By Joe Scalzo
It’s not for a belt.
It’s not on TV.
It’s not against a big-name opponent.
But when Kelly Pavlik enters the ring Saturday night for just the second time in two years, he said he’ll be feeling the pressure.
“I’m not nervous, but I do want to look good, so there’s a good amount of pressure from that,” said Pavlik, speaking by phone on Thursday from his training camp in Oxnard, Calif. “I know it’s just my second fight in two years so I really shouldn’t feel that way, but I do.
“It’ll be good to get back in there.”
Pavlik (37-2, 32 KOs) will meet Aaron Jaco (15-2, 5 KOs) of Sarasota, Fla., in a 10-round, 170-pound bout at the Alamodome in San Antonio. The bout will be during the untelevised portion of the “Top Rank Live!” telecast on the Azteca America network.
Pavlik, the former middleweight champion from Youngstown, will face a 35-year-old fighter who has fought just once in the past five years — a first-round knockout of Brian Bernard last November.
Pavlik, meanwhile, has fought just once since losing his middleweight titles to Sergio Martinez in April 2010 — a 10-round majority decision win over Alfonso Lopez in May.
When asked what he needs to do against Jaco, Pavlik said, “I hate to say stop him but I’ve got to go in there and beat the guy up. Just completely dominate every minute of every round and keep doing that.
“With this fight and [an upcoming June fight], I need to be very impressive.”
If Pavlik wins Saturday, Top Rank is planning to have Pavlik fight on ESPN on June 2.
Contrary to some reports, Pavlik said he would not fight on the undercard of the June 9 welterweight bout between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley.
Pavlik said he will return to Youngstown for about two weeks after the Jaco fight, which would mean he’ll be home for his 30th birthday on April 4.
“It’ll be nice to get back home — I miss my family and my parents and friends and everything — but once it’s time for business again, I’ll be back out here,” said Pavlik, who began training in California in January. “Top Rank has a busy schedule planned.
“They want me to fight in June and September and maybe one more at the end of the year, so I’ll be busy.”
Pavlik and his new trainer, Robert Garcia, have struggled to find film on Jaco so he’s a bit of a mystery. But Pavlik said he plans to do more film work in the future, something he avoided in years past, preferring to feel out his opponent in the first round or two.
“I think at this point in my career, it’s something I’ve got to do,” he said. “All great fighters watch film so they can break down the weaknesses and strengths [of their opponents] and work on it.
“I’m not going to be breaking down film for a half-hour five days a week, but I need to watch it a handful of times so I can see what the guy does and how he fights.”
Pavlik said his training regimen hasn’t changed much in California but he’s benefited from the isolation, allowing him to focus on boxing and get back to some of the exercises he did earlier in his career.
“We’re getting back to some of the things I strayed away from,” he said. “With all the knockouts, I started doing too much where I was standing flat-footed, hitting with power shots.
“In nine weeks, I’m not going to fully get back to my old head movement and my boxing but I’ll get better each camp. I have a little more bounce in my step, been working on my hand speed and my combinations and sparring some very good fighters. It’s starting to come.”