Kelly Pavlik sounds ready to fight, but it's up to him to prove it. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Dan Rafael of ESPN.com has a story up on former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik, who recently spoke with his manager Cameron Dunkin and, at least in Dunkin's words, is desperate to come back to boxing and prove himself viable once again.
Pavlik reportedly says that he wants to get out of Youngstown, Ohio, for his next training camp, and that he's ready to come back "full tilt." In May of this year, Pavlik nipped past club fighter Alfonso Lopez in his comeback fight after over a year out of the ring, but in August he bailed on a ShoBox showcase date with Darryl Cunningham, and with it, a November 5 bout with Lucian Bute, which Showtime was also going to air.
Dunkin said Pavlik apologized for his "horrible decisions" and said, "I will fight for $10,000 -- it's not about money. I really want to do this."
Dunkin said he was excited to hear Pavlik talk with the kind of hunger he hadn't sensed from the fighter in quite some time.
"He said, 'I know I've made some mistakes, I know I f----- up,'" Dunkin said. "And then he goes, 'I just want to fight.'"
Obviously almost everyone will be skeptical here. Pavlik, 29, has canceled more fights than he's actually participated in since 2009, and has never seemed quite "right" since his October 2008 loss to Bernard Hopkins. He's battled personal issues outside of the ring, including stops in rehab in 2010, and his last transgression seemed to expire the boxing world of its patience with the former champ.
All Pavlik can do now is back this talk up. That's the only way he can get back into the good graces of Top Rank, TV networks HBO and Showtime (who have both been burned), the fans, the media, and everyone else. Pavlik's professional life is dead right now, and it was a suicide.
But boxing is a sport that loves a good comeback story, and if Kelly Pavlik is really back in line personally, then he can get back professionally.
Still, it's quite a change in tone from August, when Pavlik didn't just bail and cancel his two fights, but he did so on very short notice, with some strange circumstances surrounding it all, and then he made very clear in a public forum that he didn't regret doing it. Arrogantly, he said that nobody was hurt by the decision but him, when in fact Top Rank, Showtime, Cunningham, the undercard fighters set for the date, their teams and their promoters, and the fans were all affected.
He said the money wasn't good enough, even though he was given the entire ShoBox budget, with Top Rank paying out of pocket for everyone else. He said the money to fight Bute wasn't good enough, but it did, to be fair, seem as though he was working on misinformation there. Pavlik was offered $1.35 million for the fight, a very good payday for someone whose career was already kind of beaten and bruised. But he had heard that Mikkel Kessler was offered $3.5 million to fight Bute, and Kessler pretty quickly let it be known that that was not the case.
But he still should have fought Cunningham. No offense to Darryl Cunningham, but anyone in Pavlik's shoes, if they're really ready to go, should never worry about a fight with a guy like Cunningham. He could have fought, won, and kept negotiating with Bute. He might have found out that the $3.5 million fairy tale he'd heard about Kessler wasn't true.
If this career rises from the dead, it will be because Kelly Pavlik actually put in the work. The ball is in his court as long as Top Rank is willing to take the risk again.