Kelly Pavlik officially declines rematch, moving up in weight

Kelly Pavlik is waving goodbye to the middleweight division. via www.teampavlik.com

According to the Youngstown Vindicator, Kelly Pavlik has officially declined to exercise his rematch clause against Sergio Martinez and will be moving up in weight.  Last month, Pavlik lost at middleweight for the first time in his career and lost his middleweight championship to the Argentine Sergio Martinez, who had moved up in weight to challenge for Pavlik's title. 

This ends a couple of weeks of mixed messages and speculation for Pavlik.  For well over a year, Pavlik has stated that he's had trouble making the middleweight limit recently, and his ring weight against Martinez was over the light heavyweight limit.  During his post-fight interview, Pavlik again brought up weight issues, but did indicate that he would like to rematch Martinez.  During last weekend's bout between Paul Williams and Kermit Cintron, Larry Merchant stated that Pavlik would not be exercising the clause, although trainer Jack Leow later refuted that assertion with the press.

Pavlik is in somewhat of a no-man's land now.  At over 6'2" and with a walking weight in the 180's, he has the length and the frame to move all the way up to light heavyweight if he wants to.  On the other hand, Pavlik looked a bit lethargic in his two bouts over the middleweight limit, against Jermain Taylor and especially Bernard Hopkins. 

Options at both sumer middleweight and light heavyweight are relatively thin.  Most of the 'name' super middleweights are either contractually tied up with the Super Six tournament or are guys who Pavlik has already beaten (Miranda, Taylor).  The one name super middleweight who is available is Lucian Bute, who is pretty similar to Martinez and probably is a pretty bad style matchup for Pavlik, especially coming off a loss.  There's even more of a dearth of big name fighters at light heavyweight.  Chad Dawson is well known, but he couldn't draw a stick figure.  Antonio Tarver says he's not retired, and Glen Johnson is still soldiering on, but they're both north of 40 and don't have much time left.  After that, there are a lot of names that Pavlik might beat, but who don't have much name recognition of their own. 

Don't expect a decision to get made too quickly.  Pavlik and advisor Cameron Dunkin will probably wait to see what kinds of offers come in, and make a decision based on that as well as general training. 

This decision also leaves Sergio Martinez without an immediate dancing partner.  While he's just won the middleweight championship of the world, the only big name alternatives left for him to fight at that weight would be Paul Williams or Winky Wright.  Martinez also holds a belt at junior middleweight, and may have more options there, including a rematch against Antonio Margarito, or a shot at the winner of the bout between Miguel Cotto and Yuri Foreman.

In the meantime, it's back to the gym for Pavlik, which shouldn't be as grueling now that he doesn't have to cut weight to absurd levels.  According to Leow, the goal is "to get back to training like a regular fighter and throwing 100 punches a round."  If moving up means he gets his old workrate back, then it's probably a good decision, even though he's already walked away from what is likely to be the most lucrative offer he'll get for a while. 

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