Kelly Pavlik - Suddenly A Middleweight Champion Without A Worthy Rival

by James Slater - One man who looks like he's going to lose out due to the Showtime Super-middleweight tournament that gets underway in October, is middleweight world champion Kelly Pavlik. Not only has Pavlik refused or been refused entry into the tourney, but with the creation of the six-fighter series he has lost his biggest and most financially rewarding foe at 160-pounds - "King" Arthur Abraham.

Abraham, in agreeing to take part in the tournament along with Carl Froch, Jermain Taylor, Andre Dirrell, Mikkel Kessler and Andre Ward, gave up his IBF middleweight title and said goodbye to both his former weight class and a unification battle with "The Ghost.." As a result, and pretty much all of a sudden, the exciting puncher from Youngstown is left with no marquee name to get it on with at his current weight. And after the bad loss he suffered against Bernard Hopkins back in October of last year, Pavlik really needs a top named and highly respected foe on which to beat up on so as to restore his reputation as one of the sport's very best.

Who is there that Pavlik could beat now where the win would make the fans forget his points loss to "The Executioner?" Sure, a win over WBA middleweight ruler Felix Sturm, particularly an impressive KO win, would do Pavlik some good. But the German aside, who else's name looks attractive next to the 27-year-old's? Take a look down the middleweight rankings, and you will quickly see that there is no-one of any real note for the middleweight king to fight - Sturm aside, and let's face it, the WBA champion, though a decent fighter, is no star.

No, to get the mega-fights his career needs in order for it to regain the lustre it had back when he was KO'ing Edison Miranda and Jermain Taylor, Pavlik must move up or wait around for a new star/worthy prospect to come along and challenge him at 160 - and the latter option could take time. Also adding to the champ's problems is the fact that after the catch-weight loss to B-Hop, Kelly said he would only fight at his natural weight of middleweight from now on; so that option looks out. And in any case, even if Pavlik were to change his mind and look to go up a weight class, with all the top names at 168 busy in the Showtime thing - barring Lucian Bute, who will next likely face Librado Andrade in a rematch - who could he get himself a fight with at 168 this year anyway?

A Pavlik-Abraham unification bout at middleweight would have been huge. This fight is now lost and Pavlik must find himself another major name - but the clock is ticking. A very good fighter who still has it in him to become a great fighter, Pavlik is in danger of going off the boil (just one fight so far this year, remember). Talks have reportedly been in place for the middleweight boss to face current WBC light-middleweight champion Sergio Martinez next. Will this fight get the fans in any way excited? Fat chance, and no disrespect is aimed at the man who was controversially held to a draw by Kermit Cintron either.

It's not Pavlik's fault that he is now the sole star in an otherwise pretty barren weight division. But unless he either - A: moves up in weight (which he said he doesn't want to do) and somehow gets himself a big fight at 168, or B: gets a fight deal with the man who has expressed interest in facing him before, in Paul Williams - Pavlik is in real danger of becoming almost a forgotten man. This very notion would have sounded utterly ridiculous last year, when Kelly was rightfully being called one of the most exciting fighters in all of boxing.

But you need top-class and or dangerous opposition to bring out the best in you, and at present there are no such fighters in Kelly Pavlik's immediate - or maybe even long term - future.

Article posted on 15.07.2009

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