Pavlik arrives, ready to impress

‘The Ghost’ meets Scott Sigmon Friday

By Joe Scalzo

For the second time in his last three bouts, Kelly Pavlik will fight in the shadow of Manny Pacquiao.

And he’s fine with that.

“It’s less hectic,” said Pavlik, who will meet Scott Sigmon in a 10-round super middleweight bout on Friday night in Las Vegas, one night before Pacquiao meets Timothy Bradley. “There’s not as much commotion and I’m able to go here and focus on what we want to do and trying to get my career back on track.

“But it’s nice that it’s on the same weekend.”

Pavlik (38-2, 33 KOs) won’t be an afterthought, of course — he’s headlining ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights” broadcast and he’s already done several national interviews — but Friday’s bout is more about helping him regain his form in the ring, rather than his image outside it.

When asked what he’s hoping to accomplish on Friday, he said, “Definitely another convincing victory, especially against this kid, of all people. I need to go in there and look sharp and put it on him and that’s pretty much it.”

The 25-year-old Sigmon (22-3, 12 KOs), a lightly-regarded fighter from Virginia, is considered a massive underdog against Pavlik, who is 11-0 in Las Vegas.

Pavlik’s last fight in Las Vegas came in April 2011, when he won a 10-round majority decision over Alfonso Lopez on the undercard of the Pacquiao-Shane Mosley card. His Vegas highlight came in February 2008, when he earned a unanimous decision victory over Jermain Taylor in the rematch of their title fight.

“That was definitely the highlight,” he said. “People said I couldn’t beat him two times or win without a knockout.”

Back then, thousands of Youngstown fans traveled to his fights, but while his popularity has waned, he’s still expecting a good crowd on Friday night.

“Yeah, I heard a decent amount of people are here,” he said. “The word is it’ll be a good crowd. I was surprised to hear that.”

Pavlik arrived around 6:15 p.m. local time on Wednesday — he was at baggage claim during this phone interview — and said his weight on Wednesday morning was 170.2 pounds, about two over the limit.

“It’s actually lower than I expected it to be,” said Pavlik, whose ongoing struggles to make the middleweight limit prompted him to move up. “We’ve had a very good training camp. Everything has been tremendous.”

Pavlik expects to take a step up in competition for his next bout, with the IBF reportedly asking him to meet the sanctioning body’s No. 2 contender, Adonis Stevenson (18-1, 15 KOs), in an eliminator bout on Aug. 11.

That’s sooner than Pavlik would like to fight — he’s eyeing late August or early September — but said he’s open to all opportunities.

“I’m not in a situation to [automatically] pass anything up,” said Pavlik, who said he hadn’t heard the report. “I’ll sit down with [co-manager] Cameron Dunkin and see what he thinks.”

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