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Trainer for Miguel Espino happy about Kelly Pavlik fight

Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

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Robert Morales reports that John Bray, who trains Miguel Espino, is "elated" about Espino's upcoming shot at middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik. The two will meet in a fight that raised a lot of eyebrows on December 19 in Youngstown, Ohio:

Espino's longtime trainer knows Team Pavlik chose Espino, who is not a heavy hiter, because it does not consider Espino a serious threat to dethrone Pavlik, who twice pulled out of fights with a much more dangerous Paul Williams because he said an injury to his left hand had yet to heal.

"We are very, very happy, very elated," Bray said. "we're going to make the most out of our opportunity. I'm figuring they are looking at him as a light touch. I mean, come on, they turned down the Paul Williams fight."

You may remember Espino from "The Contender" (he lost to Peter Manfredo Jr. in round one of season one), and I have learned from a July interview with Convicted Artist Magazine that he has a role in that Mark Wahlberg movie about Micky Ward.

Bray says that they'll be ready to "take advantage" of Pavlik taking Espino lightly, but the truth is this fight is such a gimme for someone at Pavlik's level that it would take an injury or something like that to make any real difference. I'm not trying to totally dismiss Espino, but he's 29 and the only win on his record that even looks particularly decent came earlier this year over Alejandro Garcia, and Garcia is 1-4-1 in his last six now, dating back to 2006. And Garcia was also knocked out in the first round of an August 2008 bout with Yori Boy Campas. And Yori Boy Campas is about as shot as they come.

So, I guess overall, I probably am trying to totally dismiss Espino. This is a weird fight, one that feels shady, and while I like Pavlik, there's nothing about this fight I particularly like other than it'll get Kelly back in the ring. But Espino is being overlooked because he should be. He's not on Pavlik's level, he's 5'11" with a weak KO rate against suspect competition, and if nothing else Pavlik can punch and is a big middleweight. Espino is probably in for about the same fate that awaited Gary Lockett, Marco Antonio Rubio, Jose Luis Zertuche and Lenord Pierre. We already know Pavlik can waste this level of competition.

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