The infection which has plagued the middleweight champ for eight months has left him unable to make a fist.
By RICK ROUAN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN— When Jack Loew asked Kelly Pavlik to make a fist with his left hand Wednesday morning, the middleweight champion’s index finger didn’t bend to his palm.
Loew gave his fighter the bad news: his Dec. 5 title defense against Paul Williams in Atlantic City had to be canceled.
“He took it all in stride. He was a little upset, but I think he knows I’m making the best move for him,” said Loew, Pavlik’s trainer, during a Wednesday afternoon press conference at Southside Boxing Club, where Pavlik trains.
Recovery from the staph infection that has plagued the fighter for eight months has left him unable to make a fist. Pavlik had two surgeries on the hand this summer.
The fight was originally scheduled for October but had to be pushed back to Dec. 5 as Pavlik rehabilitated the left index finger where he developed the staph infection.
Top Rank Boxing, Pavlik’s promotion company, asked HBO to move the card back two weeks to Dec. 19 but “the date is unavailable,” said Lee Samuels, a Top Rank spokesman.
“We talked to Dan Goosen [Wednesday]. It looks like [Williams] will likely get that HBO date and fight another opponent. He’s not waiting,” Samuels said.
Samuels said the Pavlik-Williams fight is not rescheduled and that Top Rank does not have an HBO date for the rest of 2009.
“Before he goes back into the ring we’re going to get assurances from him and his family that he’s ready to fight,” Samuels said.
Loew said a Cleveland Clinic doctor attributed the slow recovery to an allergic reaction Pavlik had to antibiotics in September. The reaction put Pavlik in the hospital for five days.
“I’m not a doctor. I don’t know the medical reasons why it’s not bending,” he said.
The staph infection is gone from Pavlik’s hand, Loew said, and doctors have told Team Pavlik that the fighter could be able to make a fist at any moment.
Pavlik was at the Cleveland Clinic on Wednesday with HBO cameras, Loew said, and he did not attend the press conference. He said that Pavlik might have his own press conference on Friday. Pavlik did not return a phone call seeking comment.
“It wasn’t Kelly’s decision [to postpone the fight]. It was my decision,” he said.
Since he began training for the title defense, Pavlik has been running, lifting and hitting bags with only one hand, Loew said.
But hitting with one hand is not enough to prepare for Williams, he said.
By canceling the fight, Pavlik is missing out on a $3 million pay day, Loew said.
Samuels said that Pavlik can still rebound though, citing Vitali Klitschko, a heavyweight who retired from boxing in 2005 because of mounting injuries but returned in 2008 to regain his title and millions of dollars to boot.
“I’ve seen fighters off for a year, year and a half,” Samuels said. “It’s a patient business.”
Pavlik’s trainer has maintained that the middleweight champion will not fight until he’s healthy.
“I promised myself and I promised everybody I won’t put an unhealthy fighter in there,” Loew said.