As reported earlier, both Pavlik and Marco Antonio Rubio made the 160-pound limit at Friday's weigh-in. A couple of us reporters thought Pavlik looked a little weaker than usual (he weighed in at 159 pounds) but trainer Jack Loew dismissed it, saying the last few pounds are always tough.
Here's what's rolling around in my head a little more than 24 hours from fight time.
1. I sense Pavlik and Loew both have a massive chip on their shoulder entering Saturday's fight. A lot of people piled on Pavlik after his loss to Bernard Hopkins and feel like he was exposed as a one-dimensional fighter. Pavlik, however, has said he was significantly less than 100 percent for that fight (something I believe, by the way, considering he threw about half as many punches as he usually does) and thinks if he had been 100 percent, he would have beaten Hopkins. (That last part is up for debate, but a healthy Pavlik would have at least been more competitive.)
I write more about this in my two stories going in tomorrow's paper. One of them includes comments from phone interviews I did with Bert Sugar, Freddie Roach and Teddy Atlas this week. Incidentally, none of them mentioned Pavlik's health against Hopkins, which shows me that most people in boxing simply think Pavlik got trounced.
2. Pavlik said he needs to dominate and he's 100 percent correct. If he wins a close fight -- or loses -- Pavlik's stock will plummet. I saw Rubio fight on the undercard of the Pavlik-Hopkins bout and I wasn't impressed. He was losing for the first half of the fight and did enough in the second half to win. Still, he should be no match for Pavlik.
3. If Rubio brought any fans, I haven't seen them. I haven't really seen more than a handful of Mexican reporters, either. When I asked Bob Arum about this, he said Mexican reporters often expect their plane tickets and hotel rooms to be picked up by the promoters. Arum wasn't willing to do it for this fight and Rubio's profile isn't big enough for the Mexican news outlets to pick up the tab themselves.
4. I thought there was a pretty solid turnout at today's weigh-in. My guess was about 500 people showed up. Considering it took place at 1 p.m. on a cold day, that was good enough for me. Weigh-ins are pretty uneventful. The only reason they take place the day before the fight is to build publicity. When you think about it, it's two millionaires in their underpants stepping on a scale. The fact that Pavlik can draw big crowds for these things is pretty amazing.
5. We -- and several other media outlets -- are treating this as Youngstown's Super Bowl and I'm sure a lot of people are tired of it by now. I'm sympathetic -- frankly, my brain hurts a little and it's not even Fight Night -- but we make no apologies. This is the first title fight in Youngstown in 25 years and, besides, what else is going on? I love prep basketball as much as anyone, but I've got no problem with playing up the fight for one week.
6. This is another one of my notoriously long blogs, but I did want to relay some comments made by Noel Salwan, who runs Pavlik's Web site (www.teampavlik.com) and who is just an all-around good guy and pretty knowledgeable boxing fan. He wrote me earlier in the week after I reported that FightNews.com (a solid site) has Arthur Abraham ranked above Pavlik in the middleweight division.
"They may be the only reputable website or publication on the planet to say that Pavlik is #2 to Abraham. In fact, in Abrahams's home country of Germany, it's likely that no reputable news organization would make such a claim. It's just factually wrong.
Hopkins was the only person in ANY weight class since the creation of the WBO in 1988 to unify all four of the major belts in any weight class, WBO, WBC, WBA, IBF. A major historical feat. He did it in 2004 when he KO'ed Oscar De La Hoya for the WBO Middleweight belt adding it to the other three he already held. At that point, all those alphabet titles became IRRELEVANT. There came to be a TRUE CROWN or what avid boxing fans call "A Linear Title".
Taylor beat Hopkins for all 4 of those belts. Most weight classes are plagued by this confusing problem of 4 people claiming to be "champ". For most of boxing history there was only one champ in each weight class. That's why it was major news when Kelly won the true Middleweight Title. Before Taylor got unjustly stripped of a couple belts, (one now held by Sturm and the other by Abraham) he had never lost. Until... Kelly beat Taylor and got that historic Crown that took Hopkins 10 years to accumulate.
So, Kelly did not beat Taylor for belts, He beat him for THE Universal Title. It's just bizarre that fightnews chose to do such a thing."
7. I'll have blogs from Ringside starting around 8 p.m. Saturday. Since not much happens outside of the undercard bouts, these blogs will most likely be uninformative, meandering and full of witty observations. My only regret is that, since the Ring Girls are local, I can't make fun of them. But I'm confident I'll find other things to make fun of.