Pavlik: ‘I did what I had to do’

Pavlik satisfied with win, eyes better competition next

By Joe Scalzo

In some ways, Kelly Pavlik’s fight on Friday night in Las Vegas was less against the thoroughly overmatched Scott Sigmon and more against his past — specifically, the 2007-08 version of himself.

But when he was asked whether the 2007 version of Kelly Pavlik would have finished Sigmon earlier, Pavlik said no.

“If this was 2007, I would have been throwing big right hands, trying to kill the kid, and I would have ended up punching myself out,” said Pavlik, who won by seventh round TKO when referee Jay Nady took the advice of the ring doctor and stopped the bout. “I give [Sigmon] credit — he could take a good shot. He comes to fight. He’s never been stopped. Granted, he hasn’t fought anyone at the top level but still. He’s a game kid.

“I eventually broke him down and stopped him.”

Pavlik was critical of his performance afterward — he felt he fought inside too much, particularly in the fifth and sixth rounds — but he disagreed with ESPN analyst Teddy Atlas’ contention that he seemed a little disinterested and didn’t have the same energy he might have had against a better opponent.

“I went in and did what I had to do,” said Pavlik, who spoke by phone Saturday afternoon before leaving to watch the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley card. “Toward the end of the fight, I did what Robert [Garcia, his trainer] told me to do and landed straight punches from the outside.

“The kid was a bloody, bloody mess and I enjoyed it.”

Atlas’ other criticism was that Pavlik took too long transitioning from defense to offense and Pavlik agreed, but said it was partly because Sigmon wasn’t a threat.

“He had nothing I was concerned about,” said Pavlik. “I think the most I was hit with [in a round] was eight shots and seven of them were headbutts.

“I was picking my shots. If I was fighting someone different, I wouldn’t have done that.”

Sigmon got Friday’s bout in part because of his willingness to trash Pavlik in the media — and on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter — and his talking continued on Friday.

Sigmon could be seen talking to Pavlik throughout the bout and after the sixth round, told his cornermen, “He’s not gonna stop me.”

“He kept telling me the whole time how hard I hit and then he asked me in the fourth round, ‘Do I have your respect?’” Pavlik said. “If I would have said ‘yeah’ I think he would have took a knee and quit.

“That kid is messed up in the head. He kept going and going and every time I hit him, he’d tell me how good I was doing. Weird. The kid was a head case.”

Following the fight, Sigmon tweeted, “I will be back better than ever. Give me a few months.” Pavlik is taking the same approach, hoping to get an early September bout against a top opponent. He believes he’s ready for a championship-level fight, “but Top Rank, on the other hand, might not,” he said.

“I’m sure the level of competition will pick up dramatically,” he said of his next opponent. “I’m ready for anything, no matter who it is.”

When asked to rank the top three super middleweights right now, Pavlik said Andre Ward is “definitely No. 1, obviously” and put Carl Froch at No. 2. He also mentioned Lucian Bute, Mikkel Kessler and Andre Dirrell, although he didn’t specify which was No. 3.

“There’s a lot of good guys out there,” he said.

Like he did after his second-round TKO of Aaron Jaco in March, Pavlik will return home to Youngstown for a few weeks, then return to Oxnard, Calif., for training camp.

While Pavlik believes the 2012 version can eventually regain the form of the 2007 version, he’s got a long way to go to regain his popularity in his hometown. Nonetheless, he said he appreciates the fans who have stuck with him.

“There were a lot of people from Youngstown there [Friday night] and it means a lot,” he said. “I really appreciate the support.”

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