponent with showy and effective hooks. His timing was great and the fight could have gone either way. Unfortunately for Martinez, it went for Williams, but it was a loss that elevated his status as one of the very best practitioners at or around this weight.

The same reasons I thought Martinez would trouble Williams are even more at play in this fight. I figured Williams would lack the imagination and versatility to cope with Martinez. It was really his doggedness that allowed him to win. Pavlik is a powerful champion, but not the slickest. He tries to get in there and dig in his heels and fire away, especially with that right hand. I just think Martinez is the more advanced study in pugilism out of the two.

Pavlik is a hurtful puncher. Martinez was shifty in his fight with Williams, but wasn’t overly difficult to hit. That same predicament could spell doom for Martinez against a wrecking-ball puncher like Pavlik. Martinez could bedazzle round after round only to run into one fateful right cross and it’s over. When right, Pavlik’s punching power places him in rarified air among all-time middleweight punchers. And he’s tough. He looks like a tall skinny kid, but deep down, there’s a real fighter in there. He’s not afraid or unable to take a punch and he has the ability to dig down and win a fight as he showed in his up-from-the-floor win against Jermain Taylor to win the Middleweight Championship.

Scotty's Pick: I feel the old boxing credo “styles win fights” applies here. I think fighters like Martinez will always give Pavlik trouble with their cleverness, improvisation, and shiftiness. I feel Martinez is special enough in those categories to greatly trouble Pavlik. Pavlik is the bigger man and the harder puncher and it’s not too difficult to imagine those virtues winning the day. I just think Martinez is catching Pavlik at the right time here. Martinez is far more battle-tempered lately and Pavlik’s career seems headed in the wrong way. He could conceivably turn it around, but the signs are troubling—a series of fights against inferior competition, a rumored battle with the bottle, pullouts, and the lopsided loss to Hopkins.

I think Martinez will be in great danger throughout this fight, which may give way to a more focused perspective than when he fought Williams. I think he has what it takes to overcome some rocky moments that he is bound to face in this fight. My guess is that he wins enough rounds early and avoids collapse late to win a close, unanimous decision. Take the +125 on Sergio Martinez to win.

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