YOUNGSTOWN -- Music and boxing have kept one local friendship strong, culminating in a song, "Point Blank."
Local boxer Kelly Pavlik (28-0, 25 KOs) will walk out to the song before his fight against Leonard Pierre (18-2, 13 KOs) Nov. 2 at the Chevrolet Centre. It will mark the debut of the song, by Tilt 360.
Tilt 360 consists of lead singer and songwriter Bill Smaltz, Drew Salzano (bass), Jay Miller (guitar) and Heather Jurina (drums).
Smaltz and Pavlik have been friends for years. They met training at Southside Boxing Club. Smaltz (24-1 amateur, 3-0 professional) was 16 and Pavlik was 11 or 12, they believe, though they are unsure of their exact ages at the time.
They bonded not only through boxing, but also through music, both avidly listening to hard rock and heavy music.
"He boxed for a long time, and I started following his music," Pavlik said.
"People don't know that side of him, but Kelly's a musician. He comes to our shows; he's part of the local music scene," Smaltz said.
As the two grew older, they weren't in touch as much, Smaltz said, largely because of his time in the Army, during which he continued boxing. In fact, Smaltz said, Pavlik's first career fight happened on Smaltz' card. But Smaltz quit fighting after doctors told him he had permanent damage to his jaw.
Boxing and performing are very similar, Smaltz said.
"All eyes are on you. But there's more pressure as a fighter," he said. "People don't see the work that you put in. You're either going to win, or you're going to lose."
Smaltz said the idea to create a boxing-inspired song for him to walk out to before a fight came about after he and Pavlik were talking one night.
Smaltz said, "We were talking about it one night, and we were like, 'Why don't we rise together? Why don't we help each other?'"
The two men realized they could reach a larger audience and draw more people in by cross-marketing. Smaltz said the plan for Pavlik to walk out to a Tilt 360 song and for the band's followers to learn the song was written for Pavlik could potentially draw new people into boxing, or the local music scene, if they hadn't been a part before.
"It's cool breaking into a new little scene and atmosphere. Especially in boxing," Pavlik said.
"He's bringing us into the sports world; we're bringing him into the entertainment world. It's cool to be helping each other out as far as finding different audiences, different crowds," Smaltz said. "We're both right at that breaking point [of career success}. We're rising together."
Smaltz said his experience in the ring helped create the perfect boxing song for Pavlik.
"I actually wrote 'Point Blank' about my fighting," Smaltz said. "But when Kelly asked me to do something to walk out to, I thought I'd write it for him too. I incorporated a lot of his fighting into the song."
"It's a pretty good song. Usually you don't hear rock songs for boxing," Pavlik said.
The song includes lyrics such as, "You're in my range/I've got a clean shot/Yeah, right at you/Let's see if you can watch my feet."
"Yeah, I was thinking a little bit about Mohammed Ali there, too," Smaltz said with a laugh.
Another line in the song that rings true for both men is a Johnny Cash reference.
"Point Blank -- I walk the line," Smaltz sings.
The song lyric, Smaltz said, refers to the commitment fighters need to have while training. Smaltz said he and Pavlik have had different struggles in life while pursuing their careers.
"Boxers are on the edge of a cliff, walking a line. You have to live your life differently when you're a fighter," Smaltz said. "It took me awhile to figure that out, and I think that's true for Kelly."
Tilt 360, Smaltz, formed eight years ago. Although they broke up three years ago, they started playing shows together again with a new guitarist -- Miller -- one year ago.
"They're a pretty good band, and they need a little support, backing," Pavlik said. "I want to do that for them."
Pavlik said he saw more of a future in the song than just using it for himself. He said they have submitted the song to be used in a popular line of video games.
"We're hoping to get it on EA Sports. All of their games just have rap, and you know, not everyone who plays those games listens to rap," Pavlik said. "And it's a pretty neat song. I think it's good enough to make it."
And Smaltz saw future in Pavlik's career.
"Finally, I think he's gonna be the person that's gonna lift up Youngstown," Smaltz said.
Frank Silver, formerly of local band Ivet, recorded "Point Blank" in Harrisburg, Pa.
Listen to Tilt 360's "Point Blank" by clicking here.