Is Kelly Pavlik’s career on the line against Williams?

pavlik By Bill Patrice Jones - There was a time when if you were a white working class boxing champion, who was explosive and drew big crowds then you by default had a passageway to big money. With the ever changing landscape of pro boxing and the business of it all, this is unfortunately for Kelly Pavlik no longer the case.

Kelly Pavlik meets all the above criteria, and if colour means far less now than it once did in determining a fighter’s moneymaking ability, Pavlik more than makes up for that with his: crowd pleasing style, toughness and determination to win at all costs. Yet where is the safe money for Pavlik anymore? It is nowhere to be seen…

Kelly Pavlik fought his way to the title the old fashioned way, the hard way. Blasting his way through the standard tomato cans before gradually stepping up in class and then ultimately moving from prospect to number one contender with a stellar year in 2007 that saw him ice Jose Luis Zertuche in the eighth and then pummel the much feared Edison Miranda into submission in a classic brawl.. He was the undisputed number one contender and completed his journey by knocking out reigning champion Jermain Taylor in seven of the best rounds we have seen in the twenty-first century: A star had been born!

Yet just as this star was born the match up problems for Kelly began. Where were his meaningful and financially rewarding fights going to come from? First up to bat was Taylor again waving his rematch clause in camp Pavlik’s face and shaking his head. Kelly was going to have to leave his titles for the time being and move up to 164 pounds to fight Taylor again. Pavlik was understandably unhappy about this clause but ultimately could not say no, and while Taylor decided to fight at a more measured pace looking to box Kelly (well aware of the devastating power) Pavlik proved too much for him again, outworking the vengeance seeking Olympian over 12 entertaining rounds.

Now it was time to reign. Kelly dismantled an overmatched Gary Lockett in his first defence and then sought out the big fight. Calzaghe had other arrangements, as did Abraham and Sturm and with the absence of a worthwhile title defence Kelly became desperate. In the end he was almost forced by GBP (Golden, boy promotions) and HBO to move up in weight (something he should never have done) to fight Bernard Hopkins. Kelly never wanted a piece of Hopkins, especially at 175 yet where else was he to turn? He wanted a payday and GBP were offering him one, he had no choice. Pavlik was motivated to fight Hopkins for the wrong reasons, logic from Pavlik’s perspective said the fight was too risky and meaningless (Hopkins had lost his middleweight title and was no longer fighting there). Conversely Hopkins had been vying desperately for an avenue to restate his greatness in the wake of his disappointment with Calzaghe. He had fully adjusted to 175 pounds (perhaps his best weight division) and wanted nothing more than to disrupt an American dream in mid-flight. Hopkins did more than disrupt Pavlik’s flight he almost forced a crash landing. Pavlik suffered a psychologically damaging beating in a fight he never wanted to participate in.

He has bounced back with another routine defence against Rubio and once again is looking for the payday. But where is it? The super middleweight division is rapidly becoming the middleweight division of the past, and much of the talent in this era can be found there: Calzaghe, Froch, Taylor, Kessler, etc even opponents like Bika and Pascal offer more than those at middleweight. Talks for a proposed unification with Abraham broke down and all for the wrong reasons. Abraham claimed Pavlik wanted nothing to do with him, Kelly the same. Yet not long after it was revealed Kelly was more interested in a money defence with Sergio Mora (a fight which would have resulted in certain victory for the ghost).

Pavlik has danced between super fights and money defenses ever since he became champion and has failed to settle happily into either.

Receiving the gratitude and excitement of myself and boxing fans around the world Pavlik has now signed to face one of the most exciting and avoided boxers alive: Paul Williams. The once freakishly big welterweight is out to prove he has what it takes to win his fourth world title at middleweight.

This author expects the fight to be very crowd pleasing. Williams can throw so many punches at times he resembles something out of a video game. His conditioning is beautiful and when he senses an opening he unleashes volleys of punches at a good distance. Yet Pavlik himself is known for his relentless approach, he throws combinations all night and has out jabbed Jermain Taylor (a fighter with a very skillful jab himself). Paul will fight with a necessary degree of caution but will warm to the challenge and if Pavlik cannot get his man out of there or sense he is controlling the pace he may very well grow frustrated. Kelly’s corner always focuses on the fundamentals and insist Kelly make it easy by simply employing a double jab and making use of the right hand. Yet Hopkin’s predicted and prophetically that the Pavlik camp would implode once the fight turned against him and it did. Could we see something similar if Paul’s speed and skill fluster the ghost? A knockout is perpetually possible when Kelly is in the ring so nothing can be certain. Yet this author is starting to foresee an entertaining 12 rounds where Williams will take advantage of Pavlik’s one dimensional (but thus far remarkably effective) approach and inactivity scoring a very close UD.

It’s a fight the world will watch, but at what cost to Pavlik? If he were to lose especially so shortly after the Hopkin’s fiasco where would his future be? Williams is coming up and Kelly has never lost at 160. If Paul were to lose it could be written off as a bridge too far, but if Pavlik were to be beaten handily it might bankrupt his chances of making huge money in the future.

There are myriad reasons to be excited about this wonderful stylistic clash and in the opinion of this author one more is that Pavlik’s career may very well be on the line.

We just cant wait!

Article posted on 02.10.2009

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