Former middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik is getting back on track. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Kelly Pavlik's reported August return is likely set for the Covelli Center in Youngstown, Ohio, on August 20, which will be one of those "special" Saturday ShoBox cards if previous talk holds true, and he's also looking forward to what appears to be an all-but-set fight later this year against Lucian Bute.
"I hate calling it [a tune-up fight], but where I’m at in my career, it is what it is. ... This will probably be my last fight in Youngstown and it’s kind of exciting to fight in my hometown one last time, especially going into a world title fight."
Pavlik may fight another Interbox-promoted fighter, 39-year-old Renan St-Juste, who was in talks to be Mikkel Kessler's comeback opponent when it appeared that Kessler would fight Bute this year. Instead, Sauerland Event and Kessler went a different direction, which opened a door for Top Rank and Pavlik. Scalzo reports that Kessler turned down a $3 million offer to fight Bute in Montreal.
But Top Rank and Interbox work together frequently and have a great business relationship, and Pavlik also sounds 100% understanding that he'll have to go to Montreal to fight Bute:
"He’s a really sneaky body puncher. He just times it perfect. Pretty much all his knockouts have come from body punches. It’s something we’re going to have to work on and watch for. ... For that type of fight, I imagine I’ll have to go up there. He’s the world champion and me fighting him in Canada would be huge. I can’t see him coming here."
If the August fight is with St-Juste, it's all but a gimme for Pavlik assuming that Kelly has shaken some rust with his rocky but clean decision win over Alfonso Lopez on the Pacquiao vs Mosley undercard. St-Juste just isn't good enough to beat Pavlik or seriously trouble him, I don't think, unless Pavlik has taken serious and real steps backward in his game. And I think you have to like that he's looking to take on the guy who is arguably the best fighter in the division this quickly. Two tune-ups and a fight with Bute is a pretty good return, if it happens.
Bute, if you've missed it, returns on July 9 in Romania against Jean Paul Mendy.