Franchise Thoughts on... Kelly Pavlik vs. Sergio Martinez in A.C. on April 17

It's been so long since Kelly Pavlik has had a tough defense of his middleweight titles that I had to look up when the last one took place. Then I remembered: he's never had one.

He won the titles from Jermain Taylor in September 2007. Pavlik won the rematch a few months later, but that wasn't a defense because it was contested a few pounds above the middleweight limit.

Kelly's loss to Bernard Hopkins was well above 160. He's actually only defended the belts against Gary Lockett, Marco Antonio Rubio and Miguel Espino. Of that group, only Rubio counts as a credible challenger, and that's being somewhat generous.

But The Ghost may finally have to put in a tough night's work in a few months. That's because a bout with Sergio Martinez is all but signed, set for Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall on April 17.

If it's possible to win even when losing, Martinez has done it. The Argentina-born, Spain-dwelling lefty gave Paul Williams all he could handle before losing a decision last December that numerous fans thought he won (though I did not).

Martinez and Pavlik should make for a great contrast in styles: speed versus power, elusiveness versus straightforward aggression and orthodox versus southpaw. Kelly always draws well in A.C., and Sergio made some new fans there with his last performance, so the atmosphere should be electric.

One really interesting part of Dan Rafael's report is that Lou DiBella asked for some assurances from HBO that Martinez would still get to fight (in Montreal, where Lucian Bute and Edison Miranda will do battle as part of HBO's split-site doubleheader) if Pavlik pulled out for health reasons. It's not often you think of boxers as being injury prone the way you do some stick-and-ball athletes, but Kelly fits the bill if anyone does.

Now here's the crappy part for boxing fans: April 17 already has a pretty big card on Showtime with Carl Froch-Mikkel Kessler and Andre Ward-Allan Green in the next phase of the Super Six World Boxing Classic.

I get that HBO and Showtime are in competition. Really, I do. But boxing isn't popular enough at the moment to be able to handle constant counter-programming by the two networks.

The same thing is happening on March 6. I really wish they'd knock it off.

Let's do some...


Gerson Guerrero is out and Manuel Vargas is in as an opponent for Nonito Donaire this Saturday. My man Tim Starks of The Queensberry Rules says it's "not even a huge drop off," but he meant it more in an anti-Guerrero way than a pro-Vargas way. I like Donaire, but I'm not going to be really pumped about anyone he fights not named Vic Darchinyan...

Former MMA champ Andrei Arlovski hasn't given up on his plans to embark on a boxing career. He's going to take on Fres Oquendo in a four-round exhibition on Feb. 27, then take two more MMA bouts before hopefully making his pro debut later in 2010. I'm not sure I've got high hopes for him as a boxer after seeing what Brett Rogers did to him...

Would anyone be up for Timothy Bradley-Edwin Valero on June 5 (on Showtime)? Or more precisely, would anyone NOT be up for Bradley-Valero? It's just talk at this point, but we can always cross our fingers and hope. Also, HBO doesn't have anything scheduled for that weekend, so there's that.

Posted by The Franchise

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