Pavlik - Lockett Prediction
By JE Grant
Budding superstar, Ohio’s Kelly Pavlik, is putting more than his Ring Magazine World Middleweight Championship on the line when he faces number one alphabet contender "Rocket" Gary Lockett Saturday in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall. He knows that ultra-lucrative dates with boxing’s elite abound with a victory over the untested and likely overrated Lockett.
Despite having beaten no middleweight fighter resembling top-ten status, Lockett has "rocketed" to the top of one of the organizations whose belt Pavlik owns.
Thus, another in the latest series of “mandatories” in boxing that have to be taken care of while a champion awaits bouts with fighters actually deserving of a title opportunity. Interestingly, while one of the alphabet sanctioning bodies sees Lockett as "number one" the other organization that recognizes Pavlik as champion lists Lockett at number fifteen. Fortunately, the Ring is not hindered by the influences of any of the numerous (and clearly illegitimate) so-called "world" sanctioning organizations.
That’s not to say that Lockett is without some talent. He sports record of 31-1 with 21 knockouts which suggests he possesses some power.
The operative word is “suggests” because many of Lockett’s knockouts have come against the likes of his most recent opponent, Kai Kauramaki. The 40-year old traveler left his 4th round knockout loss to Lockett with a record of 13-14 including 8 knockout losses.
Conversely, in his most recent outings, Pavlik knocked out and decisioned Jermain Taylor, and stopped big punching Edison Miranda. The collective upshot of those wins, in addition to the Ring world title, has been to push Pavlik to the front for American boxing fans looking for an exciting hitter with genuine skills.
Pavlik proved in his rematch with Taylor that he is not wed to blasting out opponents early. He showed a disciplined attack working behind a sharp jab that did not allow Taylor to threaten a repeat of his early knockdown of Pavlik in their first meeting. It’s apparent the 26-year old champion continues to improve.
The confidence gained in those bouts spells trouble for Lockett at every turn. Pavlik, 33-0 with 29 knockouts has seen power greater than Lockett’s (see Miranda and Taylor) and not only survived but thrived.
The 31-year old Lockett has moved his career along slowly to this point, moving between 154 and 160 pounds and never fighting outside of Europe.
He will find some solace in the recent major win by fellow Welshman Joe Calzaghe who for years was dogged by criticism for being matched with questionable competition and never fighting in America. Calzaghe answered critics by smacking around Jeff Lacy and Mikkel Kessler before storming to the U.S. and defeating the legendary Bernard Hopkins.
Of course the major difference is that Calzaghe had more than 20 title defenses against a distinctly higher grade of opponent than has Lockett. Their shared Welsh heritage, and common trainer Enzo Calzaghe, notwithstanding, the comparison is not fitting.
Lockett is out to prove two things: 1. His power is real, and 2. He can absorb the power of Pavlik. While his power is likely real, it is not nearly at the Miranda or Taylor level. He is also unlikely to comprehend the volume and pacing Pavlik has so ruthlessly used against the best his division has to offer. Lockett will land early and for his trouble he will find wicked shots in return. He has no history of hotly contested bouts and that fact will not serve him well when Pavlik comes pounding away.
Pavlik will lead patiently with his jab and allow the one-trick Lockett to blow off some steam before scoring big shots. The pace will increase steadily and Lockett will find himself left behind as Pavlik turns on the jets.
The right hands will rain on Lockett after round 5 and he won’t have a sufficient answer to keep Pavlik away.
Pavlik by KO in 7.