Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Pavlik Preparing for a Hero’s Return

Kelly Pavlik is returning to the ring for the first time since losing to Bernard Hopkins this past October.

For Kelly ‘The Ghost’ Pavlik it’s a new year, he’ll be training in a new gym and he and trainer Jack Loew have a new outlook.

Pavlik opened training camp on Monday at the new Southside Boxing Club in Youngstown, Ohio and he is doing his best to put the painful debacle against Bernard Hopkins behind him. Pavlik is looking forward to defending his 160-pound titles and taking care of business against the tough, veteran Marco Antonio Rubio on February 21st.

Loew recently opened a new and improved version of his Southside Boxing Club which is several times larger than the cramped quarters that he and Kelly trained out of from the time he was an amateur teenager up until his most recent fight, the losing effort against Hopkins in October.

The Rubio bout is going to take place at the 7,000 seat Chevrolet Centre in Pavlik’s hometown of Youngstown, Ohio and the word around the city is that the fight will be sold out within hours. Tickets go on sale first thing Saturday morning and prices are scaled from $50 to $500. If the fight fulfills predictions and the facility is a full house it will be the first time it will have been at capacity since it opened in 2005.

Youngstown's favorite son will be putting his WBO and WBC title belts up for grabs against the tough as nails Marco Antonio Rubio.

The fight versus Rubio, the #1 contender in the WBC ratings, will be Pavlik’s first back at home since he became the middleweight champion in September 2007. Pavlik fought at the Chevy Centre once previously when he knocked out Lenord Pierre in the fourth round in November 2006.

One of the big concerns for Team Pavlik will be making the 160-pound weight limit. The fight against Hopkins was contested at a catch-weight of 170 pounds and Pavlik appeared lethargic and out of sorts at the higher poundage.

After the Hopkins fight Jack Loew, promoter Bob Arum and manager Cameron Dunkin all indicated that Pavlik belongs at 160. However, on more than one occasion, Pavlik has mentioned that getting his large frame down to the middleweight limit has been taxing.

At a public appearance a month after the Hopkins fight, Pavlik noted that getting back down to middleweight could present a problem for him.

“I won’t train any differently than I usually do, but my weight is one of my biggest concerns because I’ll need to get down to 160 from where I am right now, which is 175 pounds,” he said.

Pavlik’s homecoming title defense against Rubio will be a big event for Youngstown. It will mark the first world title fight to be held in the city in nearly a quarter century. The last title bout in the former boxing hotbed was when then IBF lightweight champ Harry Arroyo stopped Charlie ‘White Lightning’ Brown in the eighth round at Struthers High School in September 1984.

January 2009


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