No ESPY, no problem


By Joe Scalzo

Joe Calzaghe said Pavlik may be in his future

Kelly Pavlik’s first matchup with Joe Calzaghe ended in a draw.

Their next battle could come in the ring.

Pavlik and Calzaghe both lost out to Floyd Mayweather for the “Fighter of the Year” ESPY, which was awarded Wednesday night in Los Angeles.

It was the second straight year Mayweather has won the award.

Still, Pavlik may be headed toward a bigger prize as Calzaghe on Wednesday opened the door for an eventual bout with the South Side native.

Calzaghe (45-0) told The Times that, contrary to published reports, he would not relinquish his WBO super middleweight title and would consider fighting Pavlik at 168 pounds after his light heavyweight bout in September with Roy Jones Jr.

“There is no way I am going to give up my WBO title,” Calzaghe told the paper. “I do not have a mandatory [challenger] at the moment, so I do not have to defend my title. If I beat Jones, I might move back down to super middleweight to face Kelly Pavlik.”

Pavlik’s trainer, Jack Loew, called the report “great news,” but said Calzaghe’s decision to avoid Pavlik in September means he might have to wait his turn. Pavlik is tentatively scheduled to fight Sept. 27 in Atlantic City, most likely against WBO welterweight champion Paul Williams, and Pavlik is expected to fight IBF middleweight champion Arthur Abraham in early 2009.

“We offered it to him [Calzaghe] this time and he said no,” Loew said. “He backed out of fighting us and put his tail between his legs so he could fight an easier fight.

“It’d be a great fight, but he needs to realize that we’ll probably be fighting Abraham after this, so I don’t know how long he wants to sit around and wait.”

Calzaghe’s longtime promoter, Frank Warren, had been in serious talks with Pavlik’s promoter, Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, after Pavlik’s third-round knockout of Gary Lockett last month. But Calzaghe fired Warren, opting to fight the 39-year-old Jones instead.

Calzaghe, 36, had been hinting that Jones may be his last opponent. He has held the WBO title for more than 10 years and has successfully defended it 21 times.

“I still feel young,” he told The Times. “It all depends on how I perform against Jones. There’s a good possibility I may fight on. I need fights that motivate me. [Mikkel] Kessler motivated me, [Bernard] Hopkins motivated me, Jones motivates me. And Kelly Pavlik has been hanging around.”

A Pavlik-Calzaghe bout has the potential to be huge for boxing — and for the fighters’ legacies.

“Kelly wants to fight the best,” Loew said. “We’re not ducking anyone.”

Pavlik was one of five finalists for the ESPY, which is the equivalent of the Academy Awards of sports. Other finalists were female boxer Holly Holm and mixed martial arts fighter Georges St. Pierre.

Pavlik was nominated on the strength of his 2007 knockout wins over Edison Miranda in May and Jermain Taylor in September, the latter earning him the WBC and WBO middleweight belts. Pavlik also knocked out contender Jose Luis Zertuche in January.

Mayweather, who retired from boxing last month, also won “Fighter of the Year” from most boxing outlets after a 2007 that saw him knock out Ricky Hatton and earn a split decision over Oscar De La Hoya, defending his WBC welterweight title both times. Neither Pavlik nor Calzaghe can match Mayweather for name recognition, due in no small part to Mayweather’s recent stint on the TV show “Dancing with the Stars.”

ESPN will air the ESPY awards at 9 p.m. Sunday.

In other news, Loew said he is finalizing plans to buy a 4,000 square foot building on the city’s South Side to serve as the future home of the Southside Boxing Club. Loew’s current building is only about 875 square feet.

“It’s gonna be nice,” said Loew, who signed the papers on Friday.

The building, which is located at 1714 Market Street between Willis Avenue and Chalmers Avenue, most recently served as the home of Automotive Finish Repair. Loew purchased the building for $60,000 and said the city may give him the empty lot next door to serve as the gym’s parking lot.

Loew estimated he’ll need at least $15,000 just to equip it and will use the money raised in the recent Johnny Swanson Memorial Benefit to buy equipment for his fighters. He’s also planning a boxing show on Aug. 15, which will also help serve that purpose.

scalzo@vindy.com

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