“Who’s Your Duddy”?

22.10.07 - Eric R. Sloan: While still unofficial, word on the street is that Kelly Pavlik will make his first middleweight title defense against Ireland’s John Duddy in January. If so, then we already have a breath of fresh air in the division with a champion willing to take on a ranked middleweight opponent. Frankly, we haven’t had such for a long time. This isn’t to say that Jermain Taylor mismanaged his reign at the top, well okay maybe a little, but there aren’t that many good marquee match-ups at 160. That being said, it has been reported that Taylor has until October 29th to exercise his rematch clause. Note to Jermain: take an interim fight.

John Duddy is a quality opponent; however, he has a bad habit of getting hit. He bounces and moves like a leprechaun on speed, but Anthony “No. 1 Daddy” Bonsante was able to make Erin Go Brawl interesting before the fight was stopped due to a cut. Like most Irish boxers though, Duddy can give it as well as he gets it. He is an excellent finisher when he has an opponent in trouble. He has also never lost a fight—scoring a TKO against Prince Arron last Saturday. At the end of the day though, Duddy will likely find the canvas and Kelly Pavlik will have his first title defense behind him.

So what then? Well, assuming that Taylor decides to wait, the Pavlik-Taylor rematch will likely happen in the fall of 2008. The bigger question is who will Taylor take as an interim fight? An interesting chess move may be for Taylor to battle Felix Sturm for the WBA title. If successful, then the Pavlik rematch would be champion versus champion. Not that Taylor will soon forget the beat down Pavlik placed on him last month, but every psychological advantage helps. A Taylor win over Pavlik and the money involved will dictate a trilogy.

Outside of all that, the middleweight division is pretty hollow right now. It is understood that Arthur Abraham is out there with a belt and title unification minded Pavlik may well want to add it to his collection. Say what you will about Mike Tyson, but he was never satisfied until he owned every major belt in the heavyweight division. Pavlik seems to be of the same mold, which should be the case for every fractional champion. Besides, according to Bob Arum, Pavlik is the next Marvelous Marvin Hagler, so belt accumulation should be on Kelly’s “to do” list. Note to Kelly: pass on the Right Guard deodorant gig.

Once all of that is sorted out, the clichéd “elephant in the room” is the middleweight champion of Kronk Gym—Andy Lee. According to Manny Steward, Lee is the next Thomas Hearns; however, Lee is about two years out from being ready for a title shot. So there you have it, assuming nothing changes, which may not be such a big assumption, we’re told that we’ll get something akin to Hagler-Hearns in about two years. Note to Manny: don’t forget that your guy lost that classic battle.

Pavlik-Lee is more than just a fight—it’s redemption. Before slobbering all over Pavlik while Taylor was snorting smelling salts, Manny referred to Pavlik as essentially an uncoordinated wannabe. While he will never publicly criticize Pavlik again, you know that Steward is salivating at the thought of a Pavlik-Lee fight in about two years. Don’t kid yourself; Lee has always been Steward’s middleweight. Jermain Taylor was simply a project with the operative word being “was.” Steward sought out Lee and has worked his corner since his first professional fight. As such, it is no understatement to say that Lee represents everything Steward has to offer, and Steward believes that everything he has to offer is enough to take the title from Kelly Pavlik. Note to HBO: sign Andy Lee.

This concludes the state of the middleweight division for the next two years or so. There will certainly be buzz about matching Pavlik against the winner of Kessler-Calzaghe, and for some reason Sergio Mora believes that he is quality opposition. Nobody at 154 presents anything remotely interesting, including one-time middleweight champion, Oscar De La Hoya. After the Jermain Taylor-Kelly Pavlik era concludes, the middleweight division will go to sleep again for awhile. So the question remains, Kelly Pavlik, who’s your “Duddy”? Well, he may well be Irish, but his first name isn’t John.

Article posted on 22.10.2007

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