Gary Lockett looked nervous walking to the ring in Atlantic City on Saturday night for his double world middleweight title fight against Kelly Pavlik. And about 10 minutes later he was retracing his footsteps with a bruised and cut face.
Lockett failed to get started and was picked off with ease, dropped three times, and rescued from his own bravery by his corner's towel of submission after one minute and 40 seconds of the third round.
Pavlik never wasted a punch, took just two or three and confirmed his status as one of American boxing's best attractions with a crowd of almost 9,000 gathered in admiration, most of whom had made the 900-mile round trip from Pavlik's home town of Youngstown, Ohio.
It was clear from the opening bell that Lockett had seriously underestimated Pavlik's ability, and in the opening three minutes he was picked off with simplicity and increasing power. As the Welshman walked back to his stool at the end of round one, he looked thoroughly beaten and dejected. In round two, Lockett twice retreated after being caught and sunk to his knees in both a sensible and a desperate gesture to survive. Pavlik coldly cut down the ring, and Lockett did extremely well to last until the bell, but his attempt to win both the World Boxing Organisation and World Boxing Council middleweight titles was effectively over.
Before the fight, Lockett had admitted he was a genuine underdog, but in three months of preparation he and his corner man, Enzo Calzaghe, had devised a plan that would help them pull off a shock. At no point on Saturday did Lockett look remotely close to putting into play his tactic, and certainly at no point did he look capable of winning.