Going into Saturday night’s rematch with Jermain Taylor, Youngstown’s Kelly Pavlik had yet to win over the entirety of the boxing world. Few questioned his heart, his hands or his punching power. But many insiders wanted to see Pavlik box at the highest levels as opposed to simply beating an opponent into submission.
Consider Pavlik-Taylor II a resounding answer to any questions the experts may have had.
Pavlik scored a unanimous decision against Taylor after 12 hard fought rounds Saturday night in Las Vegas. In doing so, he answered not only questions about his boxing ability and tactical approach to a fight, but he also quieted pre-fight rumors about his training regimen and his discipline.
Pavlik never landed the knockout shot that felled Taylor in their first fight. Rather, Pavlik was selectively aggressive and saved some of his biggest punches for the late rounds where championships are won. ‘The Ghost’ dominated the 11th and 12th rounds to dispatch Taylor for the second time in the last 6 months and to firmly establish himself as the best the middleweight division has to offer.
Where was Pacman Jones anyway?
As for the game itself? Blecch. It’s tough to watch. In fact, it reminds one of a bad YMCA pickup game albeit with taller and more athletic players throwing balls over the court and hoisting up shots as soon as they cross mid court. Why bother with an entry pass when one can attempt a no-look, behind the back bounce pass into the third row of seats?
I understand the game is to entertain the fans and I do give the NBA credit for generally surpassing the NFL and MLB in that regard, but the game itself is akin to watching two PlayStation junkies battling in an NBA Live match. Each of whom is pimping their newest line of basketball shoe.
The game did settle down in the second half into something that closely resembled basketball. The Western Conference came from way back to make a game of it and actually take a lead. But the Eastern Conference has some of the game’s great finishers and closers. James, Dwayne Wade and Ray Allen all hit big hoops for the East to give the Eastern Conference a 134-128 victory. James finished with 27 points, 9 assists and 8 rebounds (sound familiar?), the final two on a driving dunk over Dirk Nowitzki with the game on the line to earn the game’s MVP award. Allen scored 14 of his 28 points over the last 3:30 of the game to lead the East.
The West got 18 points from Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Brandon Roy as well as 16 points and 14 assists from the host city’s favorite son Chris Paul.
Gibson was named to the sophomore squad in the All-Star weekend’s T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam that took place on Friday night in New Orleans. And Gibson acquitted himself pretty well.
The long-range specialist from Texas hit a game-record 11 three-pointers in leading the sophomores over the rookies 136-109. Gibson was 11-20 from the field for 33 points and a game MVP honor. All twenty of Gibson’s shots came from behind the arc. And all 11 bull’s-eyes were warmly cheered by James who was in attendance to cheer on his teammate and take part in the festivities.
Gibson came back on Saturday night and locked in from long distance again. He advanced to the finals of the Foot Locker Three Point Shootout before being bested by defending champion Jason Kapono.
Still, after watching Brown’s QB Derek Anderson wet himself last weekend in the NFL Pro Bowl, it was nice to see a couple of Cleveland athletes excel on a national all-star stage.
The Indians open the season at home against the Chicago White Sox 6 weeks from Monday and preparations for that Opener have officially begun in Winter Haven. The team has gathered, the physicals are about wrapped up and the balls are being rolled out onto the field. You know it’s been a long and difficult winter when you’re looking forward to pitchers fielding practice. But October left us all feeling a bit unsatisfied and it’s time to get the thoughts of the Indians blowing a 3-1 series lead against the Red Sox out of our minds by getting caught up in the minutiae of spring training routines.
There will be plenty of time down the road to discuss C.C Sabathia’s contract status, Travis Hafner’s prospects of rebounding from a disappointing 2007 and the likelihood of Joe Borowski successfully walking that tightrope known as the 9th inning once more in 2008.