By John W. Goodwin Jr. and Joe Scalzo
On Thursday morning, 2,500 miles away from Youngstown, a boxing trainer named Robert Garcia got on the Internet, read the latest story on Kelly Pavlik and thought, “That’s why we need to get him out of his hometown.”
“We’ve seen it before,” said Garcia, Pavlik’s trainer-to-be, who spoke by phone from Oxnard, Calif. “In your own hometown is where you get into the most trouble. If you have a drinking problem, being there makes it worse. And even if you don’t, it’s in your hometown that you get a lot of criticism and a lot of people hating on you.
“I think moving him and his family and staying here in Oxnard is a good idea. In your hometown, there’s always envy and little things turn into big things.”
Pavlik, the former middleweight boxing champion, faces arraignment today in Mahoning County Area Court here on charges of operating a vehicle while impaired, failure to control and leaving the scene of an accident.
Pavlik declined to comment for this story.
He spent a brief time in the county jail on the three misdemeanor charges after being arrested Wednesday night at his Sugarbush Drive home in Canfield.
Police say Pavlik, 29, and a friend wrecked two all-terrain vehicles on a neighboring piece of property, destroying a lamppost and causing other damage.
Reports say Pavlik smelled of alcohol and was belligerent to deputy sheriffs investigating the accident.
The incident began when a homeowner in the 3900 block of Sugarbush Drive called police to report that two men on ATVs — one ATV being red and one larger green one — had hit a lamppost and telephone pole in his yard and driven away. The homeowner identified Pavlik as one of the men.
The man told police he went outside about 10:30 p.m. and saw Pavlik and another man on his property with the ATVs. He said both men were aggressive toward him and appeared to be drunk, with slurred speech and a noticeable smell of alcohol.
Deputies went to Pavlik’s home and discovered a red ATV sitting in the driveway covered in fresh mud and grass. A larger, green ATV was located inside an open garage. The larger ATV had heavy front-end damage and the top of a lamppost in the passenger seat.
Daniel Ferreri, a Pavlik friend, met deputies in the driveway of the home and said he had wrecked the green ATV into a lamppost down the street from the house.
Deputies report Pavlik came out of the house as they were speaking with Ferreri and demanded the deputies leave his property. The deputies reported that Pavlik was belligerent and continually disrupted their attempts to interview Ferreri.
Ferreri, after extensive conversation with deputies, said Pavlik was actually the driver of the green ATV involved in the accident. Ferreri was then arrested, charged with obstruction of official business. He will be arraigned in the Canfield court Jan. 4.
Deputies observed Pavlik swaying side to side as he walked and noticed his speech was slurred. He was asked to submit to field-sobriety tests but refused. He was placed under arrest and taken to the jail.
Deputies noted that Pavlik was bleeding from a cut to the back of his head but refused medical treatment.
The fighter was released from alcohol-abuse treatment and returned to Youngstown in January after two months of rehabilitation at the Ranch Recovery Center in Desert Hot Springs, Calif.
Police reports show that Pavlik also was involved in a fight with his brother Michael Pavlik in July. The two men were reportedly drinking at the time.
According to police, Kelly, after exchanging words with Michael, “punched the west-facing side door of the home and pulled his brother, Michael, out of the broken window.”
Reports say officers found broken glass and blood on nearby steps. Michael Pavlik, police said, appeared to have minor cuts to his arms and hands but told officers at the scene that he did not need an ambulance or medical attention.
Kelly Pavlik had left the home before officers arrived, and police could not contact him for questioning. Michael Pavlik reportedly told officers repeatedly he did not wish to file charges against his brother.
The fight between the brothers was witnessed by Michael’s girlfriend, who was at the home.
Kelly Pavlik split with his longtime trainer, Jack Loew, in October and planned to begin training with Garcia soon after the holidays.
Garcia said he has not talked to Pavlik recently — “I mostly talk to his manager, Cameron Dunkin, and Top Rank,” he said — but said he is still interested in working with Pavlik.
“I think if he’s surrounded by fighters like Brandon Rios and Miguel Garcia, that should give him a little motivation and a little help in trying to come back and come back strong,” said Garcia, who runs the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy.
“I’m still hoping things work out,” Garcia added. “If he’s willing to make that move and make that change, it could be the best thing that could happen to him.”
Neither Dunkin nor Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, Pavlik’s trainer, responded to phone messages. Top Rank spokesman Lee Samuels said, “Top Rank and any of its staff are not making any comments on Kelly.” Loew said he had no comment.