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Counter Punch

Quick Jabs: Ward-Pavlik set, network wars, Berto's strategy and more

Kelly Pavlik Despite his struggles, a healthy Kelly Pavlik is still a big threat in the ring. (Harry How/Getty Images)

Some short jabs...

• Andre Ward’s super middleweight title defense against Kelly Pavlik is set for Jan. 26 at the Galen Center on the University of Southern California campus, promoter Dan Goossen announced on Tuesday. In addition to Ward-Pavlik, the card will feature a solid heavyweight fight featuring former world title challenger Chris Arreola and Bermane Stiverne, a heavy-handed heavyweight contender. The two fights will be televised on HBO.

• On Pavlik: Not many are giving him a chance against Ward, and I can understand why. Ward may be the most skilled fighter in boxing. But Pavlik’s power cannot be overlooked. No, Pavlik has not looked as potent in his last four fights, all above his familiar 160-pound weight. But if Pavlik is healthy and in shape, he still has the ability to end a fight with one shot.

• I’m getting a little tired of Tyson Fury. Fury and his team have been critical of the opponents chosen by heavyweights David Price and Wladimir Klitschko. But Fury’s upcoming opponent, Kevin Johnson, is a joke. Johnson’s claim to fame is playing duck and cover against Vitali Klitschko over twelve lopsided rounds in 2009. Before Fury criticizes the competition, he should take a long look at the guys he is facing.

• The network war continues: HBO announced that on Saturday the network would show Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez’s second and third fights on HBO Signature, beginning at 10 pm. Not coincidentally, those fights will air while Showtime is on the air broadcasting Miguel Cotto’s fight against Austin Trout live from Madison Square Garden.

• Andre Berto shouldn’t hang his head after a tough decision defeat to Robert Guerrero. But he should make some changes in his corner. Berto’s decision to begin the fight utilizing the shoulder roll defense -- a style made famous by Floyd Mayweather -- was ridiculous. Berto had rarely, if ever, used the shoulder roll before and clearly didn’t look comfortable in it. At it’s best, the shoulder roll is highly effective: Mayweather has been almost unhittable for years while Adrien Broner utilizes it expertly. But both Mayweather and Broner have worked on it in training for years. It’s not the type of style a fighter can switch to on the fly. It’s like telling a singles hitter in baseball he should start hitting for power; it won’t work. Berto was knocked down twice by Guerrero while using the shoulder roll, which changed the dynamic of the fight. It might be time for Berto to replace longtime trainer Tony Morgan in the corner.

• Former top heavyweight prospect Tor Hamer -- coming off a surprising win in U.K.’s Prizefighter tournament -- will return on the televised undercard of the Dec. 22 NBC show headlined by the rematch between Tomasz Adamek and Steve Cunningham. Hamer (19-1) will face heavy-handed Ukrainian prospect Vyacheslav Glazkov (13-0) in an eight-round fight. Interestingly, Hamer’s promoter, Lou DiBella, turned down an opportunity for Hamer to face Bryant Jennings in the main event of the NBC Sports Network show on Dec. 8. DiBella told me the reason he accepted this fight was simple: He was more comfortable matching Hamer with Glazkov than Jennings.

• No surprise to read that there are people trying to convince Ricky Hatton to keep fighting. Hatton represents a lot of money to a lot of people.

-- Chris Mannix

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