Last night at the Fedex Arena in Memphis, middleweight contenders Kelly Pavlik and Edison Miranda gave the fans in attendance and watching on HBO everything they could ever want in a boxing match.
The two top rated WBC fighters went at it from the opening bell with the towering six foot two inch Pavlik immediately attacking the fearsome Miranda with a pressuring two handed assault that clearly broke whatever pre-fight focus the Colombian came into the ring with.
Pavlik made good on his promise to make Miranda fight backing up and the big slugger from Ohio put "Pantera" on the ropes and painfully exposed his much hyped opponent's lack of defense.
The heavy handed man from Ohio ripped right hands and left hooks directly onto the target along with some random, spearing body shots that were clearly affecting Miranda.
Miranda had some success as well, at one point shaking Pavlik with a bracing lead right hand but the undefeated fighter refused to let Miranda follow up.
In the second round, Miranda stayed more to the middle of the ring and tried to keep his rival at a distance where he could try and better time the onslaught of offense that was flowing from the fists of Pavlik.
This strategy worked better for Miranda but he was still giving ground and being out boxed by Pavlik, who was finding range with startling accuracy. Miranda did however increase his own efforts and Pavlik appeared to respect his rival's power somewhat.
By the third both men looked to be tiring from their Herculean efforts so far and took to trading the type of heavy shots to both head and body that had finished off most of their previous opponents.
But neither fighter would yield and the shared display of chin and heart went on until Miranda was warned by referee Steve Smoger for low blows. When the action resumed it was clearly at a slower pace as both fighters were understandably tired.
In the fourth, Pavlik resumed his assault with lethal intensity and put Miranda on the ropes for a huge amount of punishment. Miranda's eyes had begun to swell at this point, particularly the right, and he was able to bloody Pavlik's nose with the occasional big right but it was another big round for Pavlik.
The fifth frame saw Miranda start faster than he had previously and he finally starts to try and use defense rather than wait for Pavlik to stop hitting him so he can punch.
As Pavlik begins to miss some of his hard shots, Miranda starts to back the big Midwesterner up for the first time and closes the round with three consecutive clubbing rights that catch Pavlik by surprise and shakes him up.
The efforts of the fifth round have had a tiring effect on Miranda and he's back on the ropes where the much fresher Pavlik once again hammers away with both hands.
Miranda fires back and the two way traffic is astounding until Pavlik clips the Colombian on the chin with a big right hand that crumples Miranda and Pavlik adds a crushing left hook as his rival falls to the canvas.
Miranda gets up on unsteady legs and spits out his mouthpiece. Referee Smoger takes a point away as Miranda has bought himself precious time with the tactic.
The extra time didn't help Miranda much as he was soon again on the canvas courtesy of a Pavlik left hook. Miranda got up again but looked to be in very bad shape as he was saved by the bell. His right eye is now a mere slit.
By now Pavlik smells blood in the biggest fight of his career and he patiently stalks Miranda in the seventh. Somehow Miranda avoids getting hit flush by any of Pavlik's efforts as he tries to throw back with shots of his own but the legs are shaky and there's nothing on Miranda's punches.
As Miranda heads to the ropes Pavlik hammers him unmercifully with both hands until the brave South American simply collapses from the torrent and the fight is stopped at 1:54 of the seventh round.
Kelly Pavlik climbs to 31-0 (28) and now becomes Jermain Taylor's mandatory WBC challenger. The Youngstown, Ohio native is now a serious threat to any champion at 160 or even 168 lb.
Edison Miranda falls to 28-2 (24) and will have to go back to the drawing board and add a substantial amount of defense to his repertoire if he is to once again mount a serious challenge at a world title.