BoxingWatchers.com 2007 Fighter of the Year: Kelly Pavlik

In a year that turned out to be good for a lot of people associated with the sport of boxing, it was especially sweet for the pride of Youngstown, Ohio, Kelly Pavlik.

Three trips to the ring, three KO victories. It doesn't get much better than that, especially when his second fight (versus Edison Miranda) was an action-packed fight of the year candidate. Except maybe for his third fight, which was even better and saw him get up off the canvas to take the middleweight crown from Jermain Taylor - who just so happened to be undefeated and survived three total fights against Bernard Hopkins and Winky Wright without a loss.

That's impressive stuff any way you look at it. Even better, the success doesn't seem to have gone to his head. He still comes across as thoughtful and likable, with a work ethic that is a true reflection of his hometown. So while Ricky Hatton's followers take the crown for pure fanaticism,
Pavlik's growing throng of fans may be just as loyal. Just ask anyone who saw the ridiculous number of Team Pavlik shirts walking around Atlantic City the day of the Taylor fight.

Except for an appropriate nickname (The Ghost makes him sound like he should be a defensive wizard), Pavlik has everything you like to see in a champion: skill, power, heart and a down-to-earth personality. For all of those qualities and his success in the ring, he's BoxingWatchers.com's 2007 Fighter of the Year.

Honorable Mention: From a financial standpoint, Floyd Mayweather Jr. had 2007 locked down. The owner of the most natural talent in the sport handled his business in his mega-fight with Oscar De La Hoya, then proved he could serve as the marquee name and still do big business when he KO'ed Hatton.

Mayweather has always been a stellar boxer, but only recently has he put thw whole package together. He's come a long way from whining about his lack of fame, and he's learned how to sell himself and his fights. He can turn on the charm when necessary or fall back into the villain role he seems to relish.

Sure we'd love to see him challenge himself more, but he doesn't have to do that thanks to his newfound understanding of what really drives the big-time fight game. Here's a hint: it's the same word as his new nickname.

Fans who like their fighters to have more warrior in them than showman got to witness the continuing rise of Miguel Cotto. The man in the top spot in this site's power rankings had almost as nice a year as Pavlik, knocking out Oktay Urkal and Zab Judah and earning a tight but unanimous decision over Shane Mosley.

Though always known to have power and toughness, critics seemed to doubt his overall skill level before this year. The Mosley fight dismissed most of those questions, bringing out the full range of Cotto's impressive skills.

Undefeated and seemingly in his prime, Cotto doesn't have a big fight lined up yet for 2008. When it does come, he'll be riding a wave of momentum from his excellent year in 2007.

No comments: