Kelly Pavlik will fight for the first time in 11 months on April 14. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Kelly Pavlik will make his return to the ring on April 14 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, but he'll be away from the pressure zone with an off-TV bout on the Brandon Rios vs Yuriorkis Gamboa undercard.
Osman Rodriguez reports that Pavlik (37-2, 32 KO) will face Bedford, VA-based club fighter Scott Sigmon (21-3, 12 KO) in his return to the ring. Pavlik has not fought since a rocky win on May 7 of last year, when he nipped past Alfonso Lopez on the Pacquiao vs Mosley show.
At the time, it seemed like perhaps Lopez was better than expected, but getting further looks at Lopez has allowed us to see, quite frankly, just how bad Pavlik really was that night. Lopez lost an early contender for Worst Fight of the Year on January 6 to Dyah Davis, and just this past weekend dropped a six-round decision to Justin Williams (4-5-1, 2 KO) in Corpus Christi on the Williams vs Ishida undercard.
For Pavlik to have struggled so mightily with that guy means that Pavlik was incredibly rusty and not himself that night -- so imagine what another year out of the ring has probably done to him.
This is going to be the "other" hurdle for Kelly Pavlik. Yes, he has a lot of personal issues to deal with, and he's out in Oxnard training with Robert Garcia to help get past all of that. Whether he does it or not is up in the air -- it's on him.
But even if he does, can he fight at a high level again? He turns 30 on April 4, and while that's certainly not old or even past prime fighting years, he's put himself through a lot physically and mentally, and really hasn't been the same fighter since beating Jermain Taylor a second time in 2008. Since then his wins have come over Gary Lockett, Marco Antonio Rubio, Miguel Espino, and Lopez, the best of the lot being Rubio who barely showed up for that fight, and really his best overall performance in that time might have been a loss to Sergio Martinez.
He's taking the right type of fight for his comeback. He appears serious, and when we saw him last week on ShoBox accompanying Youngstown buddy Billy Lyell, he looked healthy and in very good shape. Hopefully that's a sign for the better.
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Bob Arum says that if Pavlik looks good and can make 160 after a couple tune-up fights, they'll talk about putting him into a PPV fight with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
If it's not just empty talk (which it very well could be), then this might indicate that Top Rank isn't particularly confident in the Pavlik comeback story, and at the risk of sounding cold, it's kind of hard to blame them. Promoters being promoters and fighters being fighters and the way it works being the way it works, I'm sure they're concerned about his well-being and all that, but they're also looking to maximize profit on what's left of his career.
I do like that Arum already says it would be on pay-per-view. A comebacking Kelly Pavlik without a good win since 2008 would be pay-per-view worthy in the land of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, because compared to most of Junior's opponents, he'd be just that dangerous.
Sometimes I wonder if Top Rank thinks leaving a paper trail of potential Chavez fights will allow them to continually delay the Martinez fight with the WBC. "No, no! We have to do Martin Murray, and Andy Lee, and Kelly Pavlik, and Canelo, and even Mayorga's calling him out, we can't just ignore that! He's a big star!" "OK, Bob, but after those guys...'