Jump to content

Kelly Pavliks back


Recommended Posts

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Kelly Pavlik wants more than a victory when his long road back to the ring concludes Saturday with his title defence against Miguel Espino.


"He needs a knockout," Pavlik's trainer, Jack Loew said. "We have to go in there and dominate this kid and let everyone know we're back."


Pavlik (35-1, 31 KOs) is the reigning WBC and WBO middleweight champion, but his last 14 months have been littered with disappointing performances, two cancellations and a severe staph infection in his hand that left him hospitalized.


The fighter known as "The Ghost" has been nearly invisible since losing to Bernard Hopkins on Oct. 18, 2008. His only other fight was a win against Marco Antonio Rubio in February. Even his promoter, Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, said Pavlik didn't look good in the victory.


Now that Pavlik is finally healthy, Espino (20-2-1, 9 KOs) represents a chance for the lanky Youngstown native to re-establish himself as an explosive puncher.


"You hate to put that kind of pressure on him, but a knockout would help," Arum said. "He's had a terrible year. People really are wondering how good he still is. Hopefully this fight will answer it."


Pavlik twice tried to postpone fights with Paul Williams because of the staph infection in a finger on his left hand. After postponing it once, he wanted to push it back again from Dec. 5 until January or February. Williams walked away, leaving Pavlik to continue training for a return to the ring in early 2010.


But faced with either fighting or possibly being stripped of his belts, Pavlik hurriedly plucked the little-known Espino and dropped him into this title defence last month. He crammed a typical eight-week training schedule into five weeks and will face Espino two weeks after he was supposed to fight Williams.


The 10-month layoff is the longest of Pavlik's career. His return will come against a boxer best known for his brief stint on the first season of the television reality show "The Contender." Espino's loss on the show, a first-round knockout in 2004, is still his last.


Pavlik holds a decided physical advantage. At six-foot-three and 160 pounds, he measured in Friday four inches taller and one pound heavier than Espino. His 78-inch reach is also eight inches longer.


"A victory changes my life," Espino said of Saturday night. "It'll bring bigger and better things win, lose or draw. But winning? I'm an instant millionaire, no doubt."


Espino is forced to fight in Pavlik's hometown on the campus of Youngstown State University. He arrived this week with no place to train - and no gloves, either.


With gyms scarce around town, Top Rank asked Loew to allow Espino to use his gym when Pavlik wasn't training. Loew grudgingly agreed.


"A little against my better judgment," Loew said. "I was asked to do a favour and I did it. But I can tell you, it's not as warm for them as it is for Kelly, that's for sure."


Pavlik isn't crazy about the arrangement, but he has it better. When Pavlik is working out, the gym is empty. Loew said Espino must share the gym "with about 30 other kids."


Saturday's fight is the main event of a pay-per-view card that spans two countries. Lightweights Humberto Soto and Jesus Chavez begin the night in Mexico, followed by WBA Interim Bantamweight champion Neomar Cermeno defending his title against Alejandro Valdez.


The broadcast then shifts to the Beeghly Center in Ohio for NABF Super Welterweight champion Willie Lee's title defence against Vanes Martirosyan, which precedes Pavlik and Espino.


Pavlik acknowledges he needs a strong showing against a heavy underdog.


"After the long layoff, if we go in there and look sharp and be dominant, that's a big step," Pavlik said. "I've had plenty of knockouts, so it's not like I need one real bad. I just need to hands-down win the fight and be impressive in the performance. Sharp, crisp punches and winning every round. That will be a good night."





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...