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Mailbag: Navarro, Pavlik-Taylor, and more

Kevin Iole
Yahoo Sports

There are dozens of boxers who have world title belts around their waists who are nowhere good as Jose Navarro.

These men have nowhere near as much heart, toughness and ring smarts. But Navarro is likely never to join them in that elite class of men who can call themselves world champions.

Navarro lost his fourth, and what was probably his last, crack at a world title on Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas when he was beaten by the magnificent Cristian Mijares in a bid for the WBC super flyweight championship.

Navarro's loss got a bit more attention than normal Saturday action because of the odd score of judge Doug Tucker, who gave Navarro every round. Judge Adalaide Byrd had it 117-111 for Mijares and Chris Wilson had it 115-113 for the reigning champion.

I scored it 116-112 for Mijares, who is clearly one of the world's elite boxers.

So, too, though, is Navarro. On Jan. 3, 2005 in Tokyo, in his first crack at a world title, most observers thought he'd won the WBC super flyweight belt from Katsushige Kawashima except two who counted. Judge William Boodhoo saw it that way, giving Navarro 11 rounds and calling one even.

But the other judges, Gelassio Perez Huerta and Noppharat Sricharoen each scored it for Kawashima. Video of the bout was circulated on the Internet and it outraged fans who saw it.

That forced Navarro back onto the road for his next two title shots, both of which were grueling, close fights. He lost in a bid for the WBC belt again on Feb. 27, 2006, to Masamori Tokuyama in a fight that could have gone either way.

And then he lost a bid last year for the vacant IBF super flyweight belt when he dropped a razor-thin decision to Dmitri Kirilov in Russia.

Navarro has been a very good fighter whose only losses in 30 pro fights came in his four title opportunities.

Through it all, he's been exceptionally classy and exemplified the word professional. Boxing could use many more like Jose Navarro.

Now, it's on to the weekly mailbag, which was dominated by conversation on the Kelly Pavlik-Jermain Taylor fight that was held on Saturday. Remember, for your question to be considered, you must include your first and last name and your hometown. As always, my responses are in italics:

BETTER CONDITION

Jermain (Taylor) has to open his eyes and admit to himself that he still has a lot of work to do. His conditioning is frequently his downfall. Usually in Rounds 4 and 5, he seems to stop and takes a break or becomes a counter puncher. That's not him. He has to keep working and working his jab, because it's his money punch.

Shamarr Ford
Little Rock, Ark.

Taylor fought about as well as he could fight and still came up short. His jab was good, but he didn't throw a right hand behind it. That's probably because he was concerned by Pavlik's power and didn't want to be knocked out. The more you punch, the more open you are to be punched.


BAD SCORING

You are blind, man. Pavlik dominated Taylor. His jab dominated and he threw three punches to one. Taylor landed some great body shots and he should have pressed on that part. Otherwise, it was a dominant performance by Pavlik. He won by four or five rounds easily. I guarantee you have watched more boxing then you. Get another job, dude.

Gary Hettinger
Grove City, Ohio

Sorry, Mr. Boxing, despite what you have to say, it was a close fight and a difficult one to score. The judges all had the same score in just three of the 12 rounds. Those were the first, the 11th and the 12 (and I might add that I scored them as the judges did in those rounds). My score of 115-113 for Pavlik was reasonable. Pavlik won the bout, though it was not as one-sided in his favor as Mr. Boxing suggests or, for that matter, as this column by Wally Hall of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette suggests it should have been for Taylor.


UNBEATABLE

Kelly Pavlik showed me he has it all. He can knock you out in any round if he wants to, and he can go the distance if he decides to. Besides the good defense and powerful right hand, plus the great jab, he can also get you with a great body shot, like he did to Taylor in the 11th round that almost ended the fight. Can he be beaten? Who do you think can give him a better fight?

Ernesto Casas
Los Angeles

Pavlik is a very talented fighter and deserves his place among the elite boxers in the world. But let's not get carried away. Yes, he can be beaten. There aren't a lot of great middleweights out there, so he may hold the belts for a while, but he's hit far too often to say he's unbeatable.


ALL-TIME GREAT

What do you really think Kelly Pavlik's long-term potential is? I feel he could be a top 10 all-time in the middleweight division if he keeps up his current run.

Robert W. Logan
Northridge, Calif.

Pavlik is clearly the best middleweight in the world and I think he has the potential to become the best super middleweight and the best light heavyweight. He has the frame to accept the weight and be able to move up and be successful. But he's nowhere near an all-time top 10 middleweight, nor do I ever think he will be. When I asked Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward about promoter Bob Arum's claim that Pavlik could become the best middleweight ever, he rolled his eyes and said, "Please. Let's not get ridiculous." Just in Pavlik's lifetime, there were guys like Marvin Hagler, Carlos Monzon and Thomas Hearns who are far superior. Pavlik is the best of the current crop, but there needs to be a little perspective. The competition in the division is nowhere near what it once was.


BAD BREAKDOWN

I don't see how you can give Pavlik such a decisive advantage. Taylor has been in twice against Bernard Hopkins and fought Winky Wright. You can't help but pick up ring smarts and intangibles against them. Taylor did lose the first fight to Pavlik, but was ahead on the cards. His corner is not necessarily better than Pavlik's, but Taylor is better off without Steward. This is a dead-even fight which could go either way every time they were to fight.

Brian Evatt
Little Rock, Ark.

To be fair, Brian wrote before the fight. After seeing them in the ring together, I thought Pavlik merited an edge over Taylor in most categories, which is why I had it 83-73 in my fight breakdown for the rematch. But it wasn't like I thought going in it would be a bloodletting. I expected a close, hard fight and was one of the few who picked Pavlik by decision instead of by knockout.


LOST READER

Way to go on your column attempting to expose Jermain Taylor as a fraud on the day of his rematch against Kelly Pavlik. You have officially lost a reader. I will go out of my way from now on to find boxing coverage elsewhere. Just a few months ago, you actually chose Taylor to beat Pavlik. You write off Taylor's victories against Hopkins without mentioning he remains the only fighter to defeat Hopkins since 1993. You claim Hopkins' age and his difficulty making 160 are the only reasons why Taylor won. You fail to mention that Hopkins knocked out Oscar De La Hoya only a year earlier, and his victories since losing to Taylor twice -- against Tarver and Wright -- are proof that he is still dangerous. Jermain Taylor has never proclaimed himself as God's gift to boxing and certainly doesn't deserve the assaults relentlessly leveled at him by ringside jockeys such as yourself.

Dustin Atkinson
Tallahassee, Fla.

I pointed out that Taylor was good, but the perception of him that he was great was erroneous. I stand by that and believe the results of Saturday's fight back my position. As for the comment about Hopkins-De La Hoya, consider now that Hopkins is fighting at light heavyweight and De La Hoya is at welterweight. I don't know how that win makes a point in Taylor's favor. Hopkins should have beaten a welterweight, and he did.


FIGHTS FOR THE FANS

What do you think the best fights or matches that can be made? I'm not referring to fights with the biggest paydays, necessarily but the most competitive and fan friendly.

Carl Foster
Las Vegas

There are a lot of exceptional fights which could be made. I would love to see a bout for the lightweight title between Juan Diaz and Michael Katsidis, which would be a war. A Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Miguel Cotto bout would be the 2008 version of Sugar Ray Leonard-Roberto Duran. A bout at super lightweight between Ricky Hatton and Junior Witter would have Fight of the Year implications. And the upcoming March 1 rematch between Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez is another. It was the Yahoo! Sports Fight of the Year for 2007.


DITCH PPV

Promoters may need to think about getting away from the pay-per-view format because it is not conducive to winning over new fans. 2008 could be a banner year for boxing, but if every major fight is PPV, a lot of borderline fans won't bother to buy it. The time is now with exciting fighters like Joe Calzaghe, Pavlik, Mayweather and Cotto, to name a few, for new fans to be brought to the sport. Do you think that promoters would consider such a move? Do you think it would help? Here's hoping, because it would be nice to see boxing get up off of the mat and regain its place among America's major sports.

Jonathan A. Kinser
Wayne Center, Ohio

I think boxing is off the mat. The sport is definitely in the midst of a resurgence. I wouldn't expect to see pay-per-view ditched entirely, because it's a vehicle for the fighters and promoters to make a lot of money if a bout is hot. But too many fights that aren't hot are on PPV. Give promoters credit for putting the Hopkins-Calzaghe fight on April 19 on HBO instead of on PPV. But unless network television decides to get back into the boxing business regularly, I wouldn't expect the demise of pay-per-view.