For those reasons and several more, Mayweather would be a worthy choice for SI.com's 2007 Fighter of the Year. But he's not. That honor belongs to
Let the protesting begin.
Maybe it's because I have been saturated with Mayweather over the last six months. Watch Floyd dance. Hear Floyd talk. Hear Floyd talk about dancing. Hear Floyd dancing while talking. Or maybe it's because I view De La Hoya as more mercenary than fighter and
Mayweather is a terrific showman and standard bearer for a sagging sport. Boxing could could do much worse. But for me, this honor belongs to an old school pugilist, someone who stares across the ring at his opponent and says, "I'll swing at you, you swing at me, and let's see what happens."
Pavlik was barely on the boxing radar at this time last year, when he was gearing up for a middleweight showdown against
Four months later he challenged undefeated
Finally, on the biggest stage of his career and for the most distinguished titles he had ever fought for, Pavlik challenged another undefeated fighter,
Three fights in 2007. Three knockouts. Can it get any better than that?
Pavlik is a throwback, a fighter whose only goal when he gets into the ring is to make the three judges sitting ringside irrelevant. He hates decisions, which hasn't been an issue since he hasn't had one in more than three years. He steps into the ring looking for a war, knowing full well that, like in any battle, he is one well placed shot away from losing.
He fights for pride. He fights for his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio, the same place lightweight legend
Maybe Pavlik will fall in love with his titles in 2008. Maybe after his mandated rematch with Taylor next month (where no titles will be at stake), Pavlik will line up a series of cupcakes to defend his belts against. I certainly hope not.
As I stood in Pavlik's dressing room following his win over Taylor, I gave him that opening. As he stood there struggling to breathe as a trainer shoved Q-Tips up his nose to stop the bleeding, I asked him if after such a tough fight he might be looking for something easier.
He said no.
"I want the belts," said Pavlik. "And I want to fight the best."
Getting the belts means calling out WBA middleweight champion
Pavlik is on the verge of greatness, of becoming a leader in a sport desperately lacking them. For that, he deserves the honor.