The holdup? The potential opponent, Paul Williams, wants more of the gate.
By JOHN BASSETTI
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN — As negotiations for an Oct. 3 world middleweight championship title bout between Kelly Pavlik and Paul Williams near an end, there’s only one problem: Will the negotiations lead to a resolution or a breakdown?
Pavlik trainer Jack Loew confirmed that Williams is the “top dog” on Pavlik’s list, but he doesn’t know much beyond that.
“I know negotiations are going on and we’re definitely trying to fight Williams on Oct. 3. but, beyond that, I have no idea,” Loew said Friday.
“He’s in the forefront,” the WBC-WBO champion’s trainer said. “Williams is the guy we want to fight. It’s the fight all people want us to fight and one Kelly chose. Kelly wants the top dog.”
That means that previously reported potential opponents such as Sergio Mora, Felix Sturm, Karoly Balzsay and Winky Wright are unlikely to materialize.
The report of negotiations with Williams first surfaced on BoxingScene.com, which detailed several financial scenarios.
BoxingScene said that, as of now, both fighters would receive $1.75 million, with Pavlik receiving a percentage of the gate.
However, BoxingScene.com said that promoter Dan Goossen, acting for Williams, is countering with a $2.5 million demand — and a better percentage of the gate than previously offered.
Pavlik (35-1-0) hasn’t fought since defending his titles against Marco Antonio Rubio at the Chevy Centre in February.
Williams is currently the WBO’s interim champion at 154 pounds.
“He’s coming up to fight for Kelly’s titles,” Loew said of the light middleweight fighting for Pavlik’s belts at 160 pounds.
Loew doesn’t minimize the threat posed by the 28-year-old Williams.
The 6-foot-1 1/2 Williams, nicknamed “The Punisher,” last fought on April 11 when he earned a unanimous decision over Wright (51-4-1). At the time, Williams (37-1-0) weighed 157 and Wright 159.
Like Pavlik, Wright lost a 12-round unanimous decision to Bernard Hopkins in July, 2007. Pavlik (35-1-0) lost last October. Both Pavlik and Wright fought B-Hop at 170.
Loew said he’s 99 percent sure a Pavlik-Williams fight would be in Atlantic City.
“The fight would put Kelly back in the limelight and that’s what Kelly needs right now,” Loew said.
Of Williams, a southpaw, Loew said, “He holds it [fighting at 160] well. He’s tall.”
An announcement on the outcome of the Pavlik-Williams negotiations is expected soon.
“We are or are not fighting Paul Williams,” Loew said. “We’ll know very shortly, one way or the other.”
Williams’ lone loss was to Carlos Quintana, via 12-round unanimous decision on Feb. 9, 2008.
Bruce Trampler of Top Rank, Pavlik’s promoter, said he wasn’t personally involved in the negotiations, but acknowledged that hammering out a deal has been difficult because of new demands by Williams’ people.
“Nobody knows,” Trampler said. “It’s in the hands of Paul Williams.”
When contacted, Goossen said: “Paul is a world champion and Kelly is a world champion, but Paul had four respectable wins in a row. He deserves to have a fair amount of revenue that’s generated. I want Kelly to make his, [Top Rank’s] Bob Arum to make his and Paul to make his.”
In the recent past, talks between Arum [for Pavlik] and Williams’ people broke down and the subsequent results: Pavlik fought Hopkins and Williams fought — and beat — Wright.
“Unfortunately, some great fights don’t get made because of misdirected reasons,” Goossen said. “We were a quarter-million apart last time, but, rather than doing what was fair at that time, it put Kelly in a bad situation [fighting Hopkins] and he would have been better off fighting Williams.”
If negotiations end unsuccessfully, Goossen speculated, Wright may end up fighting Pavlik and “Winky will beat Kelly as easily as Bernard did.”
A Pavlik-Wright fight wouldn’t command as much money as a Pavlik-Williams match, Goossen said.
Because of indications that the gate will be big, Goossen’s “better” percentage demand than previously offered might be close to 45 percent (as opposed to 20-25 percent above $1.8 million). According to BoxingScene.com, that means Top Rank gets the first $1.8 million of the gate and 75-80 percent above that number. If the gate generates $1.8 million or lower, then Goossen/Williams receive nothing.
The 45 percent figure would reduce Top Rank’s percentage to 55 percent above the first $1.8 million.
Goossen said he’s willing to go less than 50/50, but he doesn’t want to end up empty.
“The one that’s hurt is Kelly, but that’s not for me to decide. His most immediate money to be made is against Paul. We’re not that far apart, but I’m willing to give.”
The promoter said it isn’t about egos.
“It’s about a big fight for fans. It’s about big money for both, if done properly, and much bigger things for the winner.”