Pavlik fight delivers a punch that’s good for the area

Pavlik fight delivers a punch that’s good for the area

It’s official; 7,228 fans can’t be wrong.

Kelly Pavlik is the real deal. And a real good deal for Youngstown.

Pavlik brought the defense of his WBC/WBO middleweight championship to the city, and the people of Youngstown — and Warren and Lisbon and Sharon, just to name a few area towns — responded.

Not only was there a strongly partisan, highly local and unabashedly vocal crowd at the Chevy Centre, there were thousands of other fans gathered downtown and at clubs and bars throughout the area cheering Pavlik on. Thousands more gathered in smaller groups of friends and family around TV screens at home to watch Pavlik vs. Marco Antonio Rubio on pay-per-view.

It takes all kinds

Many of those thousands were seasoned fight fans who have loved and followed the sweet science for decades. Others could name, at best, three fighters, Kelly Pavlik, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini and Rocky Balboa. And for others, the only fighter they have every cared about in their lives is Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik.

And in Youngstown Saturday night, there was (just barely) room for all those fans and more.

The fight, which went longer than most expected and ended unexpectedly when Rubio failed to answer the bell for round 10, was as much a cultural success as an artistic one. It brought people together, it provided entertainment and it gave Youngstown and the Chevy Centre positive national exposure.

And it gave the career of Kelly Pavlik a boost, coming on the heels of his only professional loss last fall.

It was obvious from interviews reported and aired that Pavlik has a deep and diverse fan base here, with fans ranging in age from eight to the 80s. Even someone who isn’t a fight fan can appreciate the story of a young man who was obviously born with athletic talent, but went on to put in the thousands of hours that it takes to develop into a champion.

No one in Youngstown who picks up a newspaper or turns on a television set can be unaware of Kelly Pavlik. They’ve seen what it takes to train a boxer. They’ve seen him punch the large and small bags, hammer at a tractor tire with a baseball bat, shadowbox and spar and, finally, climb into the ring on fight night.

Clearly everyone can’t be a boxer. And few can rise to the top of their game, regardless of what their game may be.

Exceptional success

Life isn’t like Lake Wobegon, where all the kids are above average. For every Kelly Pavlik — for every champion — there’s a string of thousands of would-be champions. They are the ones who didn’t have the quickness or the power, didn’t have the drive, couldn’t take a punch, wouldn‘t put in the hours, or just — cruelest of all — didn’t get the break they needed at the right time.

And so it is easy to revel in the success of Kelly Pavlik and to take from his story a lesson that anyone can appreciate and that we all should emulate: recognize your talent, develop it and do what you have to do to live a champion’s dream.

Kelly Pavlik is living the dream, and he deserves to. Quite simply, he’s earned it.

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