Pavlik knocks out Lockett to retain title

Fight stopped in 3rd round as Welshman struggles against opponent's superior power

Kelly Pavlik, left, from Youngstown, Ohio lands a punch during third round action against Gary Lockett from Cwmbran, Wales in their middleweight champ...

Kelly Pavlik, left, from Youngstown, Ohio lands a punch during third round action against Gary Lockett from Cwmbran, Wales in their middleweight champ...

In just more than a year, Kelly Pavlik has gone from relative unknown to chairman of the boardwalk and middleweight king.
Pavlik got back on the knockout path Saturday night, stopping unheralded Welshman Gary Lockett with a punishing assault in the third round of his first title defense before a raucous crowd at Boardwalk Hall.
Nearly everyone considered Lockett a mere tuneup for the hard-punching Pavlik, who captured the WBC and WBO versions of the middleweight championship when he stopped previously unbeaten Jermain Taylor in the same building last September.
Lockett did little to prove the contrary.
Coming off a 12-round decision of Taylor in a catch-weight rematch, the first time Pavlik had failed to stop an opponent in 10 fights, the humble hero of Youngstown, Ohio, stunned Lockett in the opening round, dropped him to a knee twice in the second and by the third round Lockett's corner had thrown in the towel.
On a day in which 38-1 long-shot Da' Tara robbed horse racing of a Triple Crown, there would be no such upset in what has long been considered one of boxing's glamour divisions.
Pavlik walked confidently into Boardwalk Hall to the same kind of thunderous reception that retired brawler Arturo Gatti once enjoyed, with dozens of fans holding up homemade signs touting "our champion" and "the best in boxing."
He didn't disappoint, using his left jab to close the distance from the opening bell, drawing Lockett inside. He kept following with big right hands, backing the smaller Welshman into a corner midway through the opening round.
The second round was much the same, Lockett twice going down to catch his breath from the constant push by Pavlik. The crowd booed lustily the second time, and Lockett got up with about five seconds to go in the round.
He wouldn't make it much further.
Lockett went down again early in the third round, and even though he struggled to his feet along the ropes, he clearly had enough. The referee called the fight 1:40 into the round.
With "Lift Our Spirits" inked across his shoulders, Pavlik not only has become the inspiration of hardworking folks in Youngstown and the rest of the rust belt, but of thousands of fight fans who see in him a chance to return boxing to a prominent place in sports.
There's certainly an opening at the top of the bill. Welterweight titleholder Floyd Mayweather Jr., considered by many the pound-for-pound king, stunned everybody by announcing his retirement a day earlier. And Oscar De La Hoya, the most popular fighter of his era, plans to fight just twice more this year before calling it quits.
Even Joe Calzaghe, another Welshman considered the best in two divisions and a potential fall opponent for Pavlik, plans to retire after this year.

Updated : 2021-04-14 14:54 GMT+08:00