By JOE SCALZO
After unanimous decision losses to Sergio Martinez and Bernard Hopkins in the past two years, Kelly Pavlik has been saddled with the dreaded, “Can’t beat fighters who move” label.
And he knows a win over Daniel Edouard on Nov. 13 isn’t going to change that.
“I still get frustrated with the fact of, it’s put in my head that I’ve got to have someone stand in front of me,” said Pavlik, who will start training camp today. “Everybody said I can’t move or fight a boxer and I did prove that [I could] in my last fight [against Martinez].
“Middle rounds, I was beating the kid. I just lost it at the end.”
Although Edouard (24-3-2, 14 KOs) is a solid fighter with a solid record, his relative anonymity and straight-ahead style has earned this bout another label Pavlik had hoped to avoid — “warm-up bout.”
“I was just looking for a fight,” Pavlik said. “It would have been nice to have fought [WBA middleweight champion Felix] Sturm, but it’s a decent fight.
“After this, I want to go for title shots.”
Although the Nov. 13 bout won’t be for a title — they’ll fight at 164 pounds, midway between middleweight and super middleweight — it can help Pavlik’s career in other ways.
First, fighting on the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao-Antonio Margarito bout will give him an audience of up to 70,000 in the stands at Dallas Cowboys Stadium and another two million on TV.
“It bothers me not being the main event, but if you’re going to be on anybody’s undercard, Manny Pacquiao, that’s the one to be,” Pavlik said.
Second, the fight is designed to provide a confidence boost for Pavlik, who hasn’t looked sharp even in his recent victories. Add in a seven-month layoff and it’s easy to see why his handlers didn’t want him to fight King Kong right away.
“It’s a good comeback fight against a guy in a position with nothing to lose,” said Pavlik’s trainer, Jack Loew, who teamed with manager Cameron Dunkin in choosing the opponent. “He’s going to train his butt off and he’s going to come to fight.”
Although a loss would be devastating to Pavlik’s career, no one outside of Edouard’s camp can envision that happening. The bout was hand-picked to make Pavlik look as good as possible in front of as many people as possible so he can move on to bigger and better things.
“I expect a tough fight out of him and if we knock him out in the first round, so what? I don’t care,” Loew said. “I don’t care what the people think.
“This is our career and this is what we have to worry about. I know that after this fight, it’s going to be a major fight again.”
Whether that fight will be at middleweight or super middleweight, well, the Pavlik camp isn’t quite sure. Although Pavlik had a hard time making 160 pounds for the Martinez bout, that was more due to coming into training camp at 195 pounds than anything else.
“I’m ready for a title shot, whether it’s at 68 or at middleweight,” Pavlik said. “The hunger is there, believe me. I’ve got a lot to prove still.
“I do want to go back out there and silence the critics.”