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Kelly Pavlik withdraws from Saturday fight

Published: Wed, August 3, 2011 @ 12:14 a.m.


Kelly Pavlik has withdrawn from his scheduled fight vs. Darryl Cunningham on Saturday night at the Covelli Centre and told his promotional company, Top Rank, that he will not fight Lucian Bute in November.


Jack Loew

By Rob Todor



Apparently insulted by the offer to fight for a championship in November for “peanuts,” Youngstown boxer Kelly Pavlik has taken his gloves and gone home.

Pavlik announced on Tuesday that he was withdrawing from Saturday night’s bout with Darryl Cunningham at the Covelli Centre. That was a warmup fight for Pavlik, in anticipation of a super middleweight championship clash against Lucian Bute in November.

Pavlik was reportedly upset that he was offered $1.35 million by Top Rank, his promoter, for the November fight. According to a story on boxingscene.com, the offer also included 82 percent of Top Rank’s 40 percent split of the revenue from the fight with InterBox, Bute’s promoter.

An ESPN.com story claims Pavlik was unhappy with the offer because InterBox originally had tried to sign former world champion Mikkel Kessler to fight Bute in November for a substantially larger offer, which Kessler’s team rejected.

That offer, according to Pavlik’s trainer, Jack Loew, was for $3.5 million.

“On Friday Kelly talked to Cameron Dunkin [Pavlik’s co-manager with Top Rank] about the purse for Bute,” said Loew. “Over the weekend Kelly apparently made up his mind. On Monday he didn’t show up for running in the park and he hasn’t been to the gym [Southside Boxing Club]. I have not talked to him.”

Text messages and a phone call to Pavlik’s private cell phone went unanswered on Tuesday.

“The [Cunningham] fight is off and the Bute fight is not going to happen,” Pavlik told WFMJ television. “I’m not going to fight a southpaw [Bute] for peanuts.”

Pavlik was to be paid $50,000 for Saturday’s fight.

“The ball’s in Kelly’s court,” said Loew. “I have no idea what the contract [with Top Rank] consists of, so we’ll see where he goes from here.”

Eric Ryan, the Executive Director of the Covelli Centre, said ticket sales had spiked since last Friday.

He sensed an excitement brewing over the fight, but the mood had changed dramatically on Tuesday afternoon.

“There were some very upset and disappointed people coming to our box office [for refunds],” said Ryan.

Ryan said he was first told about the cancellation on Tuesday morning in a phone conversation with Top Rank’s Brad Jacobs, who is an event producer.

“Obviously, they [Top Rank] are very disappointed, and we’re very disappointed,” said Ryan.

Top Rank’s only response came in the form of a tersely-worded email.

“Top Rank is very disappointed at Kelly’s sudden decision to discontinue the rebuilding of his boxing career,” said Todd duBoef, president of Top Rank. “Kelly’s team specifically outlined a strategy for Kelly to return to the ring in an effective fashion. Kelly’s team gave us their objectives and we set them on a course, which began last May with Kelly’s fight against Alfonso Lopez and was to continue on Saturday against Darryl Cunningham. It seems Kelly has derailed this plan.”

What happens next is anyone’s guess. It’s possible Top Rank could sever its contract with Pavlik, although no one seems to know if that’s even possible.

Canceling out of a fight five days before it’s scheduled won’t help Pavlik’s faltering image in boxing, and if Top Rank does release him it could be difficult for him to find another promoter.

He will likely find it more difficult to get future offers for big-money fights. Some observers say Pavlik was fortunate to get a title-fight offer so quickly after a long layoff in which he fought just four times since October 2008 and had two publicized trips to the Betty Ford Center.

Pavlik is 37-2 with 32 wins by knockout, but both losses have come in his last five fights. Pavlik was 34-0 and holding the WBC and WBO middleweight belts when he lost a unanimous decision to Bernard Hopkins in October 2008 at Atlantic City, N.J.

Pavlik returned to the ring to successfully defend his titles against Marco Antonio Rubio in February 2009, and Miguel Angel Espino in December 2009, both in Youngstown. However, ticket sales for the Espino victory, held at the Beeghly Center, were lukewarm.

Pavlik returned to Atlantic City in April 2010 to defend his titles against Sergio Martinez, only to lose by unanimous decision in a 12-round championship fight.

Revelations of Pavlik’s struggles with alcohol began to surface shortly thereafter, and he spent two stints in rehabilitation at the Betty Ford Clinic in 2010.

Pavlik returned to the ring in May, winning a 10-round split decision against Alfonzo Lopez in Las Vegas. Pavlik admitted after the fight he wasn’t as sharp as he would have liked, so Top Rank, at his request, set up Saturday’s fight against Cunningham (23-2, 10 KOs) with the intent of getting him ready to face Bute in Montreal in November.


1Steelcityfightfan(25 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

The real bum here is his trainer that he refuses to leave....all of the sudden he doesn't know anything???? Typical coming from the worst trainer in the sport!! Get away as fast as you can from him and salvage what you have left!

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2YtownSports(306 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

This is an ego thing. He's walking away from $1.35M because someone else was offered more? He needs to remember that he's a fighter with a damaged reputation. Even getting a title fight so soon is amazing. He should have sucked it up, gone after the title, and then named his price for his first defense if he won it. In the meantime, he's thumbed his nose at local fans and probably ticked off Top Rank. Kelly "The Ghost" will soon be like a ghost; he'll disappear and then be haunted by his own bad decisions.

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3Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Great article


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4republicanRick(1672 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

You are right - great article on Pavlik.

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5CantStandYa(222 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

I would have rather this story went more like Rocky than like Raging Bull.

I genuinely feel bad for this dude. I'd like to see him back in the ring kickin ass, but if he doesn't want to, who cares?

I see him once in a while in public and have never said a word to him...next time I might just give him a thumbs up and a smile.

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6gbonafide(7 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

"I'm not going to fight a southpaw for peanuts" says it all. Kelly has lost the fire that kept him in the gym for most of his life and drove him to become champion. He was not confident that he could beat Bute and was looking for one last big payday because the opportunities and paychecks would have gotten even smaller with another loss. No way I'm going to quit my job because I hear thru the grapevine that a guy who does the same thing I do at a different company makes more money than me.

Kelly you're not champion anymore and u think ur still a big name but you've only been in the news for the wrong reasons that last couple years. The big big money would've come if u beat Bute but your warrior spirit has deserted u and u knew that wasn't possible. There would have been a wealth of opportunities at 168 but now it looks that ur legacy will be one of the less stellar middleweight champion runs in history.

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7redvert(2226 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Don't expect to see any promoters calling you for another shot. This was about the best chance at a comeback you had and you blew it.

Got any bar tending skills?

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8spyder695(2 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

you people are ridiculous. this is a young man who brought a sliver of hope to this crappy town. he spoke highly of the city of youngstown and the people that live here. everyone jumped on his back and nobody had a bad word to say about him, but then word came out that he liked to drink alcohol, how many of you that degrade him can say you never drank or never went out as a 20- something and got a little rowdy? now that he made a decision about HIS life and HIS future you all bash him and degrade him. gbonafide you wouldn't quit your job because you probably cannot afford to be unemployed or don't have the guts to stand up and say you deserve more, i commend kelly for standing up to top rank and their business ethics......isn't that how he always portrayed youngstown, the little guy that would destroy the big dogs? and you all loved him for it before so if you don't like his decision leave him alone and let the kid have a normal life.

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9Steelcityfightfan(25 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Sorry buddy but this is the 5th fight he's backed out on...not an isolated incident. Also when he looks bad (as he does now) the area looks even worse. He portrayed himself as this kid from a blue collar, rough, rugged fighter and hes the exact opposite.

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10candystriper(575 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Good for you Kelly!

The Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center in Las Vegas is looking for 650 boxers for a brain health study...it will let them know when it is time to quit.

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11gbonafide(7 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Spyder, your post reeks of blind loyalty and no understanding of the boxing world. I've given Kelly the benefit of the doubt and supported him through it all. I bought all the crappy PPVs against weak opponents and even had a $50 photo that I bought from his website in my work office until yesterday.

First of all, your family doesn't have interventions and you don't go to rehab if you're a social drinker who likes to have a good time once & a while. Secondly, he was damn fortunate to even be offered 1.35 million and a chance at another title. Yet he spurned the opportunity and based his horrible decision on incorrect info. If he would have retired after rehab I would have wished him well and fondly remembered his glories, but to pull out of another fight 4 days before it airs on Showtime, C'mon! I'm not going to even speak on your comment about my job because you have no clue what you're talking about.

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