The 25-year-old was contractually obligated to give Taylor a rematch after flooring the former undisputed champion on September 29 to capture the WBC and WBO middleweight titles, but his title was not on the line in Las Vegas.
Pavlik received decisive scores of 117-111 from Dave Moretti and 116-112 from Glenn Trowbridge. Judge Patricia Morse Jarman had the fight closer, but gave Pavlik a 115-113 decision, keeping him unbeaten at 33-0.
“Nothing will be as satisfying as the first (victory),” Pavlik said. “That was for the world title.”
Pavlik, who won with a knockout in the seventh round of the first meeting, used a dominating performance in the latter rounds of this one to emerge victorious.
He struggled in the middle rounds, but was the aggressor late on despite venturing past the ninth round for the first time in his career.
“I put some pressure on at the end of the fight and was able to back him up,” Pavlik continued. “It was the first time I went the distance, and doing so against Jermain Taylor says a lot.”
Pavlik was out to prove the first victory was not a fluke. He was knocked down in the second round of that bout, and some believed his championship-clinching knockout was nothing more than a lucky punch.
“There was so much at stake – my integrity, my pride,” Pavlik said. “He thought it was an accident.”
Taylor did not walk away without illustrating his point. He needed to prove he was not the out-of-shape fighter from the first meeting, and by the end of the night, he showed he is still one of the sport’s elite.
“I thought I had done enough in the earlier rounds,” Taylor said. “But he hit me with some good body shots late. He is strong fighter. I give him all of the credit.”
Lou DiBella, Taylor’s trainer, said: “These guys could fight 10 times and you wouldn’t see a bad fight. You saw Jermain’s stock go up tonight. Even though he didn’t win, questions everyone had after the first fight were answered. He validated himself.”