Exclusive Kelly Pavlik Interview
Published Apr 06 2011 by: Scott Levinson
Pavlik talks Comeback; Sergio Martinez; Jermain Taylor & More:
Proboxing-fans.com’s Scott Levinson sat down with Former Middleweight Champion Kelly Pavlik to discuss his career, which resumes on May 7. He will be facing 21-0 Texas super middleweight Alfonso Lopez on the Pacquiao vs. Mosley undercard. After that, look for Pavlik to try to get into the mix in the deep waters at 168, where a bevy of talent and interesting matchups await.
Proboxing-fans.com: You have your first fight in over a year coming up on the Pacquiao-Mosley show on May 7. You just started sparring, a time when you can start to see some things about yourself. How’s everything looking?
Kelly Pavlik: Everything looks great, man. I got everything back—the bounce, the energy level is back. I’m feeling a lot better, you know? Maybe the layoff was kind of a good thing, I don’t know, but everything is going good. Just ready to go, pretty much.
About that time off. Do you think, in a weird way, the time off or just the fact that you’re not coming off a bunch of wars back-to-back, will help you, especially if you end up getting in there with the guys from the Super Six, who have spent the past few years beating each other up a little bit?
Kelly Pavlik: I think it will—definitely. This first fight back, I think for a round or two there’s gonna be a little rust, maybe not too much. We’re gonna pick it up and probably spar a little more in training camp than we generally do due to the fact of the time lost, so that’s the only way to try to stop the rust.
Going in with the guys from the Super Six, it’s definitely gonna help. I think as far as letting the body heal and rest that we’ll definitely be ready to go into it. If you look at the past with that Staph infection and we finally got that thing to heel. So I was pretty much, like, the hand is finally healed, so let’s go back in and bang it now. And this time, I think it’s gonna be a little different.
The way Sergio Martinez beat Paul Williams in the rematch and Dzinziruk, and how he’s the hottest fighter in the sport now; do you think it throws a different light on your fight with him?
Kelly Pavlik: I think it does, you know? It frustrates me a little bit, because I know in that fight, if I didn’t hit a wall in the 8th round, that is was a totally different fight. Going into the 8th, I believe I was up on the scorecards. And who knows? If I changed the way I lost weight for that fight or bring in a very good nutritionist, I think it would have made it a little different in that fight. That’s kind of what upsets me. Knowing what I did to him, he really had no power to hurt me at all. Great fighter, not taking anything away from him, but I never was stung in that fight.
I think, even with the cut, a lot of people may seem to think it was the cut that did it. But to me, it wasn’t the cut. It’s just…my body hit a wall in the 8th and I couldn’t do anything anymore. And I think the cut was as bad as it was due to the fact of the dehydration and then being on IV’s before the fight and re-hydrating so much. I think that might have had a little bit to do with the cut. It’s really frustrating, but I’m glad to see how he’s doing, but at the same time, I know what I was doing and what happened in that fight and it frustrates me a little bit. I wish I could somehow wave a wand and go back and do it a little different in that fight, either not take the fight at that weight or spend the extra money on a very good nutritionist. We didn’t think we’d have that big of a problem making the weight, but I did and it came back to bite me in the ass on that one.
Kinda going to the other end of the spectrum: Jermain Taylor and Edison Miranda never seemed exactly the same after fighting you. In a weird way, you almost get penalized for them not scoring big wins after they fought you, even though you might be the reason for that. Do you think you’d get more credit if those guys kept having success that would be fresher in people’s minds today?
Kelly Pavlik: I think so. You know, that’s a touchy subject because if I say they weren’t the same after me, then it looks like I’m being cocky or bigheaded and I’m not that way. Taylor—I kinda do a little bit, but Miranda definitely. That was a brutal fight and that was kind of a brutal beating that I gave Miranda, it really was. He had to go to the hospital after that fight. His eyes were, I don’t know if something happened to his eye sockets or what, but he was in bad shape after the fight.
Taylor, on the other hand, it’s hard to tell with him. I don’t know if he became shell-shocked or gun-shy later in his fights. If you go to his fight with Froch, he was beating Froch so bad that if he took another knee in that last round instead of trying to stay up and let some time go by, he was so far ahead on the scorecards that he probably would have still won. Maybe he would have gotten a majority decision, that’s how far ahead he was on the scorecards. He literally beat the crap out of Froch. All Ward has to do if he fights Froch is watch the film on Taylor and Froch.
Taylor couldn’t do that to me. Even in the second fight when I didn’t knock him out, he couldn’t do that to me. I mean, Taylor’s a phenomenal fighter, hand speed-wise, probably the fastest I’ve fought—faster than Martinez. It’s hard to say on that, you know, because the Abraham fight is another one. Taylor was beating Abraham for 6 rounds. I had him winning the first 6. It seemed like he went into that shell after the 7th or 8th round. He was like “I’m winning the fight. I did enough. Just don’t let me get knocked out now,” and I think that’s what caught up to him a little bit in those fights. The fight with me might have been the reason. I’m not sure.
Not to take any credit away from Froch for scoring that last-round knockout. Obviously, Taylor still had some fight in him. But do your respective performances against Taylor make you think you would do well in a fight against Froch. Does that even cross your mind?
Kelly Pavlik: Oh yeah! I hear Froch running his yap. He’s got enough stuff on his plate in front of him right now that he has to deal with. But he runs his mouth about me, that I’m not even on his level and this and that. It’s just funny to me because, again, I know you can’t go off of one performance, but the only measuring stick or common opponent we’ve had was Taylor. And Taylor didn’t come close to doing to me what he did to Froch in that fight. I mean, at points Taylor was just leaning to the side and firing the hook and cracking Froch and he couldn’t do it against me.
The thing with Froch is that he’s not really a slick boxer. He’ll try to be with me because of the Hopkins and Martinez fights, but that’s not gonna happen. It’s not his cup of tea. I mean, Taylor hurt him and Taylor’s got some pop. But Taylor dropped him and everyone talks about his chin, but I think after so many hard right hands that’ll catch him, I don’t know if his chin will hold up, but that’ll be a great fight. If that fight ever happens, I think it’d be a great fight for the fans. I think Froch and I will suck it up and try to go to war and we’ll do it.
I’d say over the past few years, any time I’ve read anything about you, there’s been a negative vibe to it. It was either about the 2 losses, the outside of the ring stuff, the fights called off, the infection, that’s all anyone has heard or read in 2-3 years and a lot of people got swept up in this big wave of negativity. These are the same people who jumped on the bandwagon after the knockouts of Miranda and Taylor. How do you feel about that?
Kelly Pavlik: I have mixed feelings about it. To a point, it upsets me. I had two losses and if you take the two losses that I had: One was to a guy going down as an all-time legend in Hopkins and the other was to the current top 2 or 3 pound-for-pound fighter in the world. So, I mean, those are my only two losses and that was a competitive fight with Martinez. It was definitely an off night against Hopkins for me and I won’t get into it because I don’t want to sound like I’m making excuses. But you can’t have an off night against a guy like Hopkins and, unfortunately, I did. He took advantage of it very well.
There are these other guys. I hate to…I’m not putting these guys down by no means, but look at Miguel Cotto. Cotto gets pummeled in both fights (against Margarito and Pacquiao). I mean bad—almost career-ending. He turns right back around and fights for a world title and there aren’t much harsh things said about him. You turn around and see Manny Pacquiao with 3 losses, so all your greats have losses…
Even with Froch. He might have gotten the win against Dirrell, but then he lost to Kessler and no one was being too hard on him.
Kelly Pavlik: They all have these losses, but it’s O.K.—they’re allowed to. I go in and lose to two very, very good fighters. It ain’t like I lost to a guy who’s in contention for a title fight or anything like that. I lost to a guy who is one of the better fighters in the sport in the past 3 decades and it’s like frustrating to me, you know? It bothers me to a point, but at the same time I guess the only thing you can do is go out and have a good performance and get back on track and dominate and perform again.
But to me, it is kinda confusing. Like I say, I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but these guys not only get beaten, but get pummeled and they’re right back in a title shot. There is not much negativity being written about them. For instance, Cotto losing to Margarito. I mean, Margarito is not a Martinez or Hopkins. He’s a very durable and tough fighter, but right now—he’s not them. I guess it’s just the way it goes and I can’t be bothered by that, you know? I just gotta keep moving.
Then again, these are the same people who will get right back with the program if you happen to score a good win or two against a top super middleweight. Will you look at the adulation a little differently the second time around if it happens?
Kelly Pavlik: Yeah, the main thing is, like here in Youngstown, you have the same thing. You have such a small town and there is a lot of negativity in a small town, especially a struggling town. You get some negativity, but at the same time, my loyal fans and the support that you get from this town is unlike anything you’ll get anywhere else. It helps. I know who the true fans are and like I said before, those who jumped off the bandwagon, they asked me if I care and what happens if they do jump back? And my view is I hope they never do. I don’t need ‘em. I don’t want ‘em. They’re not the ones paying me at the end of the night.
I’m saying it happens in all sports. Peyton Manning goes out and has a bad game and you get that armchair quarterback sitting at a computer saying “Ah, he sucks! He’s a bum! He’s done!” That happens—people will jump on, people will jump off and I can’t lose sleep over it. At some points it’s frustrating, but like you said, when I start winning again—they’ll jump back on.
Does it give you encouragement to look at the pound-for-pound lists and see guys like Pacquiao, Hopkins, Marquez and Klitschko—guys who have more losses than you? Does it give you motivation to think it’s possible to overcome these defeats and get back to the top?
Kelly Pavlik: Oh yeah, it really does. Even looking at Martinez in his last two performances, taking nothing away from Martinez with the things I’ve said. Obviously, he’s a great fighter, but I didn’t think he hit that hard to be honest with you. There’s some guys in my career that I thought hit harder, but he’s a slick boxer. He’s a smart fighter.
I see how Martinez dominated Williams and his last opponent and to see how I was doing with him, you know, until I hit the wall. That even gives me motivation. I still think, “He didn’t seem like he was all that when I was fighting him.” I still haven’t “got it.” That gives me a lot of motivation, it really does. I mean, these guys have 6, 5, 3, 2 losses. I know I’m right up there. I was right in the fight with Martinez and I could still be. I beat a great fighter in Miranda. I beat a great fighter in Taylor and I’m still there.
You look at another guy I know, Marco Antonio Rubio, (whom Pavlik beat after 9 rounds in 2009) he’s got a tough fight coming up against a hot prospect out of Canada (David Lemieux). He has been on a tear and he’s getting ready to fight in a WBC title eliminator. So we’ll see how he ends up doing, if he ends up winning. Those are things that are like measuring sticks to me.
I mean, I definitely still have the motivation. I’m not done. I still got a lot of goals and a lot of things I need to accomplish for my own personal satisfaction.