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BOXING Garden party awaits Pavlik



Published: Tue, April 19, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Youngstown boxer's next bout will be in Madison Square Garden.

By JOE SCALZO

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

BOARDMAN -- Youngstown native Kelly "The Ghost" Pavlik isn't sure who he's fighting next, but he does know where.

And when the site is New York's Madison Square Garden, that's all you need to know.

"They say once you've fought in the Garden, you've fought anywhere," Pavlik's longtime trainer, Jack Loew, said at Monday's Curbstone Coaches luncheon. "Hopefully the next time we talk to you guys, he'll be the middleweight champ."

To do so, Pavlik will have to be patient. Bernard Hopkins holds all three middleweight titles -- WBC, WBA and IBF -- and it's a safe bet that Hopkins' handlers don't view a fight with Pavlik as a good idea.

"Sometimes it's just a bad career move," said Pavlik, who will face an unnamed opponent at the Garden on June 11. "He's not going to take a chance fighting some up-and-comer when he can make millions fighting Felix Trinidad or Oscar De La Hoya."

Defense requirement

Hopkins, however, will lose the belts if he doesn't defend them in a specified period of time, which will open up opportunities for newcomers such as Pavlik to get a title shot.

"Right now, I'm looking forward to June 11," Pavlik said. "Hopefully by July 30, I'll have a title elimination bout and hopefully within a year, Hopkins will retire or lose a couple of the belts."

Pavlik (24-0, 21 knockouts) will resume training next week and within a few weeks he'll be working out six to seven hours a day to get ready for the June bout.

Like a lot of hard punchers, Pavlik has battled hand injuries his whole career. That remains a concern.

"My hands are fine right now," he said. "I don't really think about it. I don't want to jinx myself."

Youngstown date

Loew has already had talks with Youngstown officials about holding a fight in the new Convocation Center on either Nov. 18 or Nov. 19, with hopes of drawing as many as 6,000 fans.

"We could have a title shot here very soon," Loew said.

Hopkins is still fighting at age 40, but Pavlik has no intention of staying in boxing that long. He said he'll probably stay at 160 pounds for another few years, then possibly fight a few bouts in the heavyweight ranks.

"As long as my body stays healthy and my hands are OK, I'll keep boxing," he said. "Maybe four more years or so. I'm not going to stay in the sport. You take a chance of getting hurt or taking on extra injuries that are not necessary."

Pavlik almost had a chance to be on Sylvester Stallone's boxing reality show, "The Contender," but things never worked out between Stallone's people and Pavlik's agent.

"It was brought up, but I'm not sure why it didn't work out," he said. "It would have been nice to be on it."




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