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One small step for Pavlik; one giant step for The Champ

By Todd Franko (Contact)


Published July 14, 2009

Kelly Pavlik is in The Vindicator today recasting his feelings on Showtime television’s boxing tournament announced yesterday, calling out the eventual winner, and, in part, reacting to my column from Sunday.

It’s far better than the most recent approach, which was to say nothing and hope that it will go away.

In the Sunday column, I simply stated that a different professional atmosphere must exist when you’re “The Champ” as opposed to what existed on the way to becoming champ.

I’m not entirely clear how the Pavlik structure exists now, except that it’s Kelly, then Mike Sr., then more family and friends. I’ve got some idea from the volumes of chatter I’ve had in various circles which has gotten louder in recent days. I'm told a process is there. It’s strong in some places, but it’s flawed in some key areas.

The clearest indication to date that all is not well is that Home Box Office, the king of boxing television and boxing’s biggest paydays, won’t offer the cash Kelly that thinks he’s worth. Not only did HBO offer Kelly a relative pittance for the proposed Felix Sturm bout, but the pay channel also passed on both the Marco Antonio Rubio fight and the now-nixed Sergio Mora fight so far this year.

I agree with Kelly that he should be worth more. But I don’t believe HBO or other purse holders are the obstacles. Their pay is based in part on the return for their investment. And at this time, they are questioning the return.

The interesting thing coming out of my Sunday column was the handful of local heavy hitters who came forward — glad that someone said something about the situation, but also glad that it was more a nudge and not a heavy punch. There is little doubt that Kelly resonates with people personally, and his professional achievement is something folks need to recast our Valley image.

I’m glad in today’s story he launched into the Showtime event that excluded him. I’m also glad that in the closing line of the story, he challenged whomever is the Showtime paper champ in 18 months.

It’s the kind of positioning and posturing he needs to do in his industry.

The ironic timing of all of this is that another major fight event is at hand at the Covelli Centre Sept. 2 involving the up and coming mixed martial arts fighting sport. The WEC used Jack Loew’s gym to host a workout session featuring its top-billed fighter, a nice guy named “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone.

It was a low-key event. But what was interesting was the media guy handling the event— David Sholler. As I was interviewing Cerrone, and we had finished up our chat, I asked if there was anything else to touch on that I hadn’t asked.

Cerrone was shrugging off the invite as if “No, I’m good.”

Sholler politely inserted himself from a few feet away and suggested to Cerrone the uniqueness of fighting for a title in Youngstown — a place that has been home to such legendary fighters as Pavlik and Ray Mancini.

From that prompting, Cerrone launched into a two-minute dialogue that seemed to indicate he and Sholler had previously talked about the necessity to salute Youngstown, Pavlik and local fight history as a way to endear himself to the fight fans here.

It was a subtle demonstration of what proper structure and a lot of heart can combine to accomplish in a profession where positioning is as important outside the ring as it is inside.

Barring the use of ruthless power agent Ari Gold from that other HBO hit, "Entourage," it would be interesting to see what a publicity mind like Sholler could mean to Team Pavlik.

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