Youngstown bout is stepping stone for Pavlik's career
The local boxer has added sparring partners to prepare for an opponent who has had 101 fights.
By JOHN KOVACH
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- Wanting to fight experience with experience, undefeated professional boxer Kelly Pavlik of Youngstown has been sparring with a variety of training partners to prepare for veteran Rob Bleakley of Mitchellville, Ind., in their Nov. 21 match-up.
"I'm going against a fighter who is really experienced," and by sparring with different partners "you get a chance to get a look at a variety of fighters with styles, so I can deal with whatever he throws," said Pavlik (10-0), who faces Bleakley in an eight-round bout at the Holiday Inn Metroplex in Liberty.
"With one [sparring partner], the only thing I will be working on is conditioning," Pavlik said. "I would not really be seeing different looks."
Card: The middleweight test against the much-traveled Bleakley, who already has had 101 fights with a 77-22-2 record, will highlight a six-bout card at the Holiday Inn Metroplex promoted by matchmaker Greg Augustine that is being called, "Bad Intentions."
Pavlik, a Lowellville High graduate who is trained by Jack Loew; managed by his father, Mike Pavlik; and promoted by Top Rank, has been sparring with four different fighters at his Southside Boxing Club headquarters, including area fighters E.T. Whitaker and Durrell Richardson.
"One kid came in from Pittsburgh, another from Columbus [Avelio Slate]. This was my first time sparring with Slate," Pavlik said. "Whitaker is from the Buckeye Elks. I have been working with him since I tuned pro.
"Durrell Richardson, I work with him about once a week a couple of rounds. I just started with him for this fight. Whitaker and Slate are probably about 12 pounds heavier, while Durrell is about my weight," Pavlik said.
Pivotal fight: Pavlik, ranked 14th in the U.S. and 32nd in the world, views this as a pivotal fight in his still-fledgling career, a chance to climb the ladder to more lucrative fights against better fighters.
"Yes, this is one of those door-opening fights," Pavlik said. "If I can go in and get him out early, that will show me a lot. This is a way that Top Rank will find out if I can fight higher-ranked fighters, how they know if I can advance."
Pavlik knows that he has to be well-prepared for Bleakley.
"He has fought against a lot of different fighters and fought a lot of rounds, so chances are he has a few tricks up his sleeve," Pavlik said.
"But that's why I am sparring with different partners, to learn some different [tactics] of my own."
Pavlik also expects to learn a lot about himself.
"I'm going to get a lot of experience in this fight," Pavlik said. "You learn something with every fight. No matter if you have 400 fights, you are always going to learn."
Unfamiliar: Other then Bleakley's experience and record, Pavlik doesn't know too much about him.
"I was supposed to fight him before in Indiana on Sept. 30, but something happened that he couldn't make it," Pavlik said. "But I haven't seen him fight. I don't know how big of a puncher he is, but I know that he can take a punch and go the rounds."
But that's the way it has been for Pavlik in his previous 10 fights.
"Some of them [opponents] I didn't know I was fighting until a couple of hours before the fight. Sometimes they change names at the last minute," Pavlik said.
If he can win, the reward may be a TV fight against a top fighter.
"In January, they are looking for a co-main event fight on ESPN2," Pavlik said. "If I win this fight, there is a possibility I can get in on that card."