Kelly Pavlik says that he's pulled out of Saturday's scheduled ShoBox bout with Darryl Cunningham and a November fight with Lucian Bute due to money issues, as he felt that a $1.1 million offer to fight Bute was far too low. Does he have a case?
Yes and no, in my opinion. $1.1 million is without a doubt lower than he expected as a former middleweight champion who has headlined two HBO pay-per-views and was once a top star with that network. He has been a main event attraction. He was a draw both at home in Youngstown, Ohio, and in Atlantic City, where his fans would travel and were turning him into another reliable Jersey draw.
Could he have gotten a little more? Maybe, but then we're getting into how much more he wanted. If he wanted what Mikkel Kessler was offered to fight Bute ($3.5 million), well, no, that wasn't happening. Because Kelly Pavlik isn't that headlining fighter right now, and to become that guy again, risks like this are going to have to be taken.
Mikkel Kessler can stay in Denmark and fight European level competition for the rest of his career, and make out like a bandit. He will make his own money with or without Bute. Who is Pavlik going to fight for big money, and how big is big enough for him to fight them? Kessler has leverage. Pavlik really does not right now, so it's not a stretch to say that Pavlik should have been happy to take the million dollar risk against Bute. After all, winning would have made him more money the next fight.
It's either entitlement, as some will figure, or it's a lack of confidence. "Business" is a great buzz word a lot of people use in boxing to avoid fights. I'm sure there's a magic number that will get Pavlik into a ring with Bute in November, but it's probably not a reasonable number if this is any indication, or at least not a number that the Bute camp is going to see as reasonable or worth the hit.
Furthermore, Pavlik, as noted earlier, has now pulled out of more fights (five) than he has actually fought (four) since 2009. With this stunt, he's going to once again be seen by relevant fighters as someone you cannot rely on actually showing up. After burning Paul Williams twice in 2009, Williams chose to not give Pavlik a third chance, and fought Sergio Martinez instead. Pavlik suddenly started feeling so much better that he faced Miguel Espino at the same time.
Kelly Pavlik's whole career right now is something of a bizarre mystery. For a fighter who worked his way up on a blue collar reputation, he's really not looking like much of a blue collar fighter, and his reputation at this point might be irreversibly damaged. He's hurt his own career to the point that he may be out of chances.