Pavlik enters the home stretch

By Joe Scalzo

Back from Las Vegas, the boxer will have an open workout today at the Southside Boxing Club.

YOUNGSTOWN — Jack Loew and Kelly Pavlik have never had a problem training at home for an out-of-town fight. But training at home for a home fight?

That’s a different story.

“It’s really tough to fight at home and train at home,” said Loew, Pavlik’s trainer, who learned that lesson before February’s bout at the Covelli Centre. “Everybody talks about tickets and this and that.

“There are a lot of distractions.”

So, Pavlik and Loew went to Las Vegas for the first few weeks of training camp, before returning home on Saturday for the final preparations before their Dec. 19 middleweight title fight against Miguel Espino at YSU’s Beeghly Center.

“We went there to clear our head and get away from some things,” Loew said Monday. “We got some really good work with a hand specialist out there and the weather was great.”

The two were scheduled to return home this weekend, but Loew decided to move it up a few days to make the final week less of an adjustment.

Pavlik (35-1, 31 KOs), who has not fought since February, will spar for fans and reporters today at 1 p.m. at the Southside Boxing Club. The event is open to the public.

The Dec. 19 bout is Pavlik’s third title defense — and fifth fight overall — since defeating Jermain Taylor for the WBC and WBO titles in September, 2007. Espino (20-2-1, 9 KOs) has won 11 straight bouts and is ranked No. 3 by the WBC.

“He’s a solid fighter who’s got the opportunity of a lifetime,” Loew said. “We’ve been in that position before against Jermain Taylor, where nobody gave us a chance and they were already looking at Jermain’s next fight, so we’re not looking past him.

“We know he’s a dangerous kid and we know an opportunity like this can really make a person drive really, really hard. He’s got absolutely nothing to lose. This fight can change his life.”

Pavlik has finally recovered from a staph infection in his left hand that sidelined him for 10 months. The cut healed weeks ago, but Pavlik still has not regained total flexibility. (His left index finger wouldn’t totally bend, so he hadn’t been able to make a fist until recently.) Loew estimates the hand is around 95 percent and getting better.

“Today was probably the hardest I’ve seen him hit all camp,” Loew said.

Pavlik was originally scheduled to fight Paul Williams, first in October and then on Saturday, but both times the fights were postponed due to injury. Williams instead fought Sergio Martinez last Saturday, securing a unanimous decision in one of the best fights of the year.

“I told everybody, the way Paul kept talking about Pavlik, they were looking past Sergio Martinez,” Loew said. “They gave him that fight. I thought he lost by two rounds. If that had been us in there that night, we would have knocked him out.

“Forget that busy [stuff]; that’s amateur stuff. Half of his punches weren’t landing. You’re supposed to score by the effectiveness of it [the punch]. Just because you throw 98 punches a round doesn’t mean anything. Professional boxing is about who lands the cleaner, harder punches, and I thought Martinez fought the better fight.”

If Pavlik beats Espino, he could meet Williams in his next bout. Top Rank Boxing, Pavlik’s promoters, expects the Espino bout to sell out, but there are still good seats available at all four price levels: $58, $108, $158 and $258 (ringside). They can be purchased at the Beeghly Center box office or at For more information, call (330) 941-1978.

The four-bout pay-per-view broadcast will be available on all cable and satellite outlets for a suggested price of $39.95.

It begins at 9 p.m. from the Arena Itson in Ciudad Obregon, Sonora, Mexico with WBC super featherweight champion Humberto Soto (49-7-2, 32 KOs), of Los Mochis, Mexico taking on two-time world champion Jesus Chavez (44-6, 30 KOs), of Austin, Tex., in a 10-round lightweight bout. That will be followed by a bout between WBA interim bantamweight champion Neomar Cerme ±o (18-0, 10 KOs), of Anzoategui, Venezuela, defending his title against Alejandro Valdez (22-3-2, 16 KOs), of Ciudad Obregon, Mexico.

The broadcast then shifts to Youngstown where undefeated top-10 super welterweight contender Vanes Martirosyan (25-0, 16 KOs), of Glendale, Calif., and trained by three-time Trainer of the Year Freddie Roach, will challenge NABF super welterweight champion Willie Lee (17-5, 10 KOs), of New Orleans, in a 12-round bout, followed by the main event, Pavlik vs. Espino.

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