In two fights that could not have been any more different, Edison Miranda suffered his second loss, this one surely not to be contested as was his loss to Arthur Abraham, and Jermain Taylor won a close split decision to challenger Cory Spinks. Edison Miranda and Kelly Pavlik met tonight to 'discuss' who would have a chance to be ranked the #1 middleweight contender, Kelly Pavlik previously holding that distinction, Miranda holding the #2 spot. Boxing fans had been waiting for this match up between these two powerful fighters known for their knockout abilities. Pavlik, who is remains undefeated, chalked up another KO to his already impressive 27 victories out of 31 fights.
Early in the fight it was clear that Miranda's lack of decent defense was going to jeopardize even the most powerful efforts by the Colombian fighter. Pavlik took several tough shots from Miranda and easily shook off most of the damage. Pavlik locked Miranda first into one corner, then the next, then another pinballing a slow starting Miranda whose dynamic style was dependant on keeping his distance and setting up large punches.
"My entire plan was to back him up and not let him set up. I hit him with a straight right hand," Pavlik said after the fight. "Once he felt my power... "
If it was only once the fight may not have taken such a quick and brutal turn. Late in the 6th round, roping Miranda proved to be a good strategy as the constant punching breaking through Miranda's soft defense finally got the most of Miranda, who had been showing signs of tiring in the 3rd and 4th rounds. Pavlik caught Miranda with a straight right that crumpled him to the canvas. Though he stood before an eight count, he spit his mouth piece out, causing the referee Steve Smoger to halt the fight as it was retrieved and cleaned, for which Miranda was penalized a point. Chased by cries from the crowd for the Smoger to stop the fight, Miranda was able to last the final seconds of the 6th round only after being again knocked down by a persistent Pavlik. As the final seconds of round six drained from the clock, a nearly worn out Miranda retired to his corner. It was unclear how he would be able to continue into the next round.
As the 7th round began, everyone knew it wouldn't go the distance. Energized and determined, Pavlik went in for the kill, trapping Miranda against the ropes again and unleashing fist after fist until it seemed that the only thing keeping Miranda up was the rocking motion of Pavlik's punches. As Miranda's corner stepped in, so did Steve Smoger, stopping the fight.
In his last two title defenses, Jermain Taylor seemed to have a difficult time settling into the styles of each of his challengers. In Winky Wright he found a defensive and difficult draw and in Kassim Ouma we found a clear yet challenging victory over a smaller yet more aggressive fighter. In Cory Spinks, Taylor again fumbled ever slightly against an opponent whose style he was unable to pin down. For the opening rounds of the fight, Taylor and Spinks danced around each other to the tune of a blood thirsty crowd still reeling from the Pavilk victory.
The Taylor strategy is a calculated one, like so many of the fighters coming from Emanuel Stewards camp. After a calculated and quick exchanged filled four rounds, Spinks had some advantages in the cards with a slick in and out style that allowed him to score more constant punches and left Taylor searching for his opening that never quite came. But as the fight moved into the later rounds, Taylor appeared more frustrated than relaxed and began engaging Spinks.
Like most pure 'boxing' matches, the awkward mash of styles drew heated boos from fans at times, punctuated by cheers as each fighter occasionally dug in and traded some tough shots. Throughout much of the final rounds of the fight, Jermain Taylor was forced to chase after a quick and slick Spinks, who dodged in and out between Taylor's punches, frustrating him as he tried to land scoring blows.
At times it seemed that Spinks had the upper hand, and the eventual split decision would also lend to the impression that while Jermain was the better boxer tonight, he had troubles closing the deal against Spinks, much like his trouble against both Ouma and Wright. According to Spinks, he did more than enough to win the fight.
"I felt great... I executed my game plan, I think I won," Cory said. "I thought I gave a great boxing display. I'm very disappointed."
It wasn't just Spinks who felt a little cheated by the performance tonight.
"You want to be champion? Fight me, don't run from me," Taylor said. "He ran the whole time. I ran every day to get ready for this because I knew it was going to happen. You can't run and win a championship. I saw some tapes of him and he's a fighter sometimes, but he ran the whole fight."
HBO WCB - May 19, 2007
Miranda vs Pavlik