Kelly Pavlik's national image will be enhanced by appearing on a world championship boxing card on Sept. 14.
By JOHN KOVACH
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
Undefeated welterweight Kelly Pavlik of Youngstown is inching closer to the big-time in the world of professional boxing.
Pavlik (14-0, with 14 KOs), promoted by Top Rank, is being billed in one of four bouts that are part of Top Rank's world championship card on the HBO Pay Per View cable television network.
The show, called "Bad Blood," is set for Sept. 14, at the Mandalay Bay Event Center in Las Vegas, and features the world super welterweight championship battle between Oscar De La Hoya and Fernando Vargas (12 rounds).
Both fighters already are world champions. De La Hoya (34-2, 27 KOs) of East Los Angeles is the WBC super welterweight king, while Vargas (22-1, 20 KOs) of Oxnard, Calif., is the WBA super welterweight title-holder.
Pavlik was shifted
Pavlik, 20, one of Top Rank's leading prospects, originally was slated to fight the previous night on an ESPN2 fight card at Mandalay featuring Julio Diaz vs. James Crayton.
However, Top Rank chief Bob Arum shifted Pavlik to the "Bad Blood" card to give him more exposure to the media although there is no guarantee his bout will be televised.
"Kelly shows a lot of promise," Arum said. "He's an exceptional puncher and has very solid technical skills. Also, he's extremely popular in Ohio."
Bruce Trampler, Top Rank's chief matchmaker, said Pavlik was moved to the De La Hoya card to give him more visibility with the press and public.
"Originally, we had him scheduled for the ESPN shows before. But he had four ESPN shows before," Trampler said. "Arum said to put him on the big show because there will be a lot of writers there [and] because he will have exposure."
Arum likes Pavlik
Trampler said that, "Bob Arum is real high on Kelly and wanted him in that [Sept. 14] show when the big media people would be there."
He added that Arum tabbed Pavlik for this show "mainly because he is an Ohioan."
Trampler said Pavlik's six-round bout against an opponent yet to be named, is not part of the scheduled televised segment of the show.
"The fight will be taped and will shown if Pay Per View needs the telecast," he said.
For example, it could be aired if there were a quick knockout that created air time to be filled.
All this attention Arum is giving to Pavlik looms as a good sign of bigger fights to come.
According to Lee Samuels, the Top Rank publicist, Pavlik is "kind of entering the big time" because he was moved "to the big show."
Pavlik's hand injured
Jack Loew, who trains Pavlik at the Southside Boxing Club, said that his fighter is nursing an injury to his right hand, but will be ready to go.
Loew said Pavlik injured the hand sparring before his last fight about a month ago, and then re-injured it in that fight. He just recently returned to the gym after about a month layoff.
"Actually, we went to the doctor and nothing is broken. He has swelling in the muscle and it's just a matter of it going down," Loew said.
The trainer said if Pavlik's right hand is not 100 percent by Sept. 14, he will just have to limit the use of it in the fight, something he did in his last fight after hurting it.
"He is ambidextrous and can go with either hand," said Loew, noting that in his last fight, "He probably threw [rights] about six or seven times."
Loew said moving Pavlik to the more prestigious De La Hoya card for more visibility shows that Top Rank is serious about advancing Pavlik's career.
"It will improve his image being among these people," Loew said.
He also said Top Rank plans to have Pavlik stay over after the fight, and then take him to Los Angeles to have a top medical specialist look at his injured right hand.
Loe said all this attention and special treatment is "a big indication of what they have in store for this kid."
Also on the "Bad Blood" card, Miguel Cotto (11-0, 9 KOs) of Caguas, Puerto Rico, will take on John Brown (23-9, 11 KOs) from Atlantic City, N.J., in a 10-round super-lightweight skirmish.
In the other bout, Daniel Alicea (27-4-2, 20 KOs) of Santurce, Puerto Rico, will defend his NABF super featherweight championship against Nate Campbell (21-0, 19 KOs) of Jacksonville, Fla., in a 12-round bout.