Kelly Pavlik knows a win on Saturday will give him a title shot
Who: Kelly Pavlik (37-2, 32 KOs) vs. Darryl Cunningham (23-2, 10 KOs) of Detroit.
What: 10-round super middleweight bout.
When: Saturday. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., with first bout at 8.
Where: Covelli Centre.
Tickets: $150 (ringside), $100 (VIP), $50 (gold), and $25 (silver), plus $2 facility fee. Tickets can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com, by calling 800-745-3000 or in person at the Covelli Centre box office, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
TV: Showtime. Broadcast begins at 10:30 p.m.
By John Bassetti
Kelly Pavlik looks forward to having a belt around his waist again.
That’s the driving force behind his upcoming super middleweight fight against Darryl Cunningham of Detroit at the Covelli Centre on Saturday.
Top Rank president Todd DuBoef said Pavlik needs the fight to develop the razor-sharpness displayed during his winning streak against Edison Miranda, Jose Luis Zertuche and Jermain Taylor in recent years.
“He needs to get that timing back and this is all part of the process, especially after a layoff,” DuBoef said. “It’s time for Kelly Pavlik and Jack Loew to get prepared and capture those opportunities.”
Like a doctor prescribing treatment for his patient, Loew, Pavlik’s trainer, echoed DuBoef’s comments.
“I think it’s important for Kelly and for us to get to the way we used to do things for the Taylors and the Mirandas,” he said. “It’s important for the kind of fighters he wants to fight in the super middleweight division.”
If tearing a page out of the past is what the former middleweight champion needs to do, he’s agreeable.
Although some of the questions dealt with Pavlik’s last loss (to Sergio Martinez in April, 2010), his last fight in May (against Alfonso Lopez) and his Aug. 6 bout against Cunningham, many centered on Lucian Bute, the next likely opponent if Pavlik passes Saturday’s test.
Loew gave his assessment of Bute, the IBF super middleweight champion from Romania who lives in Montreal.
“He is the whole package. He goes upstairs, he goes downstairs and he has good movement side-to-side,” said Loew. “But his chin is questionable. I’ve seen what [Librado Andrade] did to him and he [Andrade] should have won that first fight. But how he’s going to react when he fights a big super middleweight like Kelly and gets hit on his chin? I know we’re going to have to be 110 percent prepared for a guy like that.”
Pavlik said he enjoys the challenges that a fight against a well-known opponent gives him.
“You want to fight the big names, whether it’s Bute, [Carl] Froch, [Andre] Ward, whoever,” he said. “I had the world title for three years and fought big names at middleweight and jumped almost to light heavyweight to fight Bernard Hopkins, then came back down to middleweight. So big fights are key to me. I don’t want to finish my career off fighting — I hate to say it — but meaningless fights. I want to get a chance to get a title again.”
Bute’s southpaw stance shouldn’t bother Pavlik.
“I did very well against [left-handers] as an amateur and, as a pro, I was kind of busy against them. Martinez, on the other hand, was a great fighter, whether he was orthodox [conventional] or southpaw. In the middle rounds I thought I had his style down and his stance, but I have no problem fighting southpaws at all. I’ve had, actually, a pretty good record against them [Mathias Bedurdick, Bronco [McKart].”
Pavlik expects to be 170 for Cunningham, the same as he was for Lopez.
“It’s set at 170, again,” said Pavlik, who was 174 1/2 on Wednesday afternoon. “That’s exactly where we want to be.”
After beating Lopez, Pavlik said he didn’t want any more “coming-back-into-play” fights, which is what the Covelli bout is.
“After watching film against Lopez, I saw that my timing was off. I think it’s important, especially when you’re going to go to the elite level against guys like the Super Six Tournament or your Butes, to make sure you’re fine-tuned before you hop into a fight like that.”
Team Pavlik is hoping for the usual hometown support on Saturday. Early indications, however, indicated tepid ticket sales.
“A lot of people are saying they’re going to be getting their tickets, but you can’t judge by that because you expect a walk-up crowd in Youngstown,” said Pavlik. “I’m going to do my thing and put on a great show and fight as hard as I can. My true fans, which I’m sure are a lot, will be in for a treat.”
He said it’s always good to fight back home.
“Who knows when the next time will be? So I’ll make the best of it.”
This will be Pavlik’s fourth show in front of a home crowd since November 2006.
“There was a lot of pressure earlier in my career when I’d come home to fight, but with all the opponents and venues I’ve fought, the pressure doesn’t get to me,” said Pavlik. “I look at it as if I were fighting out of town. But there’s a lot of pluses because, anytime you fight in your hometown, your fans kind of act as your second wind and it motivates you to put on a better show; not to overdo it or go in for the kill where you end up getting caught or over-exerting yourself, but have that little extra drive.”