By Joe Scalzo
The Ghost’s next fight will be in his old haunts.
Top Rank chairman Bob Arum announced Tuesday night that Kelly Pavlik will have a fight in the Youngstown area this summer to prepare for a super middleweight championship bout in November against IBF champion Lucian Bute.
The fight will likely be on Aug. 20 at the Covelli Centre and will be televised by Fox Sports, Pavlik’s trainer Jack Loew said. Although no opponent has been chosen, look for Pavlik (36-2, 32 KOs) to fight a tough, but not dangerous, fighter who can help him stay sharp before fighting Bute.
“I’m definitely not looking for someone who’s going to lay down,” Loew said. “We want to fight.”
Pavlik looked rusty in winning a majority decision over Alfonso Lopez last month, a bout that followed a 13-month layoff.
Arum originally opposed the idea of a tune-up bout, but Loew was concerned about having a six-month break before Bute (28-0, 23 KOs), who is fighting Jean Paul Mendy (29-0, 16 KOs) on July 9 in Romania.
“I called Arum and asked him — I didn’t tell him, I asked him — and said I think it’s best to fight this summer,” Loew said. “Sitting for six months is not good. Now we can try for six or seven weeks, take a week or two off and get back in the gym for Bute.
“He finally agreed.”
Pavlik fought Marco Antonio Rubio at the Covelli Centre in February 2009, in front of an arena-record 7,228 fans.
While Loew is not expecting to duplicate that crowd, he said fighting a tune-up in Youngstown is better than, say, Oklahoma City.
“Boxing is such a mental game. We want him to feel good and look good and what better way to do it than here?” said Loew, who hopes to stock the card with local fighters such as Dannie Williams and Jake Giuriceo. “If there’s any rust, we can get rid of it.
“It will be like a big pep rally going into that fight against Bute.”
Arum is still negotiating with Bute’s camp for an early November bout, most likely in Bute’s hometown of Montreal, Quebec.
Former super middleweight champion Mikkel Kessler recently turned down a $3 million offer to fight Bute.
“I don’t see why Pavlik wouldn’t get a similar offer,” Loew said.