Anyone with even a smidgen of interest in boxing should stay glued to their TV sets tomorrow night – last year’s fight of the year has its second phase.
Boxing has suffered recently partly because of the rise of mixed martial arts and because top fighters can go for years without facing anyone remotely good. It leads to frustration for the boxing public, long tired of tedious, utterly predictable bouts, even for world titles.
In this case, a crowd-pleaser is guaranteed. Jermain Taylor, the former Olympic bronze medalist and middleweight champ has a point to prove.
Kelly Pavlik is confident he’ll win his rematch with Taylor, 29, whom he knocked out in seven rounds in their first meeting five months ago. Taylor claims he’s trained harder than he’s ever done for this one.
Pavlik’s WBC and WBO middleweight championships won’t be on the line at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas as this is at a catchweight of 166lbs. Pavlik (32-0, 29 KOs) was the heavy underdog in their first fight and when knocked down in the second round, observers assumed Taylor was on the verge of keeping his unbeaten record.
Taylor (27-1-1, 17 KOs) could not finish the iron-chinned Pavlik, 25, and a sensational ending unfolded. The rematch promises to be another brutal and tantalizing affair with the odds more even this time.
Nayon ‘Donie’ Anglin is the head coach of the Cayman Islands Boxing Club. He is grooming Jesse Bodden for the Olympic trials next month. Anglin is confident that Taylor will resurrect his career in style.
‘I think Taylor is going to win this time,’ he said. ‘He went into the first fight with the wrong mentality altogether. Totally the wrong attitude. He ended up tiring himself when he couldn’t finish Pavlik off. Pavlik is strong but Taylor can beat him. It’ll be as good a fight as last time and if Taylor fights to stop him he can do it. But if he decides to go the distance, it will. I think Taylor will benefit more from the heavier weight because he’s a naturally bigger man.’
Anglin hosted the first Tuesday Fight Night at Jillian’s bar (underneath World Gym) this week. He showed boxing fans some classic fights on Jillian’s plasma TVs to a small but enthusiastic crowd. ‘For starters it was okay,’ he said. ‘We had about 12 people and some of them were asking for certain fights they want to see again which will happen next Tuesday. One of them asked for Marvin Hagler, one of the toughest middleweights ever, against John ‘The Beast’ Mugabe. It was a great fight and I’d love to see it again too. I’m going to try to get that.’
Patrons were treated to ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard v Thomas Hearns I, Hagler-Leonard, ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley v Miguel Cotto and an HBO special on the career of Meldrick Taylor. Tuesday Fight Night at Jillian’s starts at 7pm. Entrance is free. Jillian’s is showing the Pavlik-Taylor rematch tomorrow from 9pm.
‘Those who came were older people who love boxing and they were happy to see them again because those fights were better than the ones these days,’ said Anglin. ‘They fought for 15 rounds and were better conditioned. And when you see those old fights there was very little clinching and holding. Those guys were good boxers who could slip their shots and counter punch beautifully. Even Hearns who was known as a hard hitter had good defense. A lot of my technical training I learnt from watching Leonard.’