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Kelly Pavlik Pounds “Rocket” Lockett in 3

The fight didn’t end so quickly because Gary Lockett was bad – Kelly Pavlik was just on his game. His jab was working, setting up straight rights and left hooks to the

By Kenneth Lundgren

The fight didn’t end so quickly because Gary Lockett was bad – Kelly Pavlik was just on his game. His jab was working, setting up straight rights and left hooks to the body. Lockett, a fighter who thrives mauling on the inside, couldn’t get close to the powerful Ohio fighter.

The crowd was pro-Pavlik, thousands of Youngstown citizens flocking to Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall. When Lockett came out, people were either booing or standing with their arms crossed, almost in disapproval – Who is this guy from Wales to fight our Kelly Pavlik?

When Kelly Pavlik came out, the roar from the crowd was so electric the floor was trembling – I couldn’t even hear whether or not the song was Korn’s “Here to Stay.” When Pavlik came rumbling by on his way to the ring, he had his full game face on, his gaze steely and hard.

“Kellyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy! Kellyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!”

As he stripped down, I could see Pavlik wearing light blue trunks, and later I would learn they showcased the insignias of the five branches of the military and the American flag.

The volatile energy inside the building was pure love for the Youngstown fighter and I have never seen anything like it. I felt almost sorry for Lockett, who also had his game face on – a villain-like snarl – but his eyes showed the nerves. All that talk of his power, how people had underestimated him – reality was about to set in. Quickly.

I think Enzo knew it too, standing their, his face completely emotionless as he smacked his gum around – can you say Deer Caught in Headlights?

Lockett actually fought well in the first thirty seconds, displaying fluid upper body movement and landing a hard right that moved Kelly Pavlik backwards. But… that was about it on the lists of Pros.

The story of this fight was Pavlik was too strong, too fast, towering over him and controlling the ring, backing Lockett and battering him. Lockett just couldn’t get inside. Pavlik’s jab was exceptional, very quick and keeping Lockett backing up and at bay, but also stunning Lockett and allowing Kelly to set up his best punch – that lethal right.

Midway through Round One, Pavlik rocked Lockett with a right, and the crowd were on their feet, already sensing weakness and defeat. Lockett got his senses, shuffling around, but the way he was rocked, we all knew the end was quickly inevitable.

In Round Two, Pavlik snapped Lockett’s head back with another right 30 seconds in. I have to admit that Lockett wasn’t afraid, bobbing around and trading blows. Pavlik stepped in and landed a three-punch combo, mixing left and right uppercuts, and Lockett smartly took a knee.

Lockett got up near the end of the 10-count and fought on. Pavlik continued to back him up steadily, and after he landed two more clean right crosses near the end of the round, Lockett took another knee. He got up and shortly thereafter the bell rung.

Round Three only saw more of the same, and I knew the fight wasn’t going to last long. Pavlik didn’t use much upper body movement all fight, mostly deflecting blows with his hands and retaliating. I was surprised this simple defense worked so well against a guy of Lockett’s caliber.

Early in the third, Pavlik rained down on Lockett, wobbling him, then landing a vicious right behind Lockett’s ear. Lockett wobbled again, then took the knee. As he stood up, Enzo threw the towel in.

“Watching the films, the kid was a legitmate fighter,” Pavlik said at the press conference. “He’s quick, very fast left hook, really fast right hand. We watched four to five films on him. I made a dumb mistake in the first round. He caught me with a good right hand that we knew was coming. I got lazy with my jab. Other than that, we fought a smart fight.

“I stuck to my game plan. I knew he was going to counter our jabs, so I was doubling the jab up, popping it and bringing it back again. I knew he never had anyone punching at my pace, with the speed and power I have. Once we caught him with a couple of clean shots, he did the smart thing by taking a knee. He was really hurt. He didn’t want to take any chances of being put out…”

Kelly showed immense respect to his European challenger, who missed the press conference due to a hospital visit. “He was a sharp fighter. I’m just glad I could go in there and take out a durable opponent like that in two rounds. I don’t think he’s ever been stopped before. He was the mandatory challenger. He had a great record. But we went in there and did what we were supposed to do and beat him better than most people thought.

“I wasn’t expecting Ezno to throw the towel. He [Lockett] was getting up again. The body shots really hurt him. The first knockdown could’ve been a combo the left to the body or the right hand over the top. I was just hurtin’ him pretty much everywhere. I gotta take my hat off to him. He kept on getting back up, he kept comin’ back to fight. He’s a road dog.”

The fight the boxing public really wants to see is with another Welshmen, Joe Calzaghe. “I’ll fight anybody,” Pavlik said. “My job is to go in there and fight. If they put Godzilla in there, I’ll go in there and fight. I train. I run. I work out. At the end of the day, when I get that phone call and they say, ‘Kelly, you have to go fight Joe, or Arthur,’ I’ll fight ‘em.”

Pavlik would also like to unify the middleweight division by fighting Felix Sturm and Arthur Abraham. “I’ll definitely fight them. They have the other two belts. A lot of people do recognize me as the undisputed middleweight champion, but I do want those belts. They’re nice belts. I’ll put them in my trophy case.”

Pavlik wore light blue boxing trunks, which showcased insignias of the armed American forces. “These 18 year old babies, goin’ over there, putting their lives on the line. I wanted to go out there and show the public that these guys are still over there. I’m not doing anything near what they’re doing, but I’m still fighting and going into a fight. I wanted all of them [branches] on the trunks.

“I wanted to bring some attention back to our troops and let people realize these guys are still over there, putting everything on the line and we’re over here worrying about who’s going to get elected.”

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