BoxingScene.com's Rick Reeno reports that Peter Manfredo Jr. is looking to score a November 13 fight with former world middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik. Pavlik's name has been bandied about as a possible feature player on the undercard of the Pacquiao-Margarito event in Texas.
Pavlik (36-2, 32 KO) lost his middleweight crown in April to Sergio Martinez. It was an uneventful run as middleweight king for Pavlik, who dethroned Jermain Taylor in an excellent fight back in September 2007. As middleweight champ, Pavlik went 1-1 in catchweight non-title fights, beating Taylor a second time and getting blown out by Bernard Hopkins. His title defenses were forgettable to put it nicely, as he topped Gary Lockett, Marco Antonio Rubio and Miguel Espino before losing to Martinez.
Manfredo (35-6, 19 KO) is a hard-working guy who recently signed with DiBella Entertainment. DiBella promoted Taylor for both of the Pavlik fights, as well as Martinez, so he knows Pavlik well. When there was talk of Pavlik looking for a bounce-back opponent right after the Martinez loss, I brought up Manfredo here as someone I thought would be a proper opponent. We talked about it again this week. I'm a little surprised that it's coming up on one hand, with Manfredo signing with DiBella to further a career and go on a run at 160, but on the other hand, it doesn't surprise me at all. Manfredo may be limited in the ring, but he's never shown fear of taking chances, and a win over what may or may not be a disillusioned or lackadaisical Pavlik would be by far the biggest of his career. Manfredo knows that, and DiBella knows that. DiBella saw Pavlik up close at his last fight. He may feel Pavlik is good for the taking. And it's also going to be a good payday for Manfredo if they can make that fight.
From Pavlik's side, it's not the most amazing comeback opponent, but it's better than some other ideas Top Rank might come up with, including John Duddy. Manfredo is solid, credible, and has looked good since going back down to 160. The guys he's beaten aren't world-beaters by any stretch, but he's much better physically at 160 than he is over the middleweight limit.
And I like it as a fight. Pavlik is a lot of fun to watch when he isn't being thoroughly outboxed or isn't bewildered by a better opponent. Manfredo isn't going to frustrate Pavlik the way Martinez and Hopkins did, and he'll stand and trade with the Youngstown product, too. It could be, if both are motivated, a very good fight. Pavlik would be the favorite for sure, but Manfredo would be a legitimate step on the drawing board.