Pavlik moves fight, finds opponent

By Rob Todor


Kelly Pavlik has an opponent for his August fight at the Covelli Centre.

Pavlik, 29, will take on Darryl Cunningham of Detroit in the main event of a show, now scheduled for Aug. 6.

Pavlik had originally targeted Aug. 20 for his tuneup fight in anticipation of a November title showdown against Lucian Bute.

The Pavlik-Cunningham fight will be televised on Showbox, a division of the Showtime cable network.

Cunningham, 36, is a southpaw — like Bute — and has won 23 of 25 career professional fights. He has won 10 fights by knockout and is ranked 17th in the United States among middleweights.

Pavlik will enter the ring with a 37-2 record and 32 knockouts.

“Darryl Cunningham is a good, solid fighter,” said Jack Loew, Pavlik’s trainer, by phone on Wednesday night.

“He’s going to come in here and give us some rounds.”

Cunningham last fought March 18 in Royal Oak, Mich., winning by unanimous decision over Marcos Primera (20-23-2).

He was scheduled to fight Saturday night in Flint, Mich., in an eight-round bout against Donnie Davis (8-23), but Loew said that fight will not take place.

“I think [Top Rank] pushed us for an answer, knowing that Cunningham had that fight this weekend. They wanted to get it canceled.”

Cunningham has not fought anyone of reknown — Pavlik will be his most well-known opponent by far.

But, he is a left-hander, which is designed to give Pavlik experience against a southpaw before he fights Bute in November.

“Top Rank picked him [Cunningham],” said Loew. “It’s going to give Kelly a good luck at a southpaw who’s going to be a good boxer and goes the distance.”

Pavlik last fought on May 7, outpointing Alfonso Lopez in a 10-round middleweight fight in Las Vegas.

He admitted afterwards he was more rusty than anticipated — it was Pavlik’s first fight in 13 months and came after a rehabilitation trip to the Betty Ford Clinic in California — and despite getting the title fight with Bute the Pavlik camp recognized that the former WBC and WBO middleweight world champion needed a second tuneup bout.

“Kelly has been working out [at Loew’s Southside Gym],” said Loew. “We have five weeks to get ready. By the end of next week we’ll have sparring partners in here.”

Pavlik’s last fight against a southpaw was a unanimous decision loss to Sergio Martinez in Atlantic City in April 2010, but that loss could be attributed more to Pavlik’s lack of strength due to intense weight loss leading up to the bout.

Before that, he TKO’d Bronco McKart in the sixth round in July 2006 in Uncasville, Conn.

Loew said the goal for the August fight is a simple one:

“Get used to a left-hander. Getting in there and seeing how he moves.”

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