It's not often that Las Vegas would be a place for a 27-year-old man of money and fame to head to get away from distractions, but that's just what Kelly Pavlik is doing. The middleweight champion will train in Sin City for his December 19 fight against Miguel Espino.
Pavlik, who is billed as the "favorite son" of Youngstown, Ohio, has been hammered by rumors, accusations and what he says are flat-out lies in his hometown, where he still lives. Pavlik told Kevin Iole that it's gotten rougher and rougher as he's grown in stature:
"If I lived in a bubble and you rolled me in my bubble to church, there would still be somebody who would say, ‘Oh my God, Pavlik was drunk and got in a fight in the church parking lot,’ " he said. "It’s not true, but someone says it, it gets around and it gets crazy. There are like three, four guys in the NFL right now who are from Youngstown. There’s at least one who is in the Major Leagues who’s from Youngstown, but they don’t live here any more. I still do.
"I don’t hide anything. I like to play darts and when I’m not training, I’ll go with three or four of my buddies and play darts and have a couple of beers. It’s what I like to do to relax. There are boxers who like to smoke crack. There are some who take [cocaine] and others who drink. Me, I like to have a few beers while having fun with my friends. But someone sees me and tells someone else, ‘I saw Pavlik at the bar,’ and all this [stuff] starts."
"You hear I’m in rehab or an alcoholic or all this other totally crazy [stuff]," Pavlik said. "I love Youngstown. I’m living there because I choose to live there. I’ve been successful enough that I could go where I want to live, but I stay there. But that spotlight, and that small percentage of people, it gets tough."
It's a terrific interview, and well worth reading.
Kevin Iole also says that Pavlik will be getting $500,000 for the Espino fight, with some of the PPV money, too, though that isn't expected to amount to a whole lot.
Pavlik also tries to make it clear that he's not ducking Paul Williams:
"If you know the facts, you know that I wanted to fight Williams (in 2008) and he turned it down and that’s why I wound up fighting (Bernard) Hopkins," Williams said. "I had to go up two weight classes to fight Hopkins. Williams was there, fighting as a middleweight, and he was rated so high by everyone and people said no one wanted to fight him, so I wanted that fight. I wanted to get in there with him. No way – no way – would I have ever ducked him. But he didn’t take the fight (in 2008) and that’s why I wound up fighting Hopkins."
That doesn't really address the current situation, but it does indicate that Pavlik isn't "afraid" of fighting Williams, or at least that's what he's saying.
The thing about the Pavlik-Williams fight, it seems to me, is that it could have happened on December 19. The Pavlik camp says they offered to push it back to that date, but that Williams turned it down. You can't really fault Williams or his promoter Dan Goossen for that, either; they'd already had two dates scrapped for the fight, and it seems to me now that they were looking to make sure that Williams would get a nice payday to close out 2009. If both of them win in December, I don't really see a scenario where they don't fight in 2010. It would be the biggest money fight for either and we know HBO wants it.
And still the biggest loser in that entire mess? Joshua Clottey, who could have fought Shane Mosley in December, but HBO wanted to push that back in favor of Pavlik-Williams, a card that then was to feature Clottey-Carlos Quintana, which was abandoned alongside the Pavlik fight. Now, Pavlik is fighting Espino, Williams is fighting Sergio Martinez, Mosley has taken a fight with Andre Berto for January 30, and Clottey has nothing lined up.