‘It’s going to be complete electricity flowing through this community,” U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan says of tonight’s fight.
By JON MOFFETT
Vindicator Staff Writer
YOUNGSTOWN — Cheering for Kelly Pavlik at the Chevrolet Centre reminded Susan Meyer of the champ’s early career.
“I saw his first fight here at the Chevy Centre, and I was hooked ever since then,” she said.
Meyer, a Youngstown resident, and her husband have traveled to Atlantic City and Las Vegas to see the WBC/WBO middleweight champion fight the likes of Jermain Taylor, Gary Lockett and Bernard Hopkins. She attended Friday’s weigh-in between Pavlik and opponent Marco Antonio Rubio to cheer for one of Youngstown’s favorite sons.
“I think he’s good for Youngstown, good for families and good for everybody,” she said.
Meyer was one of about 600 people who filed into the downtown entertainment facility for the weigh-in. Though attendance was no where near the capacity crowd expected for tonight’s fight, the energy and excitement levels filled the arena.
“It’s going to be complete electricity flowing through this community,” said U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, who attended the weigh-in and who will be at the fight.
“There will probably be a glow coming off the Chevy Centre. He gives so many people so much hope in their own lives. ... I think that’s all going to felt and celebrated,” Ryan said.
Ryan of Niles, D-17th, said the crowd for the weigh-in was impressive and demonstrated the community’s support.
“People are excited,” he said. “With some of the negative news going on, this is an opportunity for us to celebrate the tenacity and type of hard-nosed people that come out of our community.”
The crowd made sure Rubio and his camp knew where their allegiances were by booing the challenger each time his name was mentioned. When Team Rubio was announced, chants of “Kelly! Kelly!” rang throughout the arena.
Monty Martin, 59, of Youngstown, said it is easy to understand why Pavlik is so popular.
“He’s from Youngstown, first of all,” Martin said. “He’s a class act, and he’s the middleweight champion of the world.”
A boxing fan of many years, Martin said Pavlik is one of the best middleweights he’s ever seen.
“I love boxers from Youngstown ... great fighters come out of this area,” he said.
Though few words were spoken between Pavlik and Rubio, the crowd got excited about the weigh-in and anticipate an epic bout. As Pavlik weighed in, the crowd shouted, “Kill him, Kelly!” and “Take him out now!”
There were calm moments, too, like when Pavlik picked up his daughter, Sydney, and kissed her before leaving the stage.
Fans gave Pavlik a standing ovation and waved posters and signs for the champ.
Among those attending the weigh-in was Max Hanni. The 20-year old Canfield resident sang the national anthem during the event and received loud acclaim for his stirring rendition.
“I was nervous up until I started up the steps,” the Youngstown State University sophomore said. “But I had a whole new persona and just went out there and did it. It was such an honor to be a part of this, and it has been a great experience.”
Hanni said he is a big boxing fan and has followed Pavlik during his entire career. He predicted Pavlik will win in four rounds.
When asked if the win would come via knock out, as Pavlik has done 30 times in his 34 victories, Hanni smirked and said, “It’s Kelly Pavlik. Come on!”