Vindicator sports reporter Joe Scalzo talked with Kelly Pavlik for an exclusive interview on Monday, less than 48 hours after his loss to Sergio Martinez. Here is the text of that interview:
Q. First, you needed about three dozen stitches for your eyes. How are you physically and when do you think you’ll be 100 percent?
A. I’m actually really good. I get the stitches out in about five or seven days. I’m just a little sore, like in my lower back from fighting 12 rounds, just like I am after every fight. When I get the stitches out, it’s probably going to be a few days before I can make contact.
Q. How hard was it to deal with the loss?
A. It was hard this time because I was taking control of the fight. I was finding a rhythm, countering him, coming over his jab and catching him. It seemed like he was tiring in the middle rounds. And then in the eighth round, I got cut. It was kind of my fault because I got lazy for a minute and he threw a punch and as soon as he hit me, he caught me on the bone and blood starting pouring into my [right] eye.
That was a big turning point. It had nothing to do with his movement because I was countering him. It’s just that blood got in my eyes and I couldn’t see.
Q. So is that the main reason you looked so flat for the final four rounds?
A. It was hard to see and I didn’t want to throw a punch out there and take a chance getting hit. Pretty much the only way I could possibly see was by rubbing it with my glove and the only thing that was doing was cutting it more.
Between rounds, the referee kept coming into the corner saying if the cut didn’t get healed, he was going to stop it. But the cut man stopped the bleeding, it’s just that the location of the cut was so bad, it kept bleeding.
I also got little bit fatigued muscle-wise, but the cut definitely had lot to do with it.
Q. Let’s talk about that fatigue because Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini told me you looked like a guy who used up all his energy just trying to make weight. What’s your response?
A. I don’t know. I’m not a doctor on that. We did everything the right way, but it was a battle making weight.
We left at about 166 [pounds] on Wednesday and by the time we flew and put on some short-term weight, I was back up to 170. Wednesday, I did a lot of running because you can’t lose 8-10 pounds sitting in a sauna. Even on Friday, I was running 3 to 5 miles.
But I’m not going to put anything [excuse-wise] on that. He took over the later part of the fight.
Q. If you hadn’t been cut, do you think you would have won?
A. Yeah, definitely. I know I would have won the fight. I could see what he was doing and without that cut, there would have been no hesitation. But my main focus was trying to keep my eye clear.
Q. You have a rematch clause. Do you plan to activate it?
A. I definitely want the rematch. The only thing is, we’ve got to see where our weight goes from here. I’m not going to keep starving myself to keep below 180. I can’t train the way I train [outside of training camp] because it wears my body down.
You see it with guys like [Arthur] Abraham, [Jermain] Taylor, even [Bernard] Hopkins toward the end, it’s really hard to keep the weight down and I just can’t keep doing that to my body. If I can stay around 180, maybe a little lighter, I’ll take the rematch clause. If I get up to 183-185 again and I have to do the same thing to get back down to the weight, it’s going to be tough.
We did it [losing the weight] the right way. We even had a nutritionist. But pretty much once I got to 163, it was almost impossible to lose those last three pounds.
Q. If you’re going to stay at 160, do you need to do a better job keeping your weight down between fights, maybe doing some extra cardio or swimming?
A. Definitely. I have to watch what I eat and maybe do something [cardio-related] at least three days a week instead of five [during training camp], something to keep the calories burning.
With that being said, if the weight stays up, I have no choice but to move up to another weight class.
Q. When do you plan to make that decision?
A. I’m going to take this week off, then we’ll see where we’re at. I’ll probably sit down with my trainer [Jack Loew] and my dad and probably get [co-manager] Cameron [Dunkin] on the phone and go from there. I think I have 90 days to sign the contract [before it expires], so maybe I’ll wait a couple weeks to see where the weight is going.
Q. I’ve written a few times that I haven’t seen you look good since the Lockett fight. Is that a fair observation and, if so, why?
A. You know, in this fight, without the cut, you would have said it was a good Kelly Pavlik. I was confident going into the fight, I was healthy going into the fight. There were no injuries, no missed days of training or sparring.
They say styles make fights and I don’t care who it is, Martinez is going to make any fight look tough because of his style. If it was somebody different, who had movement but wasn’t as awkward, it might have looked better.
But, yeah, I did have a couple bad fights since the Lockett fight.
Q. One of the things people have said since the Hopkins loss was that you can’t handle fighters with movement. Is that a fair criticism?
A. It’s always harder to fight somebody that’s moving. You’re fighting two fights because when he’s moving, you have to first cut the ring off then try to land.
By the middle rounds, I knew when he was going to throw the jab and I was hitting him with counters, but in a matter of seconds I got blood in my eye and once he went to my right he was out of my field of vision.
Q. A lot of people would like to see you change something up, whether it’s training elsewhere or changing trainers. Will you be making any changes?
A. No. I hate to sound like a broken record but we had the right game plan for the fight. Even in the middle rounds, you can hear the [HBO] commentators stating how good I was doing with the movement. I was doing the right things, taking control of the fight.
The big game-changer was the cut, which it would be with anybody.
Q. A few years ago, you mentioned you’d like to be done fighting at 30. I haven’t heard you mention that lately. How much longer do you want to stay in boxing?
A. We’ve got fights left in us. I’m still hungry, especially after this fight. It’s been two days and I’m still ticked off and down a little bit about it. As far as how many more fights, we’ll see how the next couple fights go.
Q. What’s been the response from fans and the community?
A. I don’t know. I haven’t paid any attention to it. I have heard there was definitely some criticism on some radio shows but that’s just hearsay. I didn’t hear any of it myself.
There’s nothing you can do about that. It is what it is. I’ve still got a good record, 36-2. It’s not the end of the world to lose. Fighters lose all the time. It’s something to bounce back from and move forward. I can’t let it hold me down.
Q. Mancini said that, as strange as it sounds, there might even be a little bit of a relief, since you can just be a fighter and not have to be the representative for the whole city. Do you feel that?
A. There is a little truth to that. I don’t want to say it’s relief — it’s not a good thing to lose — but the pressure’s off. There’s a lot of pressure, especially coming from such a small city.
In New York, Los Angeles, places like that, there’s other celebrities, other stars, other top athletes because there’s hundreds of thousands of people that live here.
In a small city, there’s a lot of pressure, especially when you put that small city on the world map, on HBO, in the papers, in the New York Times and Sports Illustrated and stuff like that. People are always asking me questions about Youngstown and it’s not just people reading about that locally. It’s people all over the country.
Q. So, now you can be just a fighter?
A. Exactly. I was a guy who came up representing Youngstown and once I won the titles, I got the 900,000 other things that came with it, which is obviously going to happen. It happens to anybody. But now I can get back on track and focus on fighting.
I just want to focus on getting the titles back. If I can’t do it at middleweight, I’ll do it at super middleweight.