Maybe Bernard Hopkins and Sergio Martinez did more damage to Kelly Pavlik than anyone suspected? Or maybe it was his friends Jack Daniels, Johnny Walker and Jose Cuervo who left him so dazed and confused that he no longer knows who he is.
What other conclusions can one arrive at after Pavlik’s rambling interviews this week following his decision to pull out of Saturday night’s “ShoBox: The Next Generation” main event against journeyman Darryl Cunningham?
The fact that the former middleweight champion found himself headlining a cable television show dedicated to developing fighters of the future rather than on some grand stage in Las Vegas or New York should have been a clue to how far he’d fallen. But when you have no clue, you end up reacting to events more like Inspector Clouseau than Sherlock Holmes and that is exactly what Pavlik did.
Railing at his promoter, Bob Arum, and his manager, Cameron Dunkin, Pavlik said he was “tired of being a puppet” and was “still one of the biggest names in boxing.” Maybe in Youngstown he is but in boxing Kelly Pavlik, through his own fault to great extent, has become yesterday’s news since being badly beaten by Sergio Martinez and then disappearing for 13 months after repeatedly pulling out of a fight with Paul Williams because of a staph infection before finally entering rehab to combat a battle with alcohol, a battle which maybe isn’t going so well.
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His return in May resulted in a lack luster win on points over Alfonso Lopez and led to scheduling another tune-up fight against a 36-year-old journeyman southpaw in an attempt to prepare Pavlik for a proposed November super middleweight title fight in Canada with rising star Lucian Bute, for which Pavlik would be paid $1.35 million plus $25,000 in training expenses.
When Pavlik learned the economic details of those two fights it led him to conclude Arum was trying to “cash in” on him, putting him in a fight with Bute that would be difficult to win for half what he alleged former super middleweight champion Mikkel Kessler had been offered.
Pavlik then listed past purses of $2.5 million for journeyman middleweight title challenger Gary Lockett and $3 million for Bernard Hopkins, comparing them unfavorably with the projected $1.35 million for Bute and said, “How does that happen?”
Well, Kelly, one way it happens is to let a then 44-year-old man like Hopkins slap you silly in a catch-weight fight above the middleweight limit while embarrassing you by exposing just how primitive your skills really were.
Another way is to follow that up a year and a half later by being beaten to a bloody pulp in a middleweight title unification bout against Martinez in which Pavlik looked like he hadn’t learned a thing from his lopsided loss to Hopkins.
A third way is to make one excuse after another for pulling out of an oft-scheduled but never contested fight with Paul Williams, as Pavlik did by claiming a staph infection in his hand had become all but incurable and then see Martinez destroy Williams with one punch.
The last way is to follow the Martinez loss with a 13-month layoff punctuated by a well-publicized drift into alcohol abuse that ended up sending the former champion into rehab.
“How does that happen?” Pavlik asked about the downward drift of his purses. Well, now you know.
Arum denied Inter-Box, who promotes Kessler, ever offered the Dane $3 million to fight Bute or that his promotional company was looking to cash out on a former champion who had become damaged goods at 29. Whether they were or not however was immaterial because all Pavlik had to do is what one of the biggest names in boxing should do in such a circumstance. All he had to do
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