By Antonio Castro
WBC/WBO Middleweight Champion Kelly Pavlik (35-1, 31 KO’s) held an open workout for the media and the public earlier this week at the Southside Boxing Club in Youngstown, Ohio as he prepared for his third title defense against WBC #3/WBO # 12 ranked middleweight Miguel Espino (20-2-1, 9 KO’s). The championship bout will take place on Saturday from the Beasley Center, located on the campus of Youngstown State University. Along with working out, Pavlik also was made available to talk about numerous topics, ranging from his upcoming opponent, to the fallout of his previous opponent, Paul Williams.
The hot topic surrounding Pavlik around boxing circles is that he never wanted to fight Paul Williams, especially after the fight with Espino was scheduled two weeks after the fight with Williams was postponed. Pavlik took a lot of time to set the record straight on what happened.
“We were supposed to fight Paul Williams on December 5th. The hand still wasn’t 100%. We asked him for another month to get ready, but he still took the fight (with Martinez) on December 5th. We weren’t looking to fight until the end of January or early February, and then the next thing you know, the WBO and the WBC said, Kelly you guys have to fight. You have to, or we’re stripping you of your title on the 19th. Usually we go eight weeks for a training camp. Now, it’s only five weeks,” Pavlik explained.
Unfortunately for boxing fans, Pavlik doesn’t have a lot of faith in the Williams matchup ever materializing again.
“It probably will never happen. He likes to walk around saying he’s the most feared fighter in boxing. We tried to fight him over and over. I ended up fighting Bernard Hopkins when I was supposed to fight Paul Williams. This time, I signed the contract to fight Paul Williams almost a month before he signed the contract. Then I had to push the fight back. I had proof from doctors. Now his camp is saying that I’ll never take the fight with him, or I’ll never give them a chance,” Pavlik stated.
The Champion, however, still feels that it would be in Williams best interest to take the fight.
“Here’s a kid who went from making 1.5 million dollars in Atlantic City at the Boardwalk Hall in front of maybe 10,000 people against me, but he took the fight with Martinez to fight in a ballroom for a million dollars less than what he would have made against me. So that goes to show you, Paul Williams needs me after this fight, I don’t need Paul Williams. I want the fight. That’s the best fight in the middleweight division right now,” said Pavlik.
As for the fight that Pavlik is preparing for now, don’t expect Pavlik to take Espino for granted.
“He’s got a lot of heart. He’s in great shape, but he has a lot of flaws. He gets hit a lot. He seems like he’s got a good chin. I’ve seen him take some good punches. He’s the type of guy where you’ve got to be 100% ready when you fight him,” suggested Pavlik.
With the hand just getting back to normal, Pavlik is still taking a chance. He knows this. Pavlik opened up about his hand and those that never believed there was a problem with it.
“I’m just being honest about the staff infection in my hand. I don’t think that a doctor that works at the Cleveland Clinic making about $900,000 a year is going to lie about a staph infection and take a chance on losing his career. People that say that my hand wasn’t that bad are imbeciles. They’re derelicts,” said Pavlik.
After sparring eight rounds, Pavlik said his hand felt great, after saying it was a little tender on Sunday. He’s cramping an eight week camp into five weeks, and he’s also dealing with some questioning his heart for the first time in his career. On the 19th, Pavlik will look to take out his frustrations on Espino.
Will he be able to put all the distractions aside and take out an opponent that he should have no problem in defeating? Is the hand back normal? Those questions and more will be answered.