LAS VEGAS-Behind a power left jab and strafing right hands Kelly Pavlik bulled his way to another victory over former champion Jermain Taylor in a non-title fight on Saturday at the MGM Grand.
No knockdowns were seen in this fight, but middleweight world champion Pavlik and Taylor fought to the entire 12 rounds at a fight held at 164 pounds before more than 12,000 very vocal fans.
“My jabs and right hand punches landed,” said Pavlik (33-0, 29 KOs). “He was better but I was better too.”
Middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik used a strong left jab and proved the first fight was no fluke in beating former champion Jermain Taylor by decision in a non-title bout on Saturday at the MGM Grand.
Ohio’s Pavlik and Arkansas’s Taylor brought a Midwestern crowd to Las Vegas and demonstrated the Midwestern gritty in pounding each other for 12 rounds before more than 12,000 people.
Neither fighter could knock down the other, but they never stopped trying.
Unlike the first fight, this was held at 164 pounds. The extra weight didn’t equate more power as neither fighter hit the deck like in their previous fight last September when both were dropped.
There was no adjustment period with Pavlik and Taylor swinging for the fences. A left hook to the body and a right hand to the head by Pavlik opened up things. Several combinations landed on Taylor who fought back.
Taylor used two right hand counters to win the second round and perhaps establish respect from Pavlik. Though Pavlik used a steady jab to mount points, it was Taylor’s two right hands that were the best punches.
The jab began to work for Taylor in the third round. Several times it snapped Pavlik’s head back violently.
“He began countering my jabs,” said Pavlik. “He won the third through the sixth rounds.”
Pavlik worked to reaffirm his power and closed the distance. An overhand right hand landed on Taylor but he responded with left hooks.
A right hand to the body followed by a left hook began round five for Pavlik. He used his ramrod jab to keep Taylor in a defensive mode.
Taylor rebounded in the sixth round by attacking Pavliks body with rights and lefts. Then several right hand counters to the head scored heavy for the Arkansas fighter.
The big jab of Pavlik began pounding Taylor backward in the seventh round. Taylor went into reverse gear as the big Ohio fighter fired pounding jabs.
“When we started backing him up we took away a lot of his aggression,” said Jack Loew, Pavlik’s trainer.
The eighth round saw Pavlik using feints to get Taylor out of position and it worked several times. Taylor fired back and landed a combination at the end of the round but not enough to win the round.
Pavlik seemed stronger in the ninth round, but Taylor fired back with some good combinations to keep from being dominated. It wasn’t enough. Pavlik kept plodding forward with those one-twos.
A fading Taylor found the energy to mount another counter-attack. Using his left jab the Arkansas boxer created some openings for his combinations.
A pair of riveting right hands –one to the body and another to the head - buckled Taylor and forced him to hold onto Pavlik in the 11th round.
Both fighters attempted to fire more punches in the final round, but their legs weren’t there for them. The judges all scored the decision for Pavlik 117-111, 115-113, 116-112.
“I thought I did enough to win the fight,” said Taylor. “I guess I lost.”
Pavlik plans to return to the 160-pound middleweight division.
“It took me seven years to win this title,” explained Pavlik. “I want to keep it for a while.”
Montiel KOs Castillo
WBO junior bantamweight titleholder Fernando Montiel (36-2-1, 27 KOs) demonstrated in the first round he was the stronger fighter and ended it with a knockout of fellow Mexican and former champion Martin Castillo (33-3, 17 KOs).
A quick left hook on the chin dropped Castillo in the first round. But he got up quickly more surprised than hurt.
“I knew when I knocked him down in the first round it was going to be a good night for me,” said Montiel of Los Mochis, Mexico.
Montiel seemed to feel he was the stronger fighter and was willing to fire big shots instead of probing for an opening. A right hand found the mark on the top of Castillo’s head in the second round.
Castillo seemed to find his rhythm in the third round an landed some nice two-punch combinations. But a strong left hook caught Castillo the jaw at the bell to steal the round for Montiel.
Sensing he could overpower Castillo, Montiel went on the attack and fired combinations including a ripping right uppercut. With Castillo in the survival mode Montiel fired a left hook to the liver for a knockout victory at 1:56 of the fourth round.
“Boxing is about styles and I don’t think Castillo could figure mine out,” Montiel said.
It was a shocking ending to a fight that most felt would be a tactical and slow moving fight. Montiel was in surprisingly in control the entire fight.
“I got cold with a left hook in the first round and a liver shot in the fourth,” said Castillo, the former WBA titleholder from Mexico City. “Montiel fought like a great champion.”
WBC title remains with Mijares
WBC Cristian Mijares (34-3-2, 13 KOs) kept his title with an effective jab in fending South Central Los Angeles boxer Jose Navarro (26-4, 12 KOs) in a close junior bantamweight fight.
Stylistically it was two superior southpaw boxers with polish and skills that have made many call them two of the best in the junior bantamweight division.
With two slick junior bantamweight southpaws Mijares tried an old Jersey Joe Walcott walk away then punch move that didn’t land. But both fighters tried to show off their defensive and combinations with little effect.
In the second round a right uppercut by Mijares was the best punch landed, then Navarro landed a double right hook. Few punches are landing. A stiff right jab punctuates the round for Mijares.
Both fighters found the range in the third with Navarro landing some long one-twos. Mijares countered effectively off the ropes but was met with a sizzling right uppercut at the end of the round.
Mijares and Navarro both were unable to land any clean punches in the fourth round. Navarro may have won the round with a solid right to the body at the bell.
The Mexican fighter began landing a stiff right jab throughout the fifth round. Navarro tried to land combinations but was met by Mijares combinations.
In the sixth round Mijares landed a left-right-left combination that saw all three punches land. It was an avalanche of connected punches up to now. Mijares seems to have discovered that his stiff jab is the difference.
Navarro stepped up his attack and met Mijares in the middle of the round. Both fired combinations with each landing some punishing blows. Navaroos’ nose is bleeding profusely.
The Los Angeles fighter changed tactics in the eighth and fought mostly inside. Firing combinations up and down Navarro has his best round and connects with a solid right uppercut.
Mijares seemed more willing to hit and move but it may have been Navarro’s left hand counters that won the round. A few right jabs by Mijares were effective in the ninth.
A strafing left hand counter snapped Mijares back as Navarro fought back in the 10th round. Both fighters landed combinations.
The 11th round saw Mijares land some terrific combinations including a left hand that opened up a big cut over Navarro’s right eye. The referee stopped the fight to check the eye and let the fight go on. Navarro came roaring back with some left hands and both exchanged big punches.
Both fighters had swelling but Navarro seemed to be unable to see out of both eyes. Miajres seemed stronger and used his jab to score.
The judges scored it a split-decision for Mijares, but one judge Chris Tucker of Reno surprisingly had it 120-108 for Navarro winning every round. Judges Adelaide Byrd scored it 117-111 for Mijares and Russell Mora had it 115-113 for Mijares who retains the WBC title.
Navarro sunk to his knees on the corner having failed for the fourth time at winning a world title.
Ronald Hearns (18-0, 14 KOs), the son of former great Tommy Hearns, staggered Topeka’s Juan Astorga (11-2-1, 7 KOs) in the third round, dropped him in the fourth round and couldn’t seem to finish the job. But in the eighth and final round a counter right hand staggered Astorga again and Hearns came in quickly to fire a right and another right for a knockdown. Referee Jay Nady stopped the junior middleweight fight at 1:10 of the round for a technical knockout.
Former junior flyweight world champion Brian Viloria (21-2-1, 12 KOs) knocked down Mexico’s Cesar Lopez (20-6, 4 KOs) with a counter right hand in the fifth round and cruised to victory with a steady flow of pinpoint punches. The judges scored it 78-73 twice and 77-74 for Viloria. Viloria now trains out of Oxnard.
Oxnard’s Mikey Garcia (11-0, 9 KOs) fired a single right hand that sounded like a bazooka and must have felt like one for Miami’s Jorge Ruiz (5-4-1) in a junior lightweight bout. At 1:35 of the fifth round referee Toby Gibson stopped the fight for a technical knockout win for Garcia.
Spain’s Sergio Martinez (42-1-1, 22 KOs) was scheduled to have a 10-round fight, but his opponent arrived 10 pounds too heavy. They fought anyway in a four-round fight with Martinez spotting Miami’s David Torribio (14-11, 8 KOs) eight pounds in a junior middleweight match. Martinez proved the superior boxer winning a unanimous decision 40-36 twice and 39-37.
Brooklyn’s Daniel Jacobs (3-0, 3 KOs) stopped Denver’s tough Alexander Volkov (0-1-1) at 2:57 of the second round of a middleweight contest. It was Volkov’s best round but a Jacob’s right hand found its mark and dropped the Russian fighter. He survived but Jacob’s knocked him down twice more forcing referee Jay Nady to stop the fight at 2:57 of the second round.