Feature story by Antonio Castro
Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik is dealing with an issue he’s never had to deal with before as a professional prizefighter.
The last time in the squared circle, Pavlik was battered for 12 rounds at the hands of Bernard Hopkins, so this will be the first time that Pavlik has had to prepare for a fight dealing with a loss.
Some fighters can handle it.
Others are never the same after losing the “0” in the loss column.
On Saturday, February 21st at the Chevrolet Centre in Youngstown, Ohio, Pavlik will have to answer his fans, the media and himself as to how he moves forward after his first defeat when he defends his middleweight championship of the world against top contender Marco Antonio Rubio.
Many ringside observers who watched as Hopkins won round after round, coming forward and scoring repeatedly with hooks to the head and body while Pavlik missed with jabs and his powerful trademark right hands, thought that “The Ghost” did not look himself.
In fact, Pavlik had to deal with two issues before he stepped into the ring that night. He was coming off an elbow injury that happened a couple of weeks before the bout while sparring plus he also had to deal with a bout of bronchitis during fight week.
Despite these setbacks, Pavlik went ahead and took the fight as opposed to postponing it.
Despite the result, Pavlik doesn’t regret taking the fight.
“I don’t regret that I took the fight,” declares Pavlik. “Obviously I took it, so I can’t bitch about it. Fighters do that (postpone fights). Fighters have pulled out of fights with nagging injuries to their hands. That’s just one of the learning experiences that you go through. That was the first time I had to go through something like that, and of all people, against Hopkins.”
Despite being physically strong, boxers need to be mentally strong as well. There have been plenty of boxers that have had all of the physical gifts in the world, but because they lacked the mental skills needed, they faltered, or failed to live up to expectations.
So far, Pavlik hasn’t had to deal with many mental issues.
Dealing with a loss, however, can put the mental pressure over the edge.
Pavlik feels that he has become stronger mentally since the loss.
“Where I’ve become mentally strong is I don’t have any hesitation,” explains Pavlik. “I don’t have any fear. There’s no holding back on anything. You have to be mentally strong. You have to take the loss out of your head. It ain’t like I lost to a guy that was just coming up. I lost to Hopkins. That’s still not okay that I lost to him, but it’s just a fact that I have to move on.”
Confidence is also something that a boxer needs when he steps into the squared circle.
After a loss, again, a fighter’s confidence can be down.
That’s not the case with Pavlik.
He has the utmost confidence, and feels that he cannot be defeated.
“I still feel that way (invincible). When I get myself prepared the right way and I’m there where I’m supposed to be I still feel that it will be very, very, very hard to beat me,” states Pavlik.
Despite being beaten by Hopkins, there’s no hesitation on whether or not Kelly would fight Hopkins again.
“Definitely I would fight Hopkins again. I definitely would,” proclaims Pavlik.
Pavlik has been known for not only his intense training regimen, but also for his unorthodox training methods. Some of these practices may have been too much when he prepared for a veteran boxer such as Hopkins. Pavlik even acknowledged as such.
“We kind of overdid it (training) a bit for the Hopkins fight,” says the fighter. “When you’re in there with Bernard, a guy who’s crafty, who’s a veteran, who’s slick, you’ve got to train more on the boxing part instead of strength training and killing yourself to be strong.”
Dealing with a loss and rebounding back to superstardom will be at the forefront of what many eyes will be focusing on when Pavlik steps into the ring to battle Rubio.
For Kelly Pavlik, it will be business as usual.