Kelly Pavlik’s Personal Puzzle
By Joseph “The Mad Boxing Genius” Torres (May 19, 2010) Doghouse Boxing  
On July 16th, 2005, Jermain Taylor who had been hyped up for years as being the heir to Bernard Hopkins’ middleweight throne defeated the long reigning champion. With the public’s imagination captured by this Olympic bronze medalist, he was touted as the future of professional boxing. Fast forward four lackluster defenses later, Taylor encountered a “Ghost” that would change his life forever.

During Taylor’s run as the middleweight champ, rumblings started about a kid from Youngstown, Ohio who was terrorizing
the middleweight ranks. Kelly Pavlik, known as “The Ghost” was an entertaining, blue collar fighter with paralyzing knockout power. He took on and defeated all comers including top contenders like Edison Miranda (TKO 7). Then on September 29th, 2007, Pavlik lifted the title from “The Heir Apparent” Jermain Taylor in spectacular fashion by coming off the canvas and stopping him in the 7th round. Many fans and critics alike were convinced that “The Ghost” was the “true” next great middleweight champ. Unfortunately, Pavlik’s run did not prove any better than his predecessor.

During Pavlik’s 2 ½ years at the top, he defended the title only 4 times (mostly against limited opposition). In his last defense against Jr. Middleweight titlist Sergio Martinez last month, he was thoroughly outclassed and lost by a unanimous decision. He also suffered a humiliating loss to Bernard Hopkins at a catch-weight of 170lbs. Though injuries and weight issues have been deemed as the culprit for Pavlik’s uneventful title reign, the damage had been done. Pavlik’s path to superstardom had been derailed even leaving some to question whether he ever had the goods to begin with.

It’s now been reported that Pavlik will waive his rights to an immediate rematch against Sergio Martinez and move up. Last Tuesday, when it was decided that he would not exercise his rematch clause, the Pavlik camp was still undecided on whether he would move up to super-middleweight or give it a go in the light-heavyweight division. Regardless of which division he settles into, it is fair to question whether or not he’ll be able to achieve the level at the higher weights that he was supposed to reach at 160lbs.

What do we know right now?

We know that Pavlik’s only two losses have come by the hands of very slick and athletic fighters. If you look up and down both divisions, the majority of the top boxers fit the profile of slick and athletic. In the super-middleweight division you have cuties such as Andre Ward, Andre Dirrell and Lucian Bute. In the light-heavyweight division you have the likes of Chad Dawson, Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal. All of these warriors would stylistically give The Ghost horrid memories of his two losses.

Another thing we know is that the success Pavlik had as a middleweight can be credited to his size. At 6’ 2 ½ and 160lbs he’s a beast but at 168lbs or higher, he’s the norm.

In a sport where managers are known to protect their fighters and move them carefully, Cameron Dunkin (Pavlik’s manager) has his work cut-out for him, especially since Pavlik and his trainer Jack Loew aren’t the type of men to shy away from a challenge. There are some fighters “The Ghost” can stylistically compete and make money with. Men like Arthur Abraham, Mikkel Kessler, Carl Froch, Adrian Diaconu, Tavoris Cloud and Glen Johnson can bring him some success. However victory against these world class fighters isn’t any guarantee and if he succeeds (and that’s a big if) he will eventually have to contend with the slicksters of these divisions in order to live up to his once undeniable potential.

Kelly Pavlik appears to still have the drive to make some serious noise in this industry. If he can, it couldn’t happen to a classier guy. However, based on his future plans and what we know for sure, it is going to be one hell of a puzzle for him and his team to piece together!

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