Five thoughts on Saturday's Kelly Pavlik fight, which ended in a unanimous decision loss to Sergio Martinez.
1. I haven't seen Kelly Pavlik look really good since June of 2008, when he beat Gary Lockett. Granted, Lockett wasn't a tough opponent but Pavlik was really sharp that night and it looked like he had a really, really bright career ahead of him.
Then he lost to Bernard Hopkins, looked so-so against Marco Antonio Rubio, battled a staph infection and looked rusty against Miguel Espino.
It all came to a head Saturday, when he looked slow against the athletic Martinez. But, in his defense, Martinez is a pretty darn good fighter.
2. I thought Martinez fought a perfect fight.
He danced out of trouble, he threw more punches, he exploited Pavlik's weaknesses and he closed really strong. Pavlik was leading after eight rounds, then Martinez took over the fight.
Martinez was much more willing to slug it out with Paul Williams in December and he wisely avoided that approach Saturday.
Afterward, Martinez said those two fighters were the best he's faced and said Pavlik has the best power of any of his opponents.
3. Although he has a rematch clause in his contract, it's hard to say whether Pavlik will take a rematch against Martinez.
My gut feeling is he will, since it's the best money fight out there for him and I'm sure he'd like to regain the titles. But I think he's better off cutting his losses and moving up to super middleweight, which is where his future lies anyway.
The Martinez camp would prefer to fight Antonio Margarito at 154 pounds, in which case they'd have to vacate the middleweight belts. But in listening to their comments at the post-fight press conference, they didn't seem to mind the idea of fighting Pavlik again. I think Martinez was grateful for the opportunity and believes Pavlik deserves the rematch if he wants it.
4. Covering Pavlik over the last three years has been among the highlights of my career.
He's just a good guy who has represented the city well. At 28, he has plenty of time to rebuild his career but it's going to take some time. His next fight could be the biggest of his career because a loss would be really, really costly.
One of the things we Youngstown reporters were wondering after Saturday's bout was whether we'd travel to cover Pavlik's next fight. At this point, my guess is no. And considering just 6,000 fans attended Saturday's bout -- about 4,000 less than the first Jermain Taylor fight -- it's not too soon to wonder what the loss will do to his following, at least for the time being.
5. One thing I forgot to mention in my fight story was Pavlik's trunks, which had the names of his two children on the back: Sydney and Kelly Jr.
I thought that was pretty cool.