Continuing on with the interview with former middleweight king Kelly Pavlik, “The Ghost” talks about his rematch with over Jermain Taylor, as well as his losses to Bernard Hopkins and Sergio Martinez. Pavlik also has his say on whether or not he deserves to be enshrined in The Hall of Fame.
Q: You were talking about the catch-weigh rematch with Jermain Taylor, a fight Taylor enforced by way of his rematch clause.
Kelly Pavlik: “Yeah, again they [the experts] were giving me no chance – that were saying the only shot I had of winning was by KO. This left me and my camp totally confused, because in all reality, we were beating Taylor in the first fight. So I don’t know why so many people were saying the only way I could win [the rematch] was by knockout – I won lots of rounds in the first fight. On top of that, me being a fighter that gets stronger as the fight goes on, averaging 80 to 90 punches a round. Jermain was known to fade in the later rounds.”
Q: It just shows what the so-called experts know!
K.P: “Yeah, it’s like that in all sports; it’s a bias. It’s what I call hard-headed bias. So many people like to go back to the older era, nobody’s better than the older era. Every two decades, there’s a new era, and it’s like, nobody’s better than this era! But in reality, athletes have evolved so much, from just 30 years ago. It’s night and day, even in boxing. I know people have debated this, but boxers have evolved. I’m a former world champion, and I’d love to, 30 years from now, say, ‘you guys couldn’t carry my shoes!’ But the guys today, the sport, it’s much more advanced than I was.”
Q: After the Taylor rematch win, you fought Bernard Hopkins, in another catch-weigh fight.
K.P: “Yeah, that was actually at light-heavyweight, so two weight divisions above middleweight. I’m not lying, and you can see it’s well talked about in Atlantic City records, and with the commission, I have no doubt they documented my situation. I never really like to get into it, because I’m not dealing with excuses. It was just not my night that night. It wasn’t Kelly Pavlik that night, and on top of that, Bernard Hopkins is just a technician. I still to this day tell people about Hopkins’ footwork. People seem to think [great] footwork is like a Pernell Whitaker or a Hector Camacho, you know, flashy. But it’s a lot more than that. Sometimes guys who are the less flashy have the best footwork. Bernard Hopkins will probably go down in history, not only as having the best footwork; the way he would make the step in at the right time, to offset you, and how he gets out at the right time, this by taking that one step over. He was one of the greats.
“In boxing, this is how it works, how I’ll explain it. Just because I beat Jermain Taylor, it doesn’t mean I beat Bernard Hopkins. But, there’s no way in hell that Hopkins should have beat me as easily as he did. Automatically, that should tell you. If I lost that fight, it should have been a close fight, say 116-112, you know, something around that. It just goes to show that something was wrong. It’s almost scientifically impossible for me to go through a guy [Taylor] who beat him twice. So for Bernard to beat me – and I’m not saying I should have beat Bernard because Taylor beat him twice – but that fight should never have been so one-sided. I take nothing away from Bernard; he just did so many things to offset [me], he had so many skills. He did things that make him one of the best in history. But it would have been a different fight if I’d been at even 80 percent. But all I could do after that fight was learn from it and move on.”
Q: And you had the staph infection also. Some fights that were talked of but never happened for you – Paul Williams, Joe Calzaghe, Andre Ward and Carl Froch. Do you have any regrets in terms of fights you wanted but never got?
K.P: “No. Well, I guess, yeah. A lot of it comes down to promotional companies; I’d say around 90 percent of the time. Of course, the fighters are just the sitting ducks in that regard. I mean, what’s told to me, the fighter, could be different to what’s said behind closed doors. But take the Arthur Abraham fight. That was one that was negotiated. They wanted me to go to Germany for that fight, and that made no sense. That was kind of like wiping your ass before you shit! I was the lineal middleweight champion, so why would I fly over to his home country to fight for another version of the belt? So Top Rank definitely made the right decision in me not going over to Germany. Paul Williams? That was, well, two times we were down to negotiations, and that was just horrible. It was in Sports Illustrated and that fight just fell through. Carl Froch, to be honest with you, that fight was never really in discussions with me, and neither was the Joe Calzaghe [fight]. I know that at some point they were trying to make some moves, Calzaghe’s trainer, his dad. But at the time they were talking, I was never thinking about going to super-middleweight.
“The only time that a fight at super-middleweight was realistic was three weeks before the Sergio Martinez fight. The reason for that was, it was a struggle getting down to 160 at that point. I had fought at middleweight from the age of 18 to 30, and I don’t know anyone else who did that. I wish, looking back, that I’d come in heavy, a pound or two, for the Martinez fight and just paid the fine. I had such a struggle making weight for the Martinez fight, I really did. It’s well-documented – doing the treadmill all day the day of the weigh-in, everything. But I was still winning that fight for nine rounds, before my body just shut down. I knew that was my last fight at middleweight anyway. But the Froch and Calzaghe fights were mentioned way before the Sergio Martinez fight. And since both fights were not going to happen, as at the time I had no interest in going up [in weight] – and I get it that a lot of fighters go up and down and win world titles in different weights today, and it’s a hell of an achievement – but I was the king of the middleweights, so why would I move up?
“So that’s why the Calzaghe and Froch fights never happened. Also, when the Froch fight came up again as a possibility, the ‘Super Six’ tournament was going, and, as far as they were in [to the tourney], there was no way I could join the ‘Super Six.’ So a lot of these fights were tied up and there were no meaningful fights at 168. And then the Andre Ward fight was mentioned and we were negotiating, but he hurt his shoulder and had to have surgery. At that point, I was 3-0 against so-so opposition. I had always said from the start of my career that I wouldn’t be fighting a long time. I had 12 years, with 32-plus fights.”
Q: You should be in The Hall of Fame…
K.P: “Well, thank you, Maybe one day. If I hang around long enough, who knows (laughs). It would be awesome, but if not, I’m happy with my career. But I do think I have a shot, with some of the guys I’ve seen go in. Maybe one day.”