YOUNGSTOWN — As the latest chapter in Kelly Pavlik’s career unfolded, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini had just one thought: “We are witnessing the assassination of a career.”
“What doesn’t he get about this business?” said Mancini, a former lightweight champion from Youngstown. “You’re only as good as your last fight.”
Saying he wasn’t going to “fight a southpaw for peanuts,” Pavlik canceled both his upcoming fight with Darryl Cunningham at the Covelli Centre and his planned November bout with IBF super middleweight champion Lucian Bute.
Pavlik was guaranteed $50,000 for the Cunningham bout and $1.35 million for the Bute bout.
Mancini said Pavlik’s comments will not play well with his promoter, the cable networks or his hometown fans.
“For all the good will he’s done, I don’t think he realizes the irreparable damage he’s doing,” Mancini said. “Fighting for a million dollars is chicken feed? Wow. Wow. I’m beyond baffled. I’m flabbergasted.
“It’s a million-dollar payday and you’ve got people in this town making minimum wage. How do you think they’re going to identify with you or sympathize with you? How?”
According to a Top Rank spokesman, Pavlik did not sign a contract to fight Cunningham and that members of Pavlik’s camp were aware of the $50,000 guarantee well in advance of the bout.
The cancellation continued a troubling trend for Pavlik, who has won just three fights in three years and has canceled bouts against Bryan Vera, Paul Williams and Sergio Mora due to injuries over that span.
Pavlik has not returned calls for comment. In a radio interview with Boxingscene.com, he said he doesn’t want to retire, but that he’s “tired of being a puppet.”
“I don’t need the money. I don’t,” he said. “I made enough money in my career. I’m living happily ever after right now.
“I would rather retire before I sell my career short.”
Pavlik’s promoter, Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, said he thinks the decision to cancel has more to do with desire than money.
“The way I read it is that he doesn’t want to fight anymore,” Arum said. “And it’d be wrong to really force him to fight.”
For the complete story, read Thursday's Vindicator and Vindy.com