By JOE SCALZO
Vindicator sports staff
YOUNGSTOWN — Kelly Pavlik finally has an opponent.
Pavlik’s promoters have reached a preliminary agreement for the middleweight champion to fight Paul “The Punisher” Williams on Oct. 3 in Atlantic City, N.J., according to a source familiar with the situation.
HBO will televise the bout. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Top Rank Boxing, which promotes Pavlik, is planning a press conference for Aug. 18 in New York.
The two sides had been negotiating for weeks but talks stalled in recent days due to what Pavlik’s camp considered unfair demands from the Williams camp. HBO reportedly offered each fighter $1.75 million and a percentage of the gate, but talks hit a major snag when Williams’ camp countered with a $2.5 million demand and a larger percentage of the purse.
Pavlik (35-1, 31 KOs), who holds the WBC and WBO middleweight belts, has not fought since scoring a 10th-round TKO over Marco Antonio Rubio in February at the Covelli Centre.
The 28-year-old Williams (37-1, 27 KOs) is still listed as a welterweight — he is a two-time WBO welterweight champion — but has fought his last three bouts above the 147-pound limit.
His most recent bout was at 159 pounds — one under the middleweight limit — when he earned a 12-round unanimous decision over Ronald “Winky” Wright in April.
Wright, who is trained by Austintown native Dan Birmingham, had been mentioned as a possible opponent for Pavlik by several outlets on Tuesday but the bout was clearly a back-up plan for Pavlik if the Williams negotiations fell through.
Pavlik and Williams were scheduled to fight each other last fall before negotiations broke down over money. Pavlik instead fought Bernard Hopkins, who handed Pavlik his first professional defeat.
Top Rank president Todd duBoef, who is handling negotiations for the Williams bout, was on vacation and was not available for comment Tuesday night. Calls to other members of Pavlik’s camp, including co-manager Cameron Dunkin, were not returned.