By Ray Ender
I remember when it was Kelly Pavlik, Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto being touted as the future superstars of boxing. All of them were regarded as people’s champs and gave their all in the ring. Manny Pacquiao or Pacman as he is known to the boxing world, went on to be one of the biggest draws in boxing alongside Floyd Mayweather Jr., Miguel Cotto suffered a few tough losses one to Antonio Margarito and another to Manny Pacquiao, but he bounced back by winning the WBA 154-pound title against Yuri Foreman and stopping Ricardo Mayorga. As for Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik he disappeared from sight after losing to Bernard Hopkins and Sergio Martinez his life has never been the same.
Pavlik had all the makings of a megastar, he was a humble blue collar type fighter with a never say die attitude in the ring. His biggest moment was when he was the underdog in his first fight with Jermain Taylor and came back from an early knockdown to stop Taylor for the middleweight title in dramatic fashion.
Pavlik grew up in Youngstown, Ohio a town with hardworking and humble residents that suffered economically from the Deindustrialization of the steel industry. He fought under the radar for a while, and he was built up by legendary boxing promoter Bob Arum, who had so much confidence in Kelly, Arum was already labeling him the next great American star even before he beat Jermain Taylor for the middleweight title.
What Pavlik, Pacquiao, and Cotto represented was the good of boxing. These men were the positive things about boxing, but unlike Pacquiao and Cotto, Pavlik changed as a person or maybe he had us fooled and he was always a selfish human being? The best way to see a man’s true nature is to see how he handles success, and so far Pacquiao and Cotto remained the same despite the fame and riches, but Pavlik is acting like he is the biggest star in all of boxing. He has suffered from alcoholism, getting into fights with his own brother, and pulling out of fights last minute, but this last move by Pavlik has lost him the few fans that he still had — he canceled his fight for August 6th on Showtime against an unknown southpaw named Darryl Cunningham claiming he was being underpaid by Top Rank (they offered him $50,000 for the Cunningham fight and around $1.35 million for a fight against champion Lucian Bute). Kelly claims when he found out that Mikkel Kessler was offered $3 million to fight Lucian Bute he felt that was enough to make him pull the plug last minute on Saturday’s fight.
Pavlik believes he is still a big name draw, and that if a guy like Kessler who isn’t a big name can get a $3 million offer to fight Bute he should get more than the guaranteed $1.35 million he was offered for the fight.
Pavlik needs to come back down to earth. He has to realize many boxers have been in his shoes before, and had to rebuild their careers and start from the bottom up, George Foreman had to fight in ballrooms and school gyms when he had his comeback after a decade retired; Roberto Duran had to take the shorter money when he suffered a few devastating defeats; and Erik Morales and Zab Judah were not making close to a million dollars for their recent fights. All of these superstar boxers had to prove their worth again! Especially after losing big fights. Pavlik isn’t drawing in large audiences anymore, so where is the logic in him demanding more money when he isn’t a selling tickets like he used to?
I don’t have a problem with Pavlik demanding more money, the problem is with the way he went about it. If Kelly had a problem with his pay, he should have spoken to Top Rank privately, instead of pulling a childish and unprofessional move like this. It’s hard to believe this was the same man who brought a lot of inspiration and pride to the people of Youngstown. It’s a shame to see a man with so much talent and potential waste away like this in such a selfish manner.
“It’s not about fighting for Youngstown. It’s about me.” – Kelly Pavlik
I remember Pavlik drawing inspiration from the people of Youngstown, just like Manny Pacquiao is inspired by the people of the Philippines. Maybe Pavlik should take note, Manny makes over $20 million a fight, but he never forgot where he came from, and I think Kelly should never forget where he came from either.
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