Pavlik's dream coming true
Kelly Pavlik's win last Saturday made him the mandatory challenger for the WBC crown.
By JOHN KOVACH
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- It's good news: Kelly "The Ghost" Pavlik of Youngstown will be fighting for the WBC middleweight championship in his next fight.
That's the word from Pavlik and his trainer, Jack Loew, who made their long-awaited announcement Monday at the Southside Boxing Club, after Pavlik stopped Jose Luis Zertuche of Leon, Mexico, Saturday night in what turned out to be an elimination fight for the WBC middleweight title.
Pavlik said that as a result of his win over Zertuche, which came on an eighth-round TKO at The Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., in his first nationally-televised HBO fight, that he was moved up from No. 2 contender to No. 1 contender to become a mandatory challenger for the WBC title in his next bout.
Pavlik (30-0-27) and Loew said they expect that the WBC will announce Pavlik's championship fight either this week or next week, along with requesting purse bids from interested promoters, and also setting a deadline when those purse bids must be submitted.
Pavlik, who is promoted by Top Rank and CEO Bob Arum, replaced Ronald "Winky" Wright as the No. 1 contender to make Pavlik the mandatory challenger against champion Jermain Taylor, who has the option of fighting Pavlik or vacating his title.
Should Taylor choose not to risk a title fight against Pavlik and vacate his title, then the WBC will choose a championship opponent for Pavlik.
Pavlik's dream coming true
"This was an elimination bout for the WBC championship," said Pavlik, nursing a bad bruise around his right eye from the Zertuche fight, but otherwise in happy spirits because his long championship-bout wait will be ended. "It [now] is mandatory for me to fight for the title. If [Taylor] doesn't fight me, then someone else will fight me."
Pavlik, who said that his right-eye "shiner" was the worst he ever has suffered in the ring, said that the WBC will force Taylor to either defend his title or vacate, and within a certain time limit.
"They will either ship him or vacate him. If he vacates, whoever is right behind me will fight me. It could be Sam Soliman. The WBC will pick the opponent," said Pavlik, 24, a Lowellville High graduate, noting that his "black eye" limited his vision against Zertuche. "I couldn't see that well but there was no danger of stopping the fight."
Pavlik said it took awhile to get going against Zertuche, but that he finally began to find his rhythm in the fourth round. He decked Zertuche in the seventh round and also floored him in the eighth with a combination to finish him off with a TKO at 1:40.
Hopes Taylor takes fight
Pavlik said that he hopes Taylor accepts the title fight. "I hope [he does]. I'm not so sure. Maybe he will wait [to see if] I win the title [against someone else] and then fight me for more money," said Pavlik. But if he does that, "He will taking the heat from the critics that a true champion should take the fights. That's what we are hoping [will happen]."
Loew said that "money talks" in boxing and that Taylor may fight Pavlik if the winning purse bid submitted by a promoter is high enough for [Taylor] to risk losing to Pavlik, because Taylor, as champion, would get the advantage of a 70-30 split.
And Taylor, as champion, also could have a return-match clause inserted in his contract, meaning he could get two big-money fights with Pavlik.
"It depends on how much the promoters are willing to put up for the fight," said Loew.
But, "I would guarantee that Top Rank will win the bid to promote the fight. The other promoters won't want to step on Arum's toes to promote the fight."
And Loew said that even if Arum is out-bid by another promoter for the fight, "Arum really won't care because he still gets a share of Kelly's winnings, and it would be without any risk of promoting the fight."
Pavlik, however, doesn't want to think about boxing for awhile.
"I want to heal up and relax and spend some time with my family and baby and get my mind away from boxing," said Pavlik.