By Joe Scalzo
The boxers will settle their differences June 7 in Atlantic City.
YOUNGSTOWN — Youngstown middleweight Kelly Pavlik has grown accustomed to being dismissed by his opponents, so when his latest challenger, Gary Lockett, predicted a knockout victory, Pavlik did what he always does — shrugged it off.
Pavlik’s trainer, however, is a little more outspoken.
“We give this kid the opportunity of a lifetime and he starts talking [trash],” said Jack Loew. “Unbelievable.”
Here’s the story. Lockett (aka “The Rocket Man”) is trained by Enzo Calzaghe, whose son, Joe, recently earned a unanimous decision over 43-year-old Bernard Hopkins in a light heavyweight bout. Afterward, Lockett called the win an “inspiration to me.”
“He went to the States and did British boxing proud and I’ll do the same in June,” said Lockett, a Wales native who will make his U.S. debut on June 7 against Pavlik. “Not many people have heard of me in the U.S., but once I’ve beaten Pavlik, I’ll be a household name.
“I recognize that I’ll have to be at my very best to win the fight, but I’ve seen a few weaknesses in Pavlik’s style that I believe I can exploit. He’s been tagged before and with my power, I’ve got a great chance of knocking him out.”
Lockett’s comments aren’t quite on the level of Pavlik’s last two opponents — Edison Miranda said he’d hurt Pavlik so bad he wouldn’t make it to the post-fight press conference and Jermain Taylor didn’t start crediting Pavlik until after his second loss — but they were enough to irritate Loew.
“I see where Lockett has become inspired by Joe Calzaghe’s victory over Bernard Hopkins in his U.S. debut and is predicting the same result against Kelly,” Loew said last month. “Maybe Enzo Calzaghe can teach Lockett to slap like a girl — just like Joe.
“You can get away with that style of fighting against a 43-year-old geezer, but don’t try that against Kelly. That’s how rockets crash and burn. Kelly is having a camp that is second to none. We didn’t work this hard to win the title just to have Lockett and his troubadour trainer take it away from us. Kelly is going to launch Lockett back to Wales ... without a plane.”
When asked about the comments this week, Loew said it wasn’t just a response to Lockett, but also to disparaging comments about Pavlik made by Enzo Calzaghe and by hosts of others on the Internet.
“Why should I keep my mouth shut when everyone else is allowed to say whatever they want?” he said. “Kelly is the most humble guy in the world. He’d never rip another trainer, let alone another 5-foot-9 guy [Enzo Calzaghe] or whatever he is who’s been ripping our kid to shreds.”
Anyone who knows Loew knows bluntness is part of his persona. He’s the same guy who expressed his delight when Taylor switched back to his first trainer, Ozell Nelson, before the rematch. Loew’s response? “I’m thankful he’s back because he’s the one who taught Jermain all his bad habits.”
Loew has never been one to back down from a fight and he has no plans to end the war of words anytime soon. Regarding the upcoming press conference for the fight, Loew said, “I can’t wait to get on that podium.”
Pavlik started training in mid-April and is ahead of schedule, according to Loew.
“We got more out of the first two weeks than we ever did before,” he said. “He’s pushed himself even harder than usual.”
Pavlik started sparring this week and is on pace to get to his fighting weight of 160 pounds. He fought at 164 for his rematch with Jermain Taylor in February.
“Training’s going good,” Pavlik said. “I’ve been doing it for [more than] three weeks and I feel great. We got all the soreness out a week ago.”