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BOXING



Published: Fri, August 3, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



By JOHN KOVACH

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

YOUNGSTOWN -- Going into a fight, boxer Kelly Pavlik of Youngstown admits he doesn't know much about his opponents, including Francisco Valenzuela, whom he will face Saturday night in Las Vegas.

"That's kind of the way I like it," said Pavlik, who carries a perfect 9-0 professional record into the 154-pound bout on the under-card of an HBO-televised show at the Mandalay Bay Events Center that starts at 10 p.m.

"When you watch a tape of a fight, he may have a bad day and look horrible," Pavlik said of an opponent. "And then I might train for what I saw. But when I fight him, he may come out totally different, and you prepared for the wrong thing.

"I like to assess the fighters when I go in the first round."

Pavlik's fight with Valenzuela (3-3, 2 KOs), from Sonora, Mexico, is one of four bouts complementing the main event between heavyweights Wladimir Klitschko (36-1, 33 KOs) and Charles Shufford (16-1, 8 KOs).

TV chances slim: HBO probably will begin coverage of the show in progress, so Pavlik's chances of fighting on TV are slim.

"The under-card fights are on first. I probably will be about the second bout. The chances will be better that I will be on TV if the preliminary fights are longer," explained Pavlik, a Lowellville High graduate who is trained by Jack Loew at the Southside Boxing Club, and sponsored by Top Rank.

Pavlik has been training diligently and believes he's ready, although he is nursing an injured thumb.

"It hasn't been bothering me. It healed and then I re-aggravated it. It feels pretty good [although] it's not 100 percent," said Pavlik, who is pleased with his selection of punches recently.

"I have been selecting my punches a lot more and making each punch count, but at the same time I wanted to get back to my boxing more with a lot of my slip movements."

Counter-punch: In other words, "Not so much prancing around, but when he takes his shots that I'm able to counter-punch, to take advantage of what might develop after he takes his punches.

"The more I make him miss, the better the chances that he will be left wide open for a counter punch."

Two of Pavlik's big assets are his jab, because of his long reach, and his repertoire of punches.

"My offense is probably my whole arsenal. I work the jab well, but there are other punches that have been helping me," said the versatile fighter, who will have his father, Mike, by his side in Las Vegas.

Jab is weapon: Pavlik's jab also is a valuable defensive weapon by keeping his opponent at a distance, but Pavlik is not one-dimensional in this regard.

"My jab is able to fend off opponents, but also good head movement helps," he said.

Loew said Pavlik has to depend on Top Rank to match him with comparable opponents.

"Top rank picks these opponents. We really don't know too much about his opponents. We have to trust Top Rank," said Loew, who predicts Pavlik's opponents will improve with each bout.

"I think you'll see his opponents definitely are getting tougher," said Loew, who believes Pavlik will be up to the task. "He is learning to take his time boxing. His jab is his best weapon. It controls everything. It's his offense and defense."

kovach@vindy.com

LAS VEGAS -- Kelly Pavlik of Youngstown remained undefeated as a professional boxer by disposing of Mario Lopez of Mexico on a second-round TKO Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

Pavlik, a Lowellville High graduate, floored Lopez in the first round of their 154-pound match-up with a short right hand. Then Pavlik finished matters in the second round at 1:45 with a left hook. Lopez fell to 3-2-1.

Trained by Jack Loew at the Southside Boxing Club and sponsored by Top Rank, Pavlik is scheduled to fight again in September, with the date, opponent and site to be announced.

with , who iumpoved to 10-0



d as he dispoksd second roun knock TKO over Mario Lopez from Mexico.

1:45.

He floored jiomin the foirstg round with a short rfight hand and then he finished him off in the secoind round at 1:45 with a left hook, to extend his record to 10-0.

with a left hook.

10-0, 3-2-1.

fighting next month.

septmemebr.

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