By Mark Vester
As expected, Kelly Pavlik (32-0, 29KOs) first defense of the WBC/WBO middleweight titles will come against undefeated "Irish" John Duddy (23-0, 17KOs). The first order of business is the Feb. 16 rematch with Jermain Taylor, taking place at a catch-weight of 166-pounds. Duddy has a tune-up bout scheduled on the Feb. 23 undercard to Wladimir Klitschko and Sultan Ibragimov heavyweight unification in New York.
Promoter Bob Arum informed Dan Rafael that Pavlik-Duddy would take place at New York's Madison Square Garden on June 7, the day before New York's Puerto Rican Day parade. For the last few years, WBA welterweight champ Miguel Cotto has fought in that position, but with an April 12 date against Alfonso Gomez and a July pay-per-view in the wings with Antonio Margarito, making his usual June appearance is physically impossible.
"I've met with the Duddy people. We had a nice meeting. He'll be Pavlik's next opponent. They want the fight," Arum said.
As known in the boxing industry, Duddy is major ticket seller on the East Coast. To give back to the Puerto Rican fans who usually see Cotto fight in that spot, Arum plans to showcase Puerto Rican fighters Ivan Calderon and Juan Manuel Lopez.
There is also a chance that IBF middleweight champion Arthur Abraham (25-0, 20KOs) will appear on the undercard. Arum has been in talks with Abraham's promoter, Sauerland Event, about appearing on the undercard with unbeaten Giovanni Lorenzo (26-0, 18KOs) as the opponent. Following Duddy, the year may end off with Pavlik facing Abraham in a middleweight unification bout.
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