Kelly Pavlik: 'It would be a great honor to step in the ring with Andre Ward'
By John J. Raspanti, Doghouse Boxing (Oct 19, 2012)
Kelly Pavlik
Former middleweight champion Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik is waiting at his home in Youngstown, Ohio for the phone to ring.

Rumors have been circulating about a possible showdown between Pavlik, and super middleweight champion Andre “S.O.G” Ward early next year.  

Pavlik, 30, has lost only two fights in his 12-year professional career. He’s anxious to get back to work with trainer Robert Garcia. Pavlik feels that deciding to work with Garcia was the best decision he’s ever made.

“He’s shown me things that I never really learned in boxing,” said Pavlik to on the phone last week. “Most of the things I learned in boxing I taught myself. He’s taught me about the repetition of doing something. I just don’t do two rounds on the pads anymore.

“He makes me go six, seven rounds, again and again. When he moves me to the bag, he makes sure I do the same things. He’s taught me about angles. I’ve learned about countering,” said Pavlik, who brutally knocked out defending champion Jermain Taylor five years ago to capture the middleweight championship of the world.

Both Pavlik and Taylor were undefeated that night. Pavlik beat Taylor in a rematch five months later. He lost his crown to Sergio Martinez in 2010 via a unanimous decision. He floored Martinez in round six but was unable to capitalize. His other loss was to future Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins.

The former champion learned quickly to leave his ego at the door since joining Garcia.

“I’m always open to learn. One thing about boxing you can never stop learning,” Pavlik said. “Unlike other people, I always keep my mind open. I’ve seen a lot and been through a lot in my career. I’ve learned more working with Robert then anyone else. I’m not knocking anyone down.

“Robert watches you and corrects things. Training with Robert and being in Youngstown is like two different worlds. He’s busy but he makes time for me. He works. He stands on the apron and watches me.”

Pavlik was anxious to fight Martinez in a rematch but not at 160-pounds.

“I can’t get down to one hundred and sixty,” Pavlik said. “It was worse then my staph infection. It almost killed me. On the Wednesday before the fight, I was fifteen pounds over the limit. I got my weight down but my legs felt weak. I told my wife, ‘I’m done.’ “

Nevertheless, Pavlik’s effort was spirited that night.

“I was doing pretty well until I ran out of gas,” Pavlik said. “I can’t take anything away from Sergio. He’s a great fighter.”

Last month Edwin “La Bomba” Rodriguez called out Pavlik after his TKO victory over Jason Escalera. Pavlik felt a tinge of disrespect from the 27-year-old Rodriguez.

“I was angry and kind of ran him (Rodriguez) down in another interview,” Pavlik said. “But, don’t get me wrong, the kid is a tough fighter. I did think he lost to Will Kaminsky. (a fighter Pavlik beat by a wide decision last July). He’s a game fighter.

“I didn’t think he was that fast. I’m forty and two. My losses have been to two future Hall of Famers. I don’t think taking a tune-up fight is the best move for me right now. I’ve had three fights in four months. Who’s Edwin Rodriguez?”

But, the fight Pavlik wants more then anything is with Ward.

“He would have to understand that he’s going to have a fight on his hands,” said Pavlik with a chuckle. “He’s always been a class act. He’s always spoken well about me. In my opinion, he’s one of the greatest fighters of all-time.

“The way he cleaned up the super middleweight division, I mean, that’s a loaded division. He tore up that division and beat everybody easily. Then, with what he did to Dawson, it would be and honor to step in the ring with him. I mean why wouldn’t I?”

Ward’s style is a mixture of quickness, intelligence, and overall ring generalship. Pavlik admits to being a fan of Ward.

“I think he’s a phenomenal fighter,” he said. “The kid can flat-out fight. He’s not a big puncher, but he can hurt you because he’s so fast. Everybody says I’m slow, but I was right there with Martinez. Andre Ward doesn’t move as much as Martinez. He’ll be right there.”

A few months ago, various boxing websites reported that IBF champion Carl Froch, and Pavlik, were negotiating a fight. Pavlik has no problem fighting Froch, but not in the champions hometown of Nottingham, England.

“I’d have a better chance of winning the Masters Tournament then winning over there in Nottingham,” Pavlik said.

Though some feel that Pavlik’s career is winding down, the former champion believes that working with trainer Garcia has inserted a new spirit into his bones. Can a veteran fighter of 12-years still improve?

Pavlik thinks so.

“I thought in my last two fights my boxing ability got better,” he said. “I thought I dominated the fight with Kaminsky. If you go back and watch it, I won at least seven rounds. I beat him convincingly.

“I have progressed. I can throw combinations to head and body now. I can counter punch,” said Pavlik.

Maybe, an old dog can learn new tricks.

Follow and visit John on Twitter:!/johnboxing1

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