Kelly Pavlik is primed and ready to make his return to the Friday Night Fights rings this week on ESPN2, where he'll face Virginia club fighter Scott Sigmon in the super middleweight main event.
To say the last, Pavlik, now training with Robert Garcia in Oxnard, Calif., is not supposed to struggle here. This is meant as a showcase fight and nothing more for the former middleweight champion. Pavlik (38-2, 33 KO) fought for the first time under Garcia's care on March 31, blowing past Aaron Jaco in two rounds.
Pavlik tells Steve Kim at Max Boxing that he's fine with being on ESPN right now, and that he's happy for the exposure:
"Y' know, with maturity and everything, I think it's good," said an upbeat Pavlik earlier this week. "It's good exposure to be on ESPN the night before and would I have liked to be on the big card? Yeah, definitely, but I gotta go back out there and get back on the winning trail and make some noise that way and then we'll start getting those big fights again."
Friday's bout isn't supposed to be any more challenging for Kelly than the fight in March was. By the end of the year, Top Rank, Garcia, and the fighter all hope to have him back in a bigger, more legitimate fight -- back as a contender. The IBF is hoping that Pavlik will accept a chance to get there in August, as they've offered Pavlik a spot against Adonis Stevenson on August 11, in a super middleweight title eliminator.
Pavlik, 30, has not decided yet, but most do not expect the Youngstown native to take the fight, simply because there may well be much bigger money options out there, including potential fights with Lucian Bute or Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, either of which would pay Pavlik more money.
So far, the likes of Edwin Rodriguez, Thomas Oosthuizen, and James DeGale have all turned down a trip to Quebec to face Stevenson on the Tavoris Cloud vs Jean Pascal undercard, airing live on Showtime.
If Pavlik turns down the fight, the next opponent on the list is Pablo Farias (20-2, 12 KO) of Argentina, but the IBF says they'll await the new rankings before making another offer. Farias served as roadkill for Arthur Abraham in January.
It wouldn't be surprising if, say, Sakio Bika debuted as a new highly-ranked fighter, having wiped out 11th-ranked Dyah Davis on June 2. Here are the current rankings below Pavlik:
- Farias: There are issues here. Showtime would probably not want to pay for this, for one thing, and it's just not a good fight.
- Glen Johnson: Glen Johnson is moving back to 175 pounds for his next fight on July 13, when he'll face Andrzej Fonfara on Friday Night Fights.
- Andre Dirrell: Dirrell is not going to take this fight. Period. I don't even want to kind of discuss this.
- Don George: George was dominated by Edwin Rodriguez last time out.
- Rowland Bryant: Well, he won his last fight, and given his lack of status in the sport, I have no doubt he'd jump at the chance.
- Librado Andrade: He's the guy who lost to Rowland Bryant. The IBF refuses to stop ranking him for some reason.