'Call Em Out Fridays': Kelly Pavlik - What's Really Haunting 'The Ghost'?

Kelly PavlikBy Vivek Wallace: This weeks 'Call Em Out Fridays' segment shines the spotlight on a man who needs little introduction. Once a dweller along the avenue of anonymity, this warrior started his career by chopping down every opponent placed before him, forcing some to begin questioning his level of competition. In May of 2007 he would silence many of those critics by not only wearing down, but completely stopping a typically granite-chinned Edison Miranda. After proving many of his doubters wrong and moving on, his next act would serve as another tool to cement his response to those in question, as he overcame a moment of adversity that sent him to the canvass, only to seal what was arguably his most triumphant victory to date - a KO victory over the previously undefeated Jermain Taylor who was ahead on all cards at the time of the stoppage. Despite this watershed moment, he would return to face Taylor again, to prove to that same group of detractors that he was capable of getting the nod without needing to stop his opponent. It would appear that Pavlik was the sports newest freight train, running over every man in sight....that was until the 'Ghost' stumbled upon the 'Executioner', along with a few other demons with a quest to get out the closet - or atleast some would have us think that way..

In nearly every other sport, a loss is expected, and at times perhaps even necessary for progress. In the sport of boxing, however, we routinely witness the curtains pulled just a wee-bit quicker on contenders who (is perceived to) suddenly have lost that veil of invincibility, which adds a certain level of stress to an already tense dynamic. Hagler, Leonard, Ali, and many others never quite lost their mystique in the absence of their proverbial "O", but in today's era, Pavlik now finds himself having a little more in common with many of his other Top Rank stablemates (Margarito/Cotto/Duddy), all due in part to the fact that he suffered a loss. Is it right for him to be besieged with questions - particularly while boasting a staggering record of 35-1, 31KO's? Many would say no, but despite a lack of support for those who practice this habit, in the case of Pavlik, it goes from a matter of not necessarily questioning the loss, but rather questioning the shell of the person it apparently left behind. Ever since the humbling loss to Bernard Hopkins, in the eyes of many, Pavlik has failed to muster his mojo. His followup performance, which came against Marco Antonio Rubio, was far less than stellar and according to many, the effort put forth would have gotten him loss #2 against many others in the game. After that subpar performance, Pavlik was scheduled to face Sergio Mora, only to pull out of that fight for what was later described as a "staph infection". Trouble is, many in the underground world of the sport seem to think the recently unconfirmed rumors of alcoholism and other personal problems were in fact the lead source.

At the end of the day, whether those rumors are true or not, the one thing that no one can deny is the fact that there has been a highly visible and extremely conspicuous change in the demeanor, approach, and persona of Kelly Pavlik. Recently, HBO reportedly low-balled his return fight, (scheduled to take place against Germany's Felix Sturm), by offering a dismal $2M. Logic points to the economy, but when you consider that the same network shelled out $3.5M to present us a rematch of the Chad Dawson/Antonio Tarver rematch, and was also reportedly in high pursuit of a Zab Judah/Andre Berto showdown at nearly all cost, one has to wonder if the low numbers presented had more to do with recent questions, or simply the deflating value of a man who some feel has simply run out of answers - which is practically one in the same. Whatever the case may be, it's a bit unsettling to know that a man who only a few years ago was being touted as the sports 'tomorrow' has quickly become yesterdays old news, overnight. Questions of his personal life should play no part in the equation, but when you're not around to answer them, it's the silence which speaks volumes to the ear of a critic. As former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino once told one of his young receivers...."There's only one way to silence your critics....that's to show up when the lights come on and put on a helluva show"! There are no touchdowns in the sport of boxing, but if Pavlik hopes to make a splash the way he once did, it can only be made possible by way of a very timely 'conversion'. It's the 4th quarter on 4th down from the four yard line....With the game (his career) hangin' in the balance, it'll be interesting to see if Pavlik can return to the field and put it in the 'zone'! Stay tuned.

(Vivek Wallace can be contacted at:, 954-292-7346, Facebook and Myspace).

Article posted on 03.07.2009

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