Kelly Pavlik-Paul Williams is off again

According to ESPN.com's Dan Rafael, the December 5 middleweight championship fight between Kelly Pavlik and Paul Williams is off for the second time.

The staph infection in a finger on the left hand of middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik still has not healed, so his Dec. 5 title defense against Paul Williams was called off again on Wednesday.

"It's the same finger giving him problems. They told me he can't make a fist," Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said. "It's getting better and better but it's going a little slow. So, we'll see."

It's the second time the bout -- the centerpiece of HBO's boxing schedule for the end of the year -- has been called off because of the infection.

"This morning we were advised that Kelly Pavlik's recovery of his left hand has not progressed as projected by Dr. Peter Evans at the Cleveland Clinic," Top Rank president Todd duBoef said. "As a result of this Kelly is unable to close his left hand, which prohibits from him from being prepared for a Dec. 5 middleweight championship defense against Paul Williams.

"We at Top Rank are disappointed by this unexpected development in his recovery. Once Pavlik is cleared medically by Dr. Evans we will pursue all avenues with regards to a future bout. We appreciate the understanding of Paul Williams, [his promoter] Goossen Tutor, HBO and Caesars Atlantic City with regards to this unforeseen occurrence."

This is a huge blow to the HBO schedule, and while hindsight is always 20/20 and all that, it really has to make you mad that HBO essentially abandoned a Shane Mosley-Joshua Clottey fight for December in large part due to the rescheduling of this bout.

And whether it's fair or not, Kelly Pavlik's reputation takes yet another hit of its own. Pulling out twice with the same injury either means he's not taking care of it properly -- which even Bob Arum said when they rescheduled from October 3 -- or everyone jumped the gun putting the fight on the December 5 date.

No word yet on whether or not the Joshua Clottey-Carlos Quintana co-feature is also off, but I have my doubts Top Rank and Lou DiBella will really want to try to sell that as the main event of a show in Atlantic City. It would be a perfectly strong Boxing After Dark main event, to be fair, and I actually hope it stays on. If it's called off, Clottey is screwed by not getting to fight Shane Mosley in December, and Quintana is screwed, because he pulled out of an October 24 card in Puerto Rico for this fight.

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