Taylor jumps at opportunity for another shot at Pavlik
It's rematch time.
Jermain Taylor, who lost the middleweight championship when Kelly Pavlik knocked him out in the seventh round of their Sept. 29 fight, has exercised his contractual option for an immediate rematch, Taylor promoter Lou DiBella said Tuesday.
DiBella said he was notified of Taylor's decision by adviser Al Haymon on Monday afternoon. DiBella then notified Bob Arum, Pavlik's promoter. Taylor had until Oct. 29 to make a decision.
The rematch probably will happen in mid-to-late February, with the 16th the frontrunner as the date, but it will depend on HBO's schedule. Contractually, the rematch must take place within 150 days of the first fight.
"We notified [Top Rank] and they were fine with it," DiBella said. "It was like, 'Let's get it on, let's work it all out, let's do the details.' "
HBO already has two major fights in the works for the month, a Feb. 2 welterweight unification match between Paul Williams and Kermit Cintron and a probable Feb. 23 heavyweight title defense by Wladimir Klitschko.
The site for the rematch also has not been determined, nor has it been decided if it will be televised on HBO or HBO PPV, DiBella said. Atlantic City, N.J., site of the first bout, is a possible venue. The September bout drew a wild crowd of 10,127 to Boardwalk Hall; thousands made the 6½-hour drive from Youngstown, Ohio, Pavlik's hometown, to see what turned out to be a candidate for fight of the year.
One detail that was ironed out when the rematch clause was written was that the fight will be a non-title bout unless the sides agree to tweak the terms. The rematch clause calls for the fight to take place at a maximum weight of 166 pounds, which is six more than the middleweight limit.
"It will be at 166," DiBella said. "That's what both sides seem to acknowledge right now."
DiBella said he wasn't surprised that Taylor opted for the rematch right away instead of a scenario that had been discussed in which both fighters would take interim bouts before forging the rematch.
"Jermain told me four times he wanted the rematch right after the fight," DiBella said. "He told me again that he wanted it when I talked to him a week later. So it's not really a surprise to me. Jermain Taylor is someone who has never run from a challenge."
Pavlik's camp had been exploring an optional fight for Jan. 26 against popular Irishman John Duddy. Cameron Dunkin, Pavlik's manager, said their team is fine with the Taylor rematch instead.
"We're ready to fight Jermain again," Dunkin said Tuesday. "Kelly said from the beginning that he was glad to have the rematch if that's what Taylor wanted to do. He'll give Jermain the opportunity like Jermain gave him the opportunity. That's fine. Kelly told me, 'I'm a fighter. I'm fine either way.' "
Dunkin said when he called Pavlik, his father and co-manager Mike Pavlik, and trainer Jack Loew to tell them about Taylor's decision, they were excited.
"I told them they had exercised the rematch and that Kelly would be fighting Jermain Taylor next," Dunkin said. "He said, 'Great.' We talked about the weight for a minute. I told him I would let him know the particulars about the rest when I found out. I said, 'Are you happy?' He said, 'Absolutely.' Kelly will be even better at the higher weight."
One of the major questions surrounding the rematch will be the state of Taylor's corner. His four-fight pairing with Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward has not gone well and there has been a lot of talk about Taylor making a change. With Steward, Taylor is 2-1-1 -- a controversial draw with Winky Wright, unimpressive decision wins against junior middleweights Kassim Ouma and Cory Spinks, and the knockout loss to Pavlik.
"It's not a decision I make and I am not involved in," DiBella said of the possibility of a change in the corner. "Right now, I have not been told one way or the other what is going on with that."
DiBella said he supports Taylor's decision to take the rematch right away.
"I think Jermain can win," DiBella said. "I think he wants it, he's entitled to it and he can win. It's a fine decision. He's committed to it. It's a hell of a fight and the outcome is in doubt. Their first fight justifies a rematch."
Their first fight indeed was a thriller. Taylor (29-1-1, 17 KOs) scored a second-round knockdown and was on the verge of a stoppage, but Pavlik (32-0, 29 KOs) survived the round. They went toe to toe for much of the fight.
Pavlik, 25, was trailing on all three scorecards in the seventh round when he caught Taylor, 29, of Little Rock, Ark., with several hard punches, including a pair of uppercuts, that dumped Taylor into a heap on the mat and led referee Steve Smoger to immediately call the fight.
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com.