Pavlik must weigh options — rematch or leave weight class
By Joe Scalzo
When Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini was nearing the end of his career and was asked what he thought of his opponent, he’d often reply, “Which one?”
“I was fighting the scale first, then fighting my opponent,” he said.
So as he watched Kelly Pavlik’s lethargic finish in Saturday’s loss to Sergio Martinez, Mancini got some unpleasant flashbacks.
“The last few fights of my career, I couldn’t make the weight,” he said by phone Sunday afternoon after watching the fight on HBO at home in Los Angeles. “And that’s Kelly’s problem.”
Whether it’s an insurmountable problem or not, Pavlik has a big decision to make over the next few weeks. He can either activate a rematch clause in his contract with Martinez , or he can make the inevitable jump to super middleweight (168 pounds) sooner than expected.
“We want to give him some time,” said his co-manager Cameron Dunkin. “We’re just talking positive to him right now.”
Dunkin, along with trainer Jack Loew and co-manager Michael Pavlik Sr., will probably wait until the end of this week or the beginning of next week before making a decision.
“Top Rank is still very high on Kelly; they’re not going to throw him under the bus,” said Loew. “It was just another bad night. He’s 36-2. It’s something you can rebound from.”
Loew and Dunkin both said Pavlik took the loss hard. In addition to losing the WBC and WBO belts, Pavlik had to get a dozen stitches to close the wounds around his eyes, including a dozen inside the eye.
He went straight from the fight to the hospital Saturday night and was not available for comment, either after the fight or on Sunday afternoon. He flew home to Youngstown on Sunday.
“He was really sad,” Dunkin said. “But he’s accomplished a lot and he has a lot more to go. All he has to do is win, and he’s back in business again.
“You see the same thing with guys like Bernard Hopkins and Oscar De La Hoya. They lost fights and were fine.”
Outside of his future, the biggest question was about Pavlik’s weight. At 6-feet-2 ‚Ñ he’s always been big for a middleweight and at 28, it’s getting more difficult to lose the weight in each camp. If Pavlik wants to stay at 160, he’ll likely need to keep the weight down better between fights, something Hopkins mastered during his long reign at middleweight.
“Absolutely,” Loew said. “We can’t lose 30 pounds like that in training camp.”
A few weeks before camp began as Pavlik vacationed in California, his weight crept above 190 pounds. After weighing in at 1591‚Ñ2 on Friday, Pavlik tipped the scales at 178 just before the fight.
“You can’t add 20 pounds the day after the fight,” Mancini said. “The kid had nothing left. Martinez weighed 168 and it was all water weight, just replenishing himself.
“That’s the way you have to do it.”
Loew refused to use the weight as an excuse for Pavlik’s poor performance over the last four rounds but is still baffled about what went wrong.
“We were 100 percent ready for the fight,” he said. “What happened, I have no idea. I really don’t.
“After eight rounds we were winning the fight, and we went into the tank.”
Dunkin said they’ll look at all possibilities but hesitated to put too much emphasis on the loss.
“He showed heart, he showed grit, he’s got big-time guts,” Dunkin said. “He didn’t go down, and he fought to the end. I think that’s what everybody loves about him.
“I mean, he lost a close decision in a fight he was winning after eight rounds. If that’s the worst thing that happens to Kelly Pavlik, that’s pretty good.”