One of the year's biggest and most compelling fights is on, according to ESPN.com's Dan Rafael. Middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik will defend against Paul Williams on October 3 in Atlantic City.
Top Rank president Todd duBoef, Pavlik's promoter, and Dan Goossen, Williams' promoter, had been in heavy negotiations for the past few weeks. More than once, the talks stalled over how they would divide HBO's $3.75 million license fee and the live gate, which could be around $2 million.
However, the talks came to a head because HBO had given the sides a deadline and would not commit to giving either fighter a date in the fall to fight another opponent. Top Rank had also begun to explore other options for Pavlik, most prominently former undisputed junior middleweight champ Winky Wright and former "Contender" star and super middleweight world title challenger Peter Manfredo Jr.
Finally, duBoef and Goossen made a deal with the Williams side due to receive a package of just under $2 million. Pavlik will also have a rematch clause at his option in the event he loses, one of the points of contention during the negotiations.
"Goossen and I have agreed to all terms and we are going to contract for the fight," duBoef told ESPN.com. "We look forward to a formal announcement."
Said Goossen, "I'm just happy that we've finally come to terms and gotten this resolved. Now we can move forward."
A news conference is being planned for next Tuesday in New York.
It's great, great news for boxing fans. A legit world champion defending in a big fight against a legit challenger. There's not a better opponent out there for Kelly Pavlik, and there probably isn't one out there for Paul Williams, either. The lanky Williams will get his chin tested at 160 by a guy who can flat out bomb as a middleweight, and Pavlik will face plenty of challenge from Williams' 82-inch reach, busy hands, and southpaw stance.
It's a fight that stacks up on paper as one that has almost no chance of being unpleasant to watch. Williams is really aggressive and Pavlik will have to dig down deep with power shots. I don't think there's much argument for Pavlik winning a "boxing match"; he's going to have to hurt Williams and keep him from punching a mile a minute.
This is a big fight. It won't do massive ratings on HBO and probably won't be a mainstream crossover to any degree. Neither fighter has a huge fanbase. But Boardwalk Hall will be sold out, the atmosphere will be excellent, and both guys are taking a huge risk with this fight. You can't ask for much more than the sport's elites duking it out. That's what we have with Pavlik-Williams.