Kelly Pavlik – Jermain Taylor II Press Conference

By Matthew Hurley: Monday’s press conference for the Kelly Pavlik – Jermain Taylor rematch was a fairly sedate affair. Both fighters expressed respect for each other and promised victory on Saturday night when they meet at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The bout will be fought at a catch-weight of 166 pounds. Pavlik’s middleweight title will not be on the line..

Their first bout, which Pavlik won by seventh round knockout, was a candidate for fight of the year and while both men are looking to continue the fireworks that so thrilled fans on that night there is a chance that hesitancy may come into play in the rematch as both fighters know what the other brings to the table. Taylor’s trainer Ozell Nelson has said that establishing the jab and keeping the fight in the center of the ring will be his fighter’s main objective. He does not want Jermain laying on the ropes, which he has inexplicably done in his most recent bouts. He also maintains that training camp was focused intently on endurance which would seem to indicate that they are looking towards a distance fight.

However, at the press conference it was obvious that Taylor is looking to exact revenge on Pavlik. The prideful fighter also let slip that he feels he will knock Pavlik out but then qualified that by saying that a decision victory would suit him just as well.

Before both fighters were introduced to the press promoter Bob Arum introduced Youngstown native and former lightweight champion Ray ‘Boom Boom’ Mancini. Mancini talked of the pride Pavlik’s hometown feels for him but warned the champion that boxing fans, even those within your own home base, can be fickle.

“You have to enjoy it,” he said. “My father said ‘one day a headline the next day a breadline. It’s all true. Enjoy it (but) its borrowed time. Fame is like elected office – same people who put you in can take you out. The same people who call you champ one day will call you a bum on the way out. So enjoy it but be respectful.”

Taylor, 27-1-1 with 17 KOs appeared to appreciate that comment as he has been going through that very turnabout in his home state of Arkansas. Once a source of community pride Taylor saw his blue skies darken after pedestrian performances against Kassim Ouma and Cory Spinks. The sudden reversal in fan approval deeply affected the sensitive fighter but he insists he never lost his confidence. And despite being knocked out in the seventh round by Pavlik his fans appreciated his effort and for the most part seem to be back on board with the former champion.

“A lot of people have said to me that I should take a tune-up and get my confidence back,” Taylor said. “(But) I never lost my confidence. I choose to do this rematch because that’s what a fighter should do. I want to beat the guy who beat me. I don’t want to waste any time with tune-ups. That’s what the fans want.”

Taylor hesitated and then praised Pavlik’s performance, mentioning that it was Kelly’s conditioning that allowed him to survive the second round when he hit the canvas and seemed to be close to a knockout loss. He then concluded that it was his own lack of endurance that led to his downfall.

“I got comfortable. It’s just been all up since the Olympics and I just got comfortable. He came to fight. I had the boy out on his feet but he came back. I’m not gonna fight someone that means nothing. I want to fight the man who beat me up. Come the sixteenth its all about revenge. He knocked me out… I’m going in to fight. This is gonna be a fight. If I get him hurt this time I guarantee I’ll finish him.”

Before Arum introduced Pavlik he made a quick endorsement for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, which brought a laugh from the crowd. Pavlik, 32-0 with 29 KOs then kept his comments brief.

“You guys know me, not much for words. I’m loving this 166 pounds. I have more energy for training. Jermain deserves this rematch. I was surprised he wanted it at first but then you look at the guys he fought, longtime champ Bernard Hopkins, Winky Wright who was still pound for pound one of the best, so of course he took the fight. (But) I’m not giving anything up after seven long years. You’re all going to see a continuation of the seventh round and I’m coming out with a ‘W’. Knockout or decision, I’m coming out with a ‘W’.”

The Pavlik – Taylor II February 16th pay-per-view broadcast, beginning at 9 pm ET/6 pm PT will be produced and distributed by HBO Pay-Per-View at a suggested retail price of $49.95. The fight will take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Tickets can be purchased at the MGM Grand box office or through Ticketmaster.

Article posted on 13.02.2008

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