Pavlik wants to fight on HBO

Champ has second thoughts on Showtime’s tourney; says “big-time” boxers fight on HBO.

By Joe Scalzo

YOUNGSTOWN — When Showtime announced its lineup last week for its upcoming super middleweight tournament, some boxing fans wondered, “Why wasn’t Kelly Pavlik involved?”

Initially, Pavlik said he would have been interested, but after researching the tournament over the past week, he’s changed his mind.

“Why would I be in that tournament when I’m a middleweight?” he said. “They never asked me and I never wanted to join.

“Let them beat each other up. Let them ruin their careers for peanuts.”

The round-robin tournament will include some of the biggest names in the division — Carl Froch, Mikkel Kessler, Jermain Taylor, Andre Ward, Andre Dirrell — and IBF middleweight champion Arthur Abraham, who will relinquish his belt and move up.

Each fighter is guaranteed three bouts, with points awarded based on the results. (Three points for a knockout, two for a decision, one for a draw.) The top four advance to the single-elimination finals.

It’s a big career risk for what Pavlik considers a small payoff — about $3 million or $4 million for the winner, he said.

“Those guys are fighting for peanuts,” said Pavlik. “They’re going to burn their whole career and for what? Nobody watches Showtime.

“Trust me, when the winner of that tournament fights his next fight, it’ll be on HBO.”

HBO is the biggest network for boxing and most of Pavlik’s biggest fights have been on that network in recent years, including his two bouts against Taylor and his knockout of Edison Miranda.

Although Pavlik’s latest bout, a 10th-round knockout of Marco Antonio Rubio in Youngstown in February, was broadcast on independent pay-per-view, Pavlik made it clear he wants to fight for HBO.

“I like HBO,” he said. “I will fight for HBO. All the big-time fighters like Floyd Mayweather, [Manny] Pacquiao, [Miguel] Cotto, Shane Mosley, the Klitschkos — they all fight on HBO.”

Although Pavlik has been out of the spotlight in recent months, he still considers himself one of the five biggest names in boxing.

Some have argued that he needs to do a better job promoting himself on a national level, particularly if he wants to earn bigger paydays, but Pavlik disagrees.

“I’ve got enough going on right now,” he said. “There’s not much more that I can do just by me making an appearance with the camera shining on my face.”

Although several middleweights are eager to fight Pavlik, he has set his sights on WBA champion Felix Sturm. (Pavlik holds the WBC and WBO belts, while Abraham’s IBF belt is up for grabs.)

Problem is, HBO recently offered just $2 million for a Pavlik-Sturm bout and Pavlik said he’s not willing to fight for such a low figure.

Although that statement may not sit well with some fans, Pavlik would likely clear about $300,000 from that fight after taxes and other deductions. That’s not enough for a title fight, he said, and said it’s no different from LeBron James wanting a maximum contract from the Cleveland Cavaliers.

He wants to be paid what he’s worth, he said.

“I fought my way up for seven years, I’ve fought for $3 million and $2.5 million a fight, why decline that much?” he said. “Yeah, the economy is bad, but there’s still more money out there.

“That’s like [Browns quarterback] Brady Quinn playing for $300 a week. It’s bull[crap].”

Pavlik said he’s content to stay at 160 pounds for a few years before moving up in weight to fight the winner of the Showtime tournament.

“Whoever the winner is,” he said, “I’ll kick his [butt].”

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