Taylor's title shot leaves Pavlik frustrated
YOUNGSTOWN -- Bernard Hopkins, the 40-year-old wonder of boxing, will have his middleweight championship belts up for grabs July 16 in Las Vegas against Jermain Taylor.
That fight has Youngstown's Kelly Pavlik asking, "Why not me?"
Pavlik started the pro game before Taylor and has a more imposing record. At 23 years old, Pavlik had an amateur record of 89-9 and is 25-0 with 22 knockouts as a professional.
Taylor, 26, is 23-0 with 17 KOs. He participated in the 2000 Summer Olympics, then turned pro in January 2001.
In the winter of 2000, Pavlik, then 17, fought the then 21-year-old Taylor at the Olympic Trials in Gainesville, Fla., losing a four-round decision by three points.
"I was a baby with boy strength and he was a man and I thought I gave him all he could handle," recalled Pavlik, who in his most recent fight knocked out Daniel Neal June 10 in the first round.
"I have done everything Top Rank has asked me to do and since they are the people who promote me, all I can do is what they ask of me," said Pavlik.
As a means of comparison, Pavlik fought Grady Brewer in June 2001, stopping him in the second round. Over a year later, Taylor had to go the distance against Brewer, winning a unanimous eight-round decision.
Winning them over
Taylor's supporters point to his impressive win over William Joppy that put him one fight away from his title shot with Hopkins, but Pavlik fought Ross Thompson (26-9-2 at that time) and won a unanimous decision.
Thompson, Edison Madrid and Anthony Ivory are the only fighters who have gone the distance with Pavlik. Of his 22 knockouts, 18 have come in the first two rounds.
Pavlik fought highly-regarded Dorian Beaupierre in March, who entered the fight with a 12-2-2 record. Pavlik, though, stopped Beaupierre in the second round. That was his last fight before the Neal bout.
"I took that fight [with Neal] because Top Rank told me to take it with the reasons being that I should have it to keep busy," said Pavlik, "and it was an obligation to them as they had just re-signed me.
"I don't know who is to blame for my situation, but I certainly am not satisfied with where I am as a professional fighter," he added. "I see Taylor fighting Hopkins for the title and feel that it should be me there.
"I am 25 and 0 with exceptional punching power and instead of it working for me, it seems to be working the other way."
One problem seems to be that many contenders appear to be ducking Pavlik.
A fight was set up for Pavlik with former welterweight champion Ike Quartey (35-2-1), whose losses are to Fernando Vargas and Oscar De La Hoya. HBO gave Lou DiBella, Quartey's promoter, another option and he took it. Kingsley Ikeke, who is 23-1 with his only loss to Tony Hanshaw in July 2001, was offered a bout by Top Rank with Pavlik and turned it down. Daniel Edouard, who was stopped by Taylor in the third round in February, was also offered a bout with Pavlik and has yet to reply.
Michigan middleweight Troy Rowland (24-2) was offered top money, as much as twice as much as Pavlik, for a bout and that was turned down.
There is a possibility that Rowland or Edouard could face Pavlik in a Showtime Pay Per View card in Las Vegas July 30. Pavlik has been told he will be fighting a contender in a 10-rounder.
"All I do is fight," said Pavlik. "I don't promote or manage myself and I can only do what I have control of. The way I look at things now is that even though I am 25 and 0, what happens July 30th is like another first step for me. I hope it is a big step forward.
"I don't blame Top Rank or any individual for anything in my career. If there is any fault it is with the networks [HBO and Showtime]. But performances by me will soon remedy that."
Jack Loew, who has trained Pavlik since he was an 11-year-old Junior Olympian, agonizes over the lack of movement for Pavlik.
"We can't force anyone to fight us and until Top Rank puts us in a position where someone has to fight us, we are stuck," said Loew.
"Since I turned pro I have shown a great deal of patience," added Pavlik, "but now I admit I am growing impatient."