Words: Robert Delgado – Los Angeles
Photos: Stacey Verbeek – Maple Avenue Boxing Gym, Dallas
Super middleweight contender Kelly Pavlik, 30, is on the cusp of career rejuvenation having successfully rehabilitated his personal life and takes on Scott Sigmon, 25, at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas later tonight, Friday, June 8. Both Pavlik and Sigmon scaled in at 167lbs at the weigh-in yesterday, June 7 and, Kelly, if successful, could have a choice of bigger fights…
Having relocated from Youngstown, Ohio to Oxnard, California, Pavlik (38-2-0, 33ko) is taking instruction from Robert Garcia, developing his left hook to the body and enjoying gym-life with Robert Garcia Boxing Academy stable-mate Brandon Rios. The 30-year-old is about to engage in his second fight of the year – and his comeback – having already dispatched of Aaron Jaco in two rounds in March. Sigmon (22-3-0, 12ko), though, is regarded to provide as much competition as Jaco, as Pavlik is matched with journeyman-level opposition that will restore his confidence as he aims to land a fight of significance later in the year, or in 2013 against Adonis Stevenson, Lucian Bute or Carl Froch.
Denzil Stone – Atlantic City
Kelly Pavlik‘s withdrawal from his August 8 bout against Darryl Cunningham at the Covelli Center in Youngstown, Ohio, and subsequent snub over a potential world title challenge against IBF super middleweight world champion Lucian Bute has disappointed his promoters, Top Rank, and left question marks over whether his heart remains in the sport of boxing.
“The fight is off and the Bute fight is not going to happen,” Pavlik, once a highly-touted unified champion, confirmed to WFMJ-TV before claiming that he was pulling-out of the bouts for business reasons: “I’m not going to fight a southpaw for peanuts.”
Pavlik was propelled into the international boxing limelight when, in 2007, he knocked Jermain Taylor out in seven rounds to become the WBO and WBC middleweight champion of the world. After the fight, his knockout record remained incredible as he had stopped 29 of his 32 opponents; only three had gone the distance with the American, but all those had lost.
In the next four years, Pavlik (37-2-0, 32ko) would continue to fight but his career would go on to contain numerous skidmarks due to a brace of high profile defeats – to Bernard Hopkins and Sergio Martinez, a staph injection and a spell in a rehabilitation centre. Following a one year hiatus after his loss to Martinez, Pavlik returned to the ring against Alfonso Lopez, recorded a majority decision win and had a contest lined up against Cunningham, in order to get southpaw practice in for a world title shot against dangerous leftie Lucian Bute.
Indeed, just last week, Pavlik informed reporters of his excitement regarding his duel with Darryl this weekend and said: “I’m going to put on a great show.” He also spoke of Bute: “There are some things questionable about him. I think he has pretty good boxing ability, too. I don’t think he’s as talented overall as Martinez as far as movement and slickness. It’s going to be a different Kelly Pavlik. I’m hungry. I want the title back.”
If it were an isolated incident then the benefit of the doubt should always be granted, however, Pavlik is now attracting a reputation as a bit of a flaker as in the past two years he has withdrawn from five contests. The latest, over Cunningham, has “disappointed” his representatives who labelled his behaviour “erratic”. Top Rank founder Bob Arum even said Pavlik’s career now holds an element of ambiguity over it.
“Top Rank is very disappointed at Kelly’s sudden decision to discontinue the rebuilding of his boxing career,” Top Rank president Todd DuBoef said. “Kelly’s team specifically outlined a strategy for Kelly to return to the ring in an effective fashion. We set them on a course, which began [in] May with Kelly’s fight against Lopez and was to continue against Cunningham. Kelly has derailed this plan.
“Let me make it crystal clear – Saturday’s fight was not part of a two-fight deal [that included Bute],” DuBoef was keen to stress. “We had discussed the terms of a Bute fight, but that had no bearing on this. Is it a matter of, is Kelly going to fight regularly? Does he want to get back on track and knock that rust off? Apparently not.”
Pavlik’s manager, Cameron Dunkin, informed DuBoef via telephone of the fighter’s desire to pull out. DuBoef said in response that it was “unprofessional”. DuBoef continued by stating that he hopes Pavlik has not relapsed back to alcohol abuse: “My first thought was I hope his health is not at risk. We operate gingerly with Kelly as it relates to his demons from the past. We take direction from his team but the behavior here is somewhat erratic and unprofessional.
“I’m very sympathetic to [Showtime, who were due to broadcast the fight], the fans, my staff, the [Covelli Center] and the people in Youngstown who were looking forward to this and working on the event. Unfortunately, it did not come about. There is some soul searching to do for Kelly.”
Top Rank founder, Arum, added to Boxing Scene: “The way I read it is that he doesn’t want to fight anymore. It seems to me that he has second thoughts about fighting. I’m really troubled by this. It’s got nothing to do with him fighting or not fighting. I’m past that. I’m really troubled by what’s happening with him as a person.”
Cunningham (23-2-0, 10ko), meanwhile, does not believe the catalyst for Pavlik’s change of heart is not personal, as Arum and DuBoef suggest, but because he realised he was going to get knocked out: “I’m hurt [and] I’m disappointed. Kelly knew he was going to sleep. He thought it was a tune-up. People don’t know about The People’s Choice but I was going to knock him out.”
Denzil Stone – Atlantic City
It has been almost two years since Kelly Pavlik‘s hometown fans have seen the Youngstown, Ohio star box in his own backyard but on August 6 the wanderer returns as the 29-year-old takes on Detroit southpaw Darryl Cunningham at the Covelli Center in a further settling-in bout at super middleweight. Following the fight, Pavlik intends on securing shots at the division’s biggest names, including Carl Froch and Lucian Bute.
Pavlik laboured to his last victory, a majority decision over Alfonso Lopez at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas in May, on the undercard to Manny Pacquiao’s points triumph over Shane Mosley. In Cunningham (23-2-0, 10ko), Pavlik is taking on a distance fighter as he has never been knocked out and neither does he possess knockout power, however, he has only once had a ten round bout.
During a recent conference call, Pavlik (37-2-0, 32ko) reiterated his added strength at the super middleweight limit of 168lbs, after having competed as a middleweight – carrying 160lbs – prior to his comeback: “I really do [feel stronger at super middleweight]. Making 160 was just impossible anymore,” said The Ghost. “I’m never going to be able to see 160 again.
“In this new class we’re not killing ourselves to make weight. Now, as we’re getting ready, we can prepare more on boxing and more on the opponent and worry about that stuff rather than how we’re going to lose weight. I’m really happy with this weight class.”
On Cunningham’s strengths, Pavlik noted: “If you give him momentum or you let him come forward, he likes to throw a lot of punches, big shots. If you put pressure on him, he likes to go backwards – he goes straight backwards. We’ve seen a lot of that. I think our game plan for this fight is to fight like we always had earlier on. Put the pressure on him and not come straight, not head first but side to side angles, keep the punches moving and land some of the big shots.”
Following his intended victory over Cunningham, Pavlik has an ambition of landing a first world title shot at super middleweight and believes the current WBC champion Carl Froch and IBC titlist Lucian Bute would, stylistically, represent good match-ups.
“[Bute is] the big name and we want to fight big names. Whether it’s Bute, Froch, whatever the big name is. Big fights are key for me. I don’t want to finish my career off fighting meaningless fights. I want to go in there and get a chance to get the title back and defend it a couple of times.
“I think [Bute's] a very good fighter. Obviously he is. There are some things questionable about him,” mused the American. “I think he’s probably one of the best body punchers in the sport today by far, but I think he has pretty good boxing ability too.
“I don’t think he’s as talented overall as [Sergio] Martinez as far as movement and slickness. He’s got the whole package but I think everyone will see when I go into that fight that it’s going to be a different Kelly Pavlik. I’m hungry. I want the title back.”
Denzil Stone – Atlantic City
Before taking on a mainstream super middleweight contender, Kelly Pavlik may be matched with former British titlist James DeGale, according to manager Cameron Dunkin, who has engaged in talks with DeGale’s promoter Frank Warren. DeGale recently lost his British belt to Commonwealth champion George Groves via split decision.
Pavlik’s last major fight was a unanimous decision loss to Sergio Martinez, competed in the middleweight division. The American, from Youngstown, Ohio then embarked on an enforced hiatus from the ring as he spent a period in a rehabilitation centre for alcohol abuse.
The 29-year-old returned to the ring earlier this year, defeating Alfonso Lopez via majority decision. Dunkin will match Pavlik (37-2-0, 32ko) with one further tune-up fight before pitting him against one of the elite campaigners at 168lbs.
Dunkin said, as reported by World Boxing News: “With Kelly, we want to get him back into the ring again to knock some more of that ring rust off. I want to get him into the ring in August. But he has to be paid, and you don’t pay a Kelly Pavlik $20,000.
“Do you jump right into a major, major fight so that he can get paid, or do you go after another warmup fight before that. That second situation is what I would like, it’s what [Top Rank matchmaker] Bruce Trampler would like, and that’s what the Pavlik camp would like.”
Regarding possible opponents for Pavlik, Dunkin confirmed: “Everybody’s contacted us. Kessler’s people, Bute’s people, James DeGale with Frank Warren. We’ve talked about DeGale with Frank Warren. So there is a lot of stuff going on out there with Kelly.”
J.G Barrington – New York
Manny Pacquiao may have headlined the Las Vegas event on Saturday, May 7 but it was Jorge Arce who stole the show with a typically Mexican come-forward, never-say-die and take-your-title in the process performance. Elsewhere, in London, Mike Perez won the eight-man Prizefighter competition and Daniel Geale defeated Sebastian Sylvester in Germany.
Notes – For final scorecard and report click here. For semifinal scorecards and reports click here. For quarterfinal scorecard and report click here. (Video embedded above credit – Youtube, Skunk2011x)
Notes – The Real Deal Holyfield struck late against Nielsen in Denmark having already felled his rotund opponent in the third round. For full video of two of the heavyweight division’s eldest statesmen click here.
Super Middleweight: Aaron Pryor Jr – MD – Librado Andrade [96-94, 96-94, 95-95]
Notes – In a bout that should be swiftly forgotten, Pryor Jr won a majority decision verdict against Andrade despite being out-punched. There was too much clinching, too much spoiling and not enough boxing. The crowd booed.
Super Middleweight: Kelly Pavlik – MD – Alfonso Lopez [99-91, 98-92, 95-95]
Notes – How the third judge viewed it 95-95 is beyond me as Pavlik surely did enough for the victory, however, the American’s comeback, at the new weight of 168lbs was far from impressive. Pavlik occasionally landed heavy leather on Lopez but failed to find proper rhythm. For scorecard and fight report click here.
IBF World Middleweight title: Daniel Geale – SD – Sebastian Sylvester [118-110, 118-112, 110-118]
Notes – Geale showed superior boxing ability to out-punch long-reigning champion Sylvester in the champion’s own backyard. To take a world titlist’s belt you have to want it – and the Australian certainly showed that. It should have been a unanimous decision for Geale, but questionable judging split the verdict. For full video and scorecard click here.
WBO World Welterweight: Manny Pacquiao – UD – Shane Mosley [120-107, 120-108, 119-108]
Notes – Pacquiao did his best but ultimately failed to look as exciting as he has done in the past years as Mosley provided an awkward target. Mosley was down in the third and Manny was pushed over in the tenth although it was incorrectly deemed a knockdown by referee Kenny Bayless. Pacquiao lamented after the fight that Mosley was ‘running’. On The Beak‘s Denzil Stone claimed the main event was a disappointing affair in his report and scorecard, both here.
Notes – Nahr never looked like he fancied it against tough Alvarado and, sure enough, the African boxer who fights out of New York refused to answer the call for the fourth round and sat dejected on his stool. For scorecard and fight report click here.
Notes – Arce produced the performance of the night against previous champion Vazquez Jr. Interim titles aside, Arce became the sixth Mexican to win full world titles in three different weight classes. The battling 31-year-old showed great strength and stamina and his pressure eventually took it’s toll on Vazquez Jr whose corner threw everything they could into the ring in order to gain the referee’s attention to stop the fight. For scorecard and fight report click here.
WBA World Bantamweight title: Koki Kameda – 11th Rd RTD – Daniel Diaz
Notes – Kameda ultimately had too much for challenger Diaz who quit on his tool after the 11th round. Kameda was dominant in the opening stanzas with Diaz turning the tables in the middle stages, however, Kameda dropped Diaz in the eighth, effectively halting any momentum accrued by the Nicaraguan. It was Kameda’s first defence of his alphabet title.
Robert Delgado – Los Angeles
Kelly Pavlik received a majority decision verdict for his ten round trumping over erstwhile undefeated Alfonso Lopez at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on the Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley undercard on Saturday, May 7. Pavlik landed a number of power shots yet lacked any real fluidity nor style. A campaign at 168lbs could prove tough for the American unless he ups his performances from here.
Judges Verdict – 99-91, 98-92, 95-95, majority decision in favour of Pavlik.
Round By Round Summary
Round One: Pavlik rooted his boots to the centre of the ring while Lopez shuffled around him. Pavlik landed a strong left hook and countered well in the second minute. Pavlik was warned due to punching to the back of the head in the final minute. Lopez finished the round strongly and the two enjoyed a swift exchange prior to the chime of the closing bell.
Round Two: Pavlik’s jab looked strong in the second. And he also punched well to the body. Lopez, like he did in the first, flurried well at the end of the round. Closer round but Pavlik still edged it.
Round Three: The third round began with Pavlik displaying his heavy hands. Pavlik’s preferred tactic did indeed appear to be focussed on strength and power. Lopez, in a similar fashion to the first, used lateral movement – making use of the full edges of the ring. The final minute of the round was fought on the inside, often in a clinch. Pavlik would go for the body when they were tied while Lopez worked the hook.
Round Four: There was an accidental headbutt at the start of the round, with no apparent resultant cuts. Lopez was more active in the fourth and, when he let his fists go, he showed good hand-speed. Pavlik lacked flow. Good round from Lopez.
Round Five: Pavlik was breathing out his mouth quite heavily during the fifth and, considering how long he had been out of the ring, stamina – even for a bout scheduled for ten rounds – could prove an issue. The straight right, a weapon Pavlik was known for having as a middleweight, thrust into Lopez’s kisser midway through the round. Lopez also worked into a straight left with 45 seconds left on the clock. Pavlik landed good hooks… both from the right and left fist.
Round Six: Lopez again started the round well, like he had in the fourth, but his combinations seemed more pitter-patter than Pavlik’s power shots. Pavlik staggered Lopez for the first time in the fight with a couple minutes left. Lopez, as if to sufficiently recover, clinched. When Lopez backed into the red corner, Pavlik welcomed him back with a stiff shot to the body.
Round Seven: Pavlik’s cornermen instructed their ward to just focus on ‘letting your fists go’ rather than seeking the kayo. Midway through the round Lopez landed a good one-two on Pavlik’s face and a cut was opened up. Pavlik was warned for an illegal shot in the seventh – a low blow with his left – but no point was deducted as punishment. Lopez looked good only in bursts, yet the bursts lacked quality.
Round Eight: The eighth was a sloppy round. Lopez seemed to have tired somewhat compared to how he was moving in the previous rounds. When Pavlik returned to his corner, his cutman worked the cut and also various other minor facial damage.
Round Nine: Pavlik’s head movement at the start of the ninth was non-existent. Lopez’s flurries dotted around Pavlik’s face and he failed to either duck or block. The punches lacked quality, but will still have been noted by the judges.
Round Ten: Any suggestions that Lopez was fatigued earlier were quelled with a run of ten scores and a dominant and relentless combination for the opening minute in the final round. Pavlik landed one big shot of note but Lopez brought the greater volume of work. Pavlik’s power punch, though, had either deterred Lopez from throwing like he had been, or had sapped the final remnants of energy out of him. Two solid rights in the concluding stanza weakened Lopez’s legs.
With the victory, Pavlik rose to 37-2-0, 32ko while Lopez dropped to 21-1-0 with 16 knockouts within that run.
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.