Kelly Pavlik's career is on the line as he heads to California. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Kelly Pavlik nearly killed his career a couple of months ago, but with an admittedly desperate plea for one final chance, the former middleweight champ isn't just talking the talk, he is walking the walk. Dan Rafael of ESPN.com reported on Saturday that Pavlik will move to California to train with Robert Garcia, leaving behind both Jack Loew and Youngstown in order to find a fresh start.
Bob Arum made clear that he was no longer interested in the version of Pavlik that has been half a trainwreck the last few years, but also notes he's still willing to work with and help the fighter:
"We had a nice meeting with Pavlik and we laid out a course of action that [Pavlik] liked," Arum said. "It's gonna be a whole new ballgame as to where he trains, who his trainer is going to be, where he's going to live."
Arum said if Pavlik wanted to remain in Youngstown, "I'm not interested. Jack is fine, but [Pavlik] needs to be away from Youngstown. That doesn't work [for him to stay there]. He was very, very receptive. What that ultimately means, I don't know. But we're going to fly him out to Oxnard, let him see the beach, the training facility, and I've offered to lease him a home."
For as much guff as promoters sometimes take, and much of it is of course very well-deserved and earned, Pavlik could have long ago been cast aside by Arum, released from his promotional contract and wished the best of luck in his future endeavors. But Arum has, for some reason, decided to give Pavlik a final shot.
I say "for some reason" because this is a situation where the fighter has not, to be quite honest, earned another chance at relevance, at least not with major backing like this. Pavlik has essentially done nothing right since his June 2008 win over Gary Lockett, and even that was criticized as being a poor opponent who was nothing more than a walkover for the then-champion.
Since that time, Pavlik has:
- lost badly to an old Bernard Hopkins
- beaten Marco Antonio Rubio
- pulled out of fights with Sergio Mora and Paul Williams (twice)
- beaten Miguel Espino
- lost the middleweight crown to Sergio Martinez
- done a couple stints in rehab
- sat out 13 months
- beaten Alfonso Lopez in very unimpressive fashion
- bailed on fights with Darryl Cunningham and Lucian Bute
Sure there are three wins in there, but none of them were impressive, and it can be argued that the last time Pavlik fought impressively and won was against Jermain Taylor in their first fight. Even the rematch was sort of a letdown performance from both men, who fought more tentatively and failed to live up to their Fight of the Year type of hype that came out of their initial meeting.
Kelly Pavlik is 29 years old, turns 30 in April 2012. There may or may not be some fight left in him. Even manager Cameron Dunkin admits that this may not work:
"It's about seeing if Kelly still has any fight left in him, and he may not. He wasn't getting any better, he wasn't training, he had no organization. He wasn't in a positive way. So you have to make changes. You have to do something. You have to make drastic changes and see if it's going to work."
About 60 days ago, Pavlik was claiming that he was fine with never fighting again. Is this the shot in the arm he needs? Is this going to make any real difference? Or will taking Pavlik out of Youngstown and out of Jack Loew's gym just be another ultimately sideways step, with a fighter whose fighting spirit has been sapped by losses, personal setbacks, a lack of drive and organization in his career, and too much time wasted? If he can't be the fighter he was four years ago, can he be better than he's been in the last two or so?