World middleweight champion Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik returns home, to Youngstown State University’s Beeghly Center, on Saturday, December 19, to defend his titles against top-rated contender Miguel Espino. Promoted by Top Rank, the Pavlik-Espino world title tilt will headline an all-action two-country world championship doubleheader, produced and distributed Live on Pay-Per-View, beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT. The suggested retail price is $39.95. Tickets, priced at $208, $158, $108 and $58, including $8 processing fee, go on sale Tomorrow! Wednesday, November 25, at 9 a.m. ET, online at www.Tickets.com. They can also be purchased at the Beeghly Center box office, beginning Monday, November 30.
Photos: Chris Farina – Top Rank
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The pay-per-view broadcast will open from the Arena Itson in Ciudad Obregon, Sonora, Mexico with WBC super featherweight champion Humberto Soto (49-7-2, 32 KOs), of Los Mochis, Mexico taking on two-time world champion Jesus Chavez (44-6, 30 KOs), of Austin, Tex., in a 10-round lightweight bout, followed by a rumble between WBA interim bantamweight champion Neomar Cermeño (18-0, 10 KOs), of Anzoategui, Venezuela, defending his title against Alejandro Valdez (22-3-2, 16 KOs), of Ciudad Obregon, Mexico. The pay-per-view action will shift to Youngstown where undefeated Top-10 super welterweight contender Vanes Martirosyan (25-0, 16 KOs), of Glendale, Calif., will challenge NABF super welterweight champion Willie Lee (17-5, 10 KOs), of New Orleans, in a 12-round bout, followed by the main event, Pavlik vs. Espino.
“It’s great to be back training and it’s great to be defending my titles in Youngstown,” said Pavlik, who has been sidelined for much of the year by various problems from a nagging staph infection in his right hand. “Jack Loew and I are taking nothing for granted which is why we decided to set up training in Las Vegas. We are 110% focused on Espino and the best way to avoid the distractions of the holidays is to isolate ourselves in the desert. I’m not going to allow Espino to be the Grinch who took my world title.”
“It’s going to be ‘Seasons Beatings’ for Señor Espino. Nothing but lumps of coal in his stocking plus a few lumps on his head” added Loew.
“I’m very grateful for this opportunity and I intend to make the most of it,” said Espino. “All fighters dream of the chance to fight for a world title and now I am living that dream. I know I am the underdog in this fight but that is what is inspiring me. No sacrifice will be too large in preparing for this fight. If Pavlik takes me lightly he’ll be making a big mistake.”
“Kelly Pavlik is a superstar because he has always accepted the biggest challenges,” said Todd duBoef, president of Top Rank. “He’s endured a lot since his last title defense. To come back from his staph infection and the life-threatening complications he suffered due to his allergic reaction to the antibiotic prescribed is the stuff of legends. In life, just as in the ring, Kelly Pavlik may get knocked down, but you can never count him out. We are thrilled to be able to present this two-country world championship doubleheader. It has the makings of a great night of boxing, whether you’re seeing it live or live on pay-per-view.”
Pavlik (35-1, 31 KOs), the star from Youngstown, Ohio, joins former lightweight champions Harry Arroyo and Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini as hometown world champions. Pavlik Ghost wrote a career year in 2007 against three of the best who boasted a combined record of 74-4-3 (55 KOs) when he faced them. The consensus “Fighter of the Year” for 2007, Pavlik knocked out Jose Luis Zertuche (19-3-2, 14 KOs) and Edison Miranda (28-1, 24 KOs), in world title elimination bouts, earning him the right to become Jermain Taylor’s mandatory challenger. His year-end finale, a seventh-round stoppage of the previously undefeated Taylor, to claim the world middleweight championship, was selected as the “Fight of the Year” by the Boxing Writers Association of America and extended Pavlik’s two-year victory by knockout streak to nine bouts. Pavlik defeated Taylor handily in their rematch in February 2008 to solidify his claim as one of boxing’s top pound for pound fighters. He has successfully defended the title twice, both by knockout, against Gary Lockett and Marco Antonio Rubio, the No. 1 contenders and mandatory challengers for the World Boxing Organization (WBO) and the World Boxing Council (WBC), respectively.
Espino (20-2-1, 9 KOs), from North Hollywood, Calif., was featured in the first season of “The Contender” on NBC. He enters this fight riding a four-year, 11-bout winning streak — the last four by knockout. He returns to the ring after one of his career-best victories, a sixth-round TKO of former two-time world champion Alejandro Garcia in his last fight, successfully defending his WBC Caribbean Boxing Federation middleweight title. Trained and managed by John Bray for the last 10 years, Espino has good skills and movement and experience against world-class opposition. He is currently world-rated No. 3 by the WBC.