Kelly Pavlik will fight on December 19 in Youngstown

Middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik will return to action on December 19 in Youngstown. Pavlik faces Miguel Espino. (Photo via

Middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik, who pulled out of two dates with Paul Williams, will fight on December 19 in Youngstown, Ohio against fringe (at best) contender Miguel Espino.

Dan Rafael has the story:

"We're fighting," said Cameron Dunkin, Pavlik's co-manager. "I have the contract here. The hand is good. He did therapy today and he ran today. The therapy, after three sessions, the hand has gotten much better. [The first] is still not closed all the way, but it's so much better. It's really good news. He just can't wait to fight. He really misses this.

"You can't help but have concern about the hand, but we've still got six weeks and that gives us enough time to be ready. He's been running and lifting weights because he was trying to push through for the fight with Williams on Dec. 5. He asked if Williams could wait until the 19th and it couldn't be done. We understood. Now he has another chance to go the 19th and he's going to go."

This might really surprise you if you've been following this story, what with Pavlik being on death's door and staring down the Grim Reaper and delivering a haymaker to his rotten, bony old jaw and saying, "Not today, demon! Not today!" but then I just decide, "Hey, whatever, at least he's getting back in the ring."

It's good that the staph appears to be clearing up. I'm happy to hear that. And you can't really say they didn't try to move the Williams fight to December 19, because they did. But Williams decided that it wasn't worth risking a third Pavlik pull-out, so he's fighting Sergio Martinez on December 5. All in all, can't blame Williams for that, and can't blame Pavlik for getting back out there.

Or is there someone to blame? Speaking with's Rick Reeno, Dan Goossen has a different take, as do other members of Team Williams:

“We wanted to fight on October 3, and he refused. We wanted to fight on December 5, and he refused. We would have been waiting here until December of 2011 for this fight to happen,” Goossen said.

Williams' trainer George Peterson was similarly not buying the Pavlik story that Espino became their focus thanks to Williams fighting on December 5 without him:

"All of a sudden since Paul signed a contract to fight Martinez, everything gets well. We know the deal. They didn’t do this [Espino deal] in no split second. We set up three training camps for his ass. These training camps are expensive and time consuming. I would hate to see Paul get in the ring with him now after going through all that. We're over him now. We are concentrating on Sergio Martinez."

Team Pavlik says they'd like to fight Williams in 2010, for what it's worth.

Espino (20-2-1, 9 KO) is a 29-year-old whose best win came in March over Alejandro Garcia. Espino floored Garcia twice, and Garcia quit with a hand injury. Other than that, he lost a fight to Daniel Edouard back in 2003 and one to Peter Manfredo Jr. in 2004, and his record is filled largely with no-names otherwise.

He's got basically no shot, as this is a total comeback, shake-the-rust fight for Pavlik, who was last seen in February when he slaughtered Marco Antonio Rubio. You might say that Rubio was tune-up enough, even with the hand injury, but it's easy to forget Rubio was a top ten middleweight at the time. That was a perfectly legit fight.

Hopefully, Pavlik looks good and feels good, and maybe if Williams beats Martinez on the 5th, we finally move forward and get Pavlik-Williams in the spring or something like that.

Top Rank already had a Latin Fury show scheduled for that night, and now will do another split site PPV. Humberto Soto will be facing Jesus Chavez (ugh) in the featured fight from Mexico, and Pavlik-Espino will close the broadcast.

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