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Veteran fighter gets 12-round decision

Published: Sun, October 19, 2008 @ 1:12 a.m.
  Fight NightFans

  Kelly Pavlik Fight Night


Vindicator sports staff

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — With his lip quivering but his face otherwise expressionless, Bernard Hopkins leaned up against the ropes following Saturday’s bout, staring at the press contingent as he prepared to celebrate one of the biggest victories — and best performances — of his Hall of Fame career.

Five feet away, Kelly Pavlik’s camp consoled the 26-year-old middleweight champion, whose rapid rise to the boxing world hit its first snag.

The official announcement was a technicality. On this night, the 43-year-old “Executioner” was too sharp, too savvy and too good at 170 pounds, earning a lopsided 12-round unanimous decision in front of 11,332 fans at Boardwalk Hall. The scores were 109-98, 108-99 and 107-100, with judge Alan Rubenstein giving Hopkins every round.

Pavlik may be the best fighter in the world at 160 pounds, but he was no match at 170.

“I just couldn’t get off tonight,” Pavlik said afterward. “I don’t know why. It wasn’t because of his slickness. I just couldn’t throw more than a single jab, couldn’t throw a double jab, couldn’t do anything I was used to doing.

“We’re going to go back to the drawing board. It just wasn’t me tonight. I’m going to be more comfortable going back to 160.”

After the bout, Hopkins walked over and encouraged Pavlik.

“I was a fan of yours before and I’m a fan of yours now; don’t let this fight destroy you,” Hopkins said, as Pavlik nodded. “You’re a great middleweight champion with a great heart.

“Keep your head up, keep fighting. You’ve got to learn one thing. You’ve got to learn that slickness that black fighters have and you can really be a great champion.”

Pavlik, wearing navy blue trunks with the logos of the Youngstown police and fire departments, never looked sharp and was never able to time up Hopkins’ punches, nor gauge the right distance to land his powerful straight right hands.

By the third round, Pavlik’s manager, Cameron Dunkin, knew it wasn’t his fighter’s night.

“He’s dead, he’s got nothing,” Dunkin said then. “It’s the weight. He’s a middleweight. That’s all.”

It’s the first professional loss for Pavlik (34-1, 30 KOs), whose last loss came during the Olympic trials as an 18-year-old amateur. For Hopkins (49-5-1, 32 KOs), the victory helps erase the bitter taste of two losses to Jermain Taylor and one to Joe Calzaghe

He told Pavlik he’d be rooting for him in the future.

“Keep your chin up; don’t give up,” he said. “If I have to go to your house and take you to the gym, I will.”

The only thing Pavlik could take away is he wasn’t knocked down, absorbing a lot of punches in the later rounds as blood spurted from his nose. Whenever he landed a decent jab or right to the body, Hopkins countered with a strong combination or a good overhand right.

The fight was similar to Pavlik’s rematch against Taylor in February in one regard: He didn’t have the same speed or snap on his punches with a heavier weight.

The fight statistics were gruesome.

Hopkins landed 172 of 530 punches (32 percent), including a whopping 49 percent of his power punches (148 of 304). Pavlik, who was widely expected to be the stronger and more active fighter, connected on just 23 percent of his punches (108 of 463), including 26 of his power punches (55 of 211).

Saturday’s crowd was the biggest to see a Pavlik bout — his previous best was last September’s bout against Taylor, which drew under 11,000 — and they sold 1,000 tickets on fight day.

The fight began at 11:40. Both fighters started tentatively — Hopkins probably held a small edge in that round — and the Philadelphia native took control in the second. Pavlik didn’t win a round on any of the judges’ cards until the 10th.

“I knew my style and quickness was underrated and was gonna give him problems,” said Hopkins.

The Pavlik camp seemed to know it wasn’t their night early. Between the 10th and 11th round, Pavlik’s wife, Samantha, rocked back and forth at her ringside seat, clasped her hands and appeared to say a small prayer. His trainer, Jack Loew, was expressionless. His corner seemed stunned. Hopkins, meanwhile, looked fresh and confident throughout.

“I think this was my best performance,” Hopkins said.

Before the fight began, Hopkins entered the ring wearing an executioner’s mask, pausing to make a throat-slashing gesture to the crowd just before he stepped through the ropes.

He wasn’t quite an executioner, but certainly executed.

On Saturday night, he really was the Ghostbuster.



1Tugboat(759 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Grump - I am not much of a boxing fan but I do at least know this: Bernard Hopkins has more tact than you.

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2cord53(38 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago


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3dmets(575 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Kelly needs to stay in the 160 weight. He is not a failure oldmangrump. Noone is perfect and people do lose. It was one fight, not the championship. As for switching trainers, why? If Kelly is comfortable and connects with his trainer, then he should stay with him. Kelly was just out of his element and it showed. He has a hard time with technical fighters. So I think a lesson was learned and sometimes it's good to lose cause is makes you more determined to never have that feeling again.

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4cityguy(109 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Wow, a failure huh Grump? 34 wins, 1 loss. Yeah a real failure--and you've accomplished what? 34 posts today on Vindy and Trib websites?

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5cord53(38 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago


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6cityguy(109 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

I don't think anyone said it was "good to lose" I was just pointing out that he is hardly a "failure".

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7cord53(38 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago


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8cord53(38 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago


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9shelleykd(1 comment)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Kelley, Thanks for a good fight. Even though it was a tough loss, you've given us thrills and pride throughout your entire career. Youngstown fans will continue to support you and you will continue to give us the excitement and thrills that you do.------------A Fan

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10dmets(575 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

cord53: He still has millions, and I was not talking about money here. I was stating that a lose can make you realize that you need to work that much harder, and fight that much harder. I did not mean it was a good loss. I ment sometime losing is a good lesson. I still support Kelly he is an amazing fighter.

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11cityguy(109 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Again Grump, and you've accomplished what?

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12markdtenn(8 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

whenever i read the vindicator post it always seems grump is throwing salt on wounds, what is with you, sorry that you lived your lfe and have nothing to show for it. why don't you just die already and leave good determined people alone already. kelly we are still behind you 100% and know you will be back stronger then ever, from all us youngstown natives who live out of state now but never forget were we are from. you still make us proud.

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13jglenellen(3 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

OldManGrump,what's your deal?Okay,first of all he didn't lose his belt,it was a non-title defense(if you actually support and follow Kelly you would have known that!!)so he IS still the champ,and second,he went up to 170 which everyone now knows was a mistake because 160 is where he is naturally suited for,and this was his first loss in his career,Grump!I mean,do you actually think his career is over?If you do,I will be the first to say you were wrong,buddy!

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14prodgodq(150 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Dear Grump:

It was a non-title fight.


I think it's time for you to move to Florida, Old Man.

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15Youngstown_Strong(91 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

2 things in response to Oldmangrump... 1st Kelly didn't lose his championship, he is still the Middleweight champ - he bumped up in weight to fight Hopkins-- 2nd, what are you talking about in regards to Boom Boom Mancini? last I heard he is still a millionaire and is now in the film industry- he never went bankrupt and is by no means a failure. in fact, he was just back in town a few months ago making a documentary about the pride of our town. maybe you should leave this area grump, obviously you don't like it here and aren't very proud of your town.

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16metz87(884 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

man I really wish he would have won but oh well,always another fight. can't win them all you know.

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17ses(2 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Kelly Pavlik and Jack Loew are Youngstown heros! The Hopkins fight was very disappointing, but the way Pavlik and Loew have made themselves so available to local media, charity etc have been wonderful. The way Kelly has represented us in the ring is tremendous! Even Saturday, when clearly it was not his day, he never quit and never went down. The greatest of champions lose fights! Ali, Leonard, Hagler, Tyson etc etc. Kelly won Huge fights against Miranda and Taylor. He has acheived more than any Youngstown fighter ever! Let's not dog he or Loew now! They will get back to 160 and rule the Middleweight division! This is when they need their fans (us) the most. Let's hope that Pavlik and Loew remain together as our local team and let's stay behind them 100% as they continue to positively represent our city!!! Youngstown should remain very proud of the Pavlik team!

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18cord53(38 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

i live in cincinnati but my heart is still in y town where i was born and raised

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19metz87(884 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

yes this setbck is just that,only ne little bump down the road to becoming a champion.

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20metz87(884 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

yeah that movie is pretty darn good. message never give up.

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21Ytownnative(1036 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

I never understood why good fighters always want to move up in weight class. He is the best in his class why change?

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22jfuze0905(72 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Why so many excuses? How about "he [Hopkins] was a better fighter than me [Pavlik] and he out-boxed me."

Well, I guess making excuses is much easier.

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23prodgodq(150 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

The chances of any professional fighter remaining undefeated in this era of boxing are very slim. The way I see it: If he had to lose a fight, this would have been the one. It was non-title and shouldn't affect his middleweight standing. The question wasn't whether he was eventually going to lose a fight. The question is: How will be bounce back? He hasn't lost a fight in a long time.
So if he can take the loss in stride and learn from it, then he should be fine.

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24Ken(153 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Kelly was not sharp from the outset...watching him you could tell that! In addition to his mentioned illnesses and injuries, I am wondering how much the Peace Race took out of him! As a former distance runner, I know it takes your body some time to recover after a race as long as the Peace Race. It's not like road work. It's also possible that Kelly "over trained" for this one. But, he'll be back!!

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25clayor(281 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Job well done, Kelly, you give Y-Town hope for the future. Nothing to be ashamed of, you did your best, that's all that counts. Most of us are proud of you and what you do for the city. They don't look beyond the gloves. You are one class act!

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26Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Kelly has brought fame to the Valley. Most of us in the Valley are proud of what he has done. So he lost a fight,you learn and go on. We still support him 100% !

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27malaska46(2 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Old Man Grump, you seem to know alot about professional sports and life. What have you done in your life besides sit around Y-town and talk trash about other people that have worked hard and achieved things in their life? Are you bitter because you never had the guts or talent to put it all on the line for something that you loved? You should be proud of Kelly for bringing glory to an otherwise depressing Youngstown landscape.

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28sinthor(87 comments)posted 5 years, 10 months ago

Why would youngstown put all its hope on a bum like kelly or boom boom? We need more than these two loosers to make y-town look good! Youngstown has bigger fish to fry.

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