Kelly Pavlik is taking his time with his comeback, and says that a couple of tune-up fights will come first. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Former world middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik says that he's not looking for a long series of tune-up fights, and is already thinking about fighting some of the big names at middleweight, where he may eventually return. From Luis Sandoval:
"I think the next fight will be around 168 but I talked with Robert [Garcia] and Cecilio [Flores], my personal trainer, and 160 is not out of the question still. ... There’s still a lot of intriguing fights at middleweight. You got [Sergio] Martinez who I’d give anything if I could do it the right way and make weight the right way to fight him again. Or [Julio Cesar] Chavez. Man, I’d take that fight in a heartbeat. I’d cut my leg off if I had to."
I know it's just talk and it's all early, but every time Pavlik has a chance to talk, or just be photographed, he seems a lot different working out in Oxnard with the Garcia team. Time will tell -- I'm certainly not counting the chickens before they hatch, but this was a huge step for his boxing career, and hopefully it pays off.
Pavlik says he'd like two tune-up fights at the most before getting back in with the big dogs at either 160 or 168. It's been almost a year since his last fight, a rocky win over Alfonso Lopez, and months now since he abruptly canceled an August fight on ShoBox, which was to lead to a fight in November with Lucian Bute.
In late September, Pavlik seemed to return to his senses, apologizing for "horrible decisions" and offering to fight for low money just to get back in the ring. Not long after that, he parted ways with Jack Loew, the only trainer he's ever had, and headed out to Oxnard.
It's a process. Kelly Pavlik may never become lineal middleweight champ of the world, but I do know both the middleweight and super middleweight divisions would be better off with a healthy, dedicated Kelly Pavlik in the mix. So keep your fingers crossed, and good luck to Kelly.