Trainer Jack Loew tells Lem Satterfield at The RING that former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik is looking better than he did earlier this year as he prepares for his August 6 fight on the "special" ShoBox against Darryl Cunningham. On May 7, Pavlik labored to a majority decision win over Texas club fighter Alfonso Lopez, and now takes a mild step up in a tune-up fight meant to prepare him for a November clash with Lucian Bute.
"Kelly is definitely a whole lot sharper than he was against Alfonso. What I wanted to see in training was whether or not we could pick up from that point on or whether or not we would have to work some more rust off. ... I saw a whole lot more of the old Kelly back. That's what I needed to see. We needed to pick up from the ninth and 10th round on and not struggle like we did in the early rounds."
Pavlik (37-2, 32 KO) definitely closed his fight with Lopez stronger than he started, and Loew feels confident that the fighter who claimed the middleweight championship in 2007 is still inside of Kelly Pavlik. Pavlik's career has been in something of a freefall since he was outclassed by Bernard Hopkins in 2008. After a pain of dominant but fairly unimpressive wins over Marco Antonio Rubio and Miguel Espino, Pavlik lost the title to Sergio Martinez in 2010, and spent time in rehab last year, too, for alcohol issues. That subject came up again recently, when Pavlik was allegedly involved in a fight with his brother, but after leaving the scene, Pavlik later said he had not been drinking. Given his history -- which has included a lot of denials of alcohol-related issues by him and his team -- there are skeptics out there doubting that Pavlik is all the way back.
It will be interesting to see how he looks against Cunningham. His performance against Lopez likely didn't convince anyone that he can beat Bute in November, and if he looks bad again, that could take a lot of the starch out of a Bute vs Pavlik fight.