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BOXING Short Bleakleyvs. tall Pavlik



Published: Wed, November 21, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The boxers will pit contrasting sizes and experience in tonight's headliner at the Holiday Inn Metroplex.

By BILL SULLIVAN

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

YOUNGSTOWN -- After completing over 100 professional boxing matches, there's little left in the ring to surprise Rob Bleakley of Mitchell, Ind.

Bleakley (77-22-2) will meet Youngstown's Kelly Pavlik in the main event of a boxing card tonight at the Holiday Inn Metroplex.

There are still some general admission tickets available, but all reserved seats for the show are sold. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the bouts begin an hour later.

Bleakley, 31, stands "about 5-foot-8 or 5-9" and said Pavlik will present a challenge at 6-foot-3.

"I heard he's actually a pretty good fighter," Bleakley said of Pavlik. "He's a real tall kid who is a pretty good hitter.

"But, I've fought everybody. I've fought some pretty good guys."

Opponents: Bleakley quickly rattled off a list of some of the top middleweights in the world he's faced, including Wilfredo Rivero and Bruno Girard, who stands at 6-3.

Bleakley also faced Mario Velt (6-4) in Germany. Velt, ranked No. 1 by the WBO at the time, won an eight-round decision.

"It's not much fun fighting a man that's that tall," Bleakley said of Pavlik. "He has a distinct advantage."

Bleakley was ranked 11th by the USBA at one time, and has been in the training camps of many great fighters, working as a sparing partner.

He's not worried much about meeting Pavlik in his hometown.

"That's all I've ever done," Bleakley said. "It really doesn't mean anything to me."

Road fighter: Bleakley said he has had about 20 fights in his career in front of his home crowd, and the rest have been on the road, usually "fighting the big cheese from there.

"I fight the gun slingers. I provide the opposition," Bleakley said.

Pavlik has knocked out all 10 of his opponents, so Bleakley said he will have to "think defense first.

"It's something to take into consideration," he said of the 10 KOs. "I want to extend him; make him go some rounds."

Expectation: Bleakley figured that Pavlik has matured past the early part of a boxing career, and now is ready for tougher opponents.

"A lot of guys can look good early in their careers," he said. "Now he's at a point in his career where he will have to pass some tests."

Immediately following the fight, Bleakley will be on the road home to spend the holiday with his month-old daughter and his son and mother who are coming in from Iowa.




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