MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The opening bout on HBO's doubleheader at the FedEx Forum is the more intriguing bout, but it will be middleweight champion Jermain Taylor's defense of his WBC belt against Cory Spinks that receives top billing.
Here are the keys to victory for each of Saturday night's televised middleweight fights:
EDISON MIRANDA VS. KELLY PAVLIK
1. Slow the pace. Miranda likes to throw wide punches. Pavlik is an exceptionally hard puncher who throws at a high volume. If Pavlik manages to catch Miranda as he's looping one of those wide rights, it's good night. So Miranda needs to fight at a more measured pace and not take wild chances.
2. Force Pavlik to the ropes. Pavlik has a long reach and needs room to punch. Miranda should try to push Pavlik to the ropes, where Pavlik would then not only be a stationary target for Miranda's power shots but wouldn't have the distance he likes to get off his own.
3. Use his feints. Pavlik is prepared for a wild fighter who throws with abandon. If Miranda feints Pavlik, he may create an opening to land a fight-ending right hand.
4. Throw the left to the body. Miranda can slow Pavlik's attack by committing to the hook to the body.
1. Fight tall. Pavlik has a long reach and should use it.
2. Counter Miranda's overhand right. Miranda throws a high, wild overhand right that is ripe to be countered. If Pavlik can come over it, he will have success.
3. Back Miranda up. Miranda is only good when he's stalking. If he's backed up, he has few offensive weapons.
4. Double up on the jab. Straight punches down the middle will be successful against Miranda. They'll be even moreso if Pavlik connects with a pair of hard, quick jabs.
JERMAIN TAYLOR VS. CORY SPINKS
1. Use his physical advantages. Taylor is a bigger and stronger man. He should not hesitate to use his strength advantage by fighting very physically.
2. Put hands on Spinks. Even if he doesn't see an opening, Taylor should throw punches. Landing shots on the forearms and shoulders will have an impact the longer the fight goes.
3. Cut off the ring. Taylor can not afford for Spinks to circle at will. He has to cut off the ring and keep the fight in a confined area.
4. Hook to the body and then to the head. The combination will not only slow Spinks, but it will bring down his guard and make him vulnerable to Taylor's power.
1. Upset Taylor's timing. Taylor is a traditional, jab-right hand type of fighter. Spinks needs to take the champion out of his rhythm and make him continually reset.
2. Pepper him with jabs. Spinks isn't likely to hurt Taylor with anything he throws, so he needs to punch in volume. If he can double or even triple jab, he can rack up points and then safely dance away.
3. Avoid the corners. There is nothing good that can happen for Spinks in the corners and he should avoid them at all costs.
4. Move his head. He needs to be as elusive as possible and has to remember to give Taylor a difficult target.