Kelly Pavlik, Will "The Ghost" Come Back With A Scary KO In February?

by James Slater - Though he was comprehensively beaten by the great Bernard Hopkins back in October, losing for the very first time as a pro, 26-year-old Kelly Pavlik still has something the amazing 43-year-old does not - a world title. Pavlik lost the catch-weight non-title bout on October 18th, and with it his unbeaten record, but he remains the WBC, WBO and, more importantly, Ring magazine middleweight champion..

Attempting to put the B-Hop points loss behind him, the fighter known as "The Ghost" will return to the ring to defend his 160-pound belts on February 21st. Opposing Pavlik will be 28-year-old Mexican Marco Antonio Rubio, Pavlik's mandatory with the WBC. The question is, can Pavlik bounce back from his humbling defeat and smash Rubio to get back his confidence and reinforce his reputation as one of the sport's most frightening punchers?

What Pavlik needs is to string together a number of spectacular and chilling KO's back down at middleweight, and get his momentum well and truly going again. Capable on any given night of knocking ANY middleweight opponent flat, Pavlik enters phase one of his goal on Feb 21st, in his home town of Youngstown. And while Rubio is more than likely somewhat flattered by his position as WBC middleweight # 1 contender, he is a tough and game fighter nonetheless. What the 28-year-old with the 43-4-1(37) record also is, is a perfect comeback opponent for Pavlik to be able to look good against.

Not too hard to hit, come-forward aggressive and a fighter willing to get stuck in, Rubio will be no elusive and frustrating target for Pavlik the way the masterful Hopkins was. The fight could well be over quickly, but at the same time the bout could answer some questions. We don't know if or how badly Pavlik will enter the ring gun-shy as a result of what happened just over two months ago, yet on the other hand we don't know if the opposite will be true; if Pavlik will come in overanxious for the KO. Some may say, if he blasts Rubio out within a round or two, that the fight told us nothing - but we will know one way or the other if the middleweight champ has retained his willingness to let his hands go, along with his ruthless ability to put a guy to sleep quickly having unleashed his shots.

The last think Pavlik needs is for the fight to go late and for him to even struggle a little. Should this be the case, the whispers will be there, saying how Hopkins took something out of the once fearless bomber. This won't be how things unfold, though. Pavlik, as full of character as he is, will come back to the ring as though the loss in October never happened. Kelly may have been quiet since the Hopkins fight, and he may have been keeping a low profile - but you can expect him to come blasting back, letting his lethal fists do the talking as he does so, early next year.

Is Kelly Pavlik still capable of scoring scary-looking KO's? Yes he is, and he will recommence scoring them on Feb 21st. Look for "The Ghost" to chill the gutsy yet hittable Rubio inside three rounds. Then, hopefully, maybe after one more "easy" win, Pavlik will look ahead to a super-fight with a guy nicknamed "King" for the second half of 2009.

Article posted on 22.12.2008

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