Petra Kirsch – Gelsenkirchen
Former middleweight king Kelly Pavlik returns to the ring on May 7 following a one year absence due to a combination of alcohol abuse and injury setbacks, and will campaign in the super middleweight division. His promoter, Bob Arum, dismissed talk of whom ‘The Ghost’ will chase following the Alfonso Lopez bout in two weeks as he insists the world champions will clamour to fight Pavlik as he is a guaranteed ticket seller.
“Kelly is ready [for a world title shot] but the guy he’s fighting on May 7 is no pushover,” Arum explained to the press at an international media conference call ahead of Pavlik’s bout against Lopez (21-0-0, 16ko). The two boxers headline the undercard that supports the anticipated summer showdown between popular pay-per-view sensation Manny Pacquiao and former three-weight world champion Shane Mosley.
“He [Lopez] has a lot of knockouts, he’s a Texas kid and that’s a tough chore,” noted the veteran American promoter. “We’ll see how he does in that fight and then we’ll talk it over with the team and see who comes next. The super middleweight division is rich with talent and Kelly fits right in with all of them.
“There are a lot of great fighters out there [at 168lbs] but with the exception of [Lucian] Bute in Canada, they’re not particularly big attractions in terms of ticket sales. In order for them to make a big ticket fight they have to have Kelly Pavlik. It’s not a question of who Kelly is going after, it’s a question of who the team wants Kelly to fight. These fighters in order to have a big fight, have to fight Kelly Pavlik.”
Pavlik (36-2-0, 32ko) has rarely fought above the middleweight limit of 160lbs. He dueled with Bernard Hopkins in a non-title fight in 2008 at a catchweight of 170lbs, yet he succumbed to a one-sided decision loss. However, he is confident that he will be a success in the super middleweight (168lbs) division, claiming his power has improved since he campaigned at middleweight.
“I see [the power] being the same,” Pavlik said. “Actually, I see it being even better. It’s not like I’m moving up to 168lbs and adding weight on. I still have to lose a considerable amount of weight to make 168lbs. When you walk around at 195lbs that’s still pretty heavy for a super middleweight or light heavyweight. I don’t see the strength being an issue or power-punching. I think our strength and everything is going to be great at that weight class. It will be the same, if not better.”
Pavlik’s absence from boxing due to a spell at a rehabilitation centre because of alcohol abuse received a large amount of column inches. The honest 29-year-old offered no excuses: “It’s not that you have to be unhappy… I got caught up in the partying part. Boxing has been a big part of my life since I was nine; alcohol hasn’t been,” he reasoned, suggesting he will not suffer from a relapse.