If Pavlik Defeats Hopkins, Who Should He Fight Next?

Kelly PavlikBy Tim Neilson: With undefeated Kelly Pavlik's fight with Bernard Hopkins still a couple of months away, I thought it would be interesting to look beyond Hopkins, who I feel doesn't have much of a chance at winning, into the future against other top middleweights. Personally, I'm less than pleased with Pavlik's choice of Hopkins as an opponent, because of his age, his less than impressive performance against Joe Calzaghe and his tendency to clinch a lot, turning some of his fights into boring wrestling matches.

Given that this is Pavlik's second dull opponent in a row, with Gary Lockett being the first, I'm hoping that Pavlik starts fighting appealing middleweight opponents after he gets the Hopkins event out of his system. Preferably, I'd like to see Pavlik go up against middleweights like Arthur Abraham, the IBF middleweight champion, Felix Sturm or highly ranked fighters like Joe Greene, Anthony Mundine and Winky Wright. I seriously doubt that Joe Calzaghe will stick around to fight Pavlik, since he pretty much has proven that he doesn't want any part of him by his choice of Roy Jones Jr. as an opponent. Rather than stick around and potentially mess up his highly regarded legacy, I don't see Calzaghe wanting to take a dangerous opponent like Pavlik no matter how good Calzaghe looks against Jones.

That is a fight, though, that Pavlik needs to keep pursuing above all others, because Calzaghe may change his mind in the future, especially when he gives retirement a shot and sees how bored he is. I think after awhile, Calzaghe will change his mind. If Pavlik looks bad against Hopkins, yet still wins, look for Calzaghe to change his mind a little sooner about wanting to face Pavlik.

After his impressive 4th round TKO win over Edison Miranda in June, Abraham has greatly increased his standing in the boxing community. He looked nothing short of awesome against Miranda, showing one-punch power and precision punching. Abraham looks more like a light heavyweight than a middleweight, though, and his size and power would make him a dangerous opponent for Pavlik. This fight appeals to me much more than Pavlik's fight against Hopkins, which I see as a fight that will likely fail to live up to expectations.

If Pavlik is interested in fighting another opponent out of his weight class, I suggest he take on either Mikkel Kessler, the WBA super middleweight champion. That would be a far more appealing fight than Hopkins, and it would be an opponent with better boxing skills than Pavlik. Kessler moves well, fights well on the inside and outside, has an excellent defense and also punches with a lot of power.

This would be a very tough fight for Pavlik, because he couldn't just hope that he would walk him down like he's done to his other opponents, since Kessler moves much better and doesn't fight in a stationary manner like Pavlik. Barring a knockout win, I can't see Pavlik winning this fight. Kessler is just a superior fighter, both bigger and more advanced than Pavlik. Kessler has much more to him than just power-punching, although he can do that as well.

Article posted on 11.08.2008

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