Team Pavlik: We Tried to Make the Paul Williams Fight
By Brandon Estrict, Doghouse Boxing (Feb 18, 2010) Photo © Chris Farina/Top Rank  
A little less than one week ago, it was announced that The Ring Middleweight Champion of the world, Kelly ‘The Ghost’ Pavlik, had come to terms for an April 17 fight with WBC Light Middleweight titleholder Sergio Martinez. The bout, set to take place at middleweight, will be broadcast live from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ as the feature in an HBO World Championship Boxing split-site doubleheader. The opening bout of the evening pits former Pavlik victim, Edison Miranda, against IBF belt-holder Lucian Bute.

Pavlik, 36-1 (32), will be defending his Ring, WBC, and WBO titles for the fourth time since seizing them from Jermain Taylor in late-2007. Martinez, 44-2-2 (24), fought his last fight at middleweight and lost a close decision to Paul ‘The Punisher’ Williams in what was an early favorite for Fight of the Year.

Here is where it gets complicated.

Williams had been scheduled to fight Pavlik in October of last year, but the fight was moved to December at the last minute reportedly due to a staph infection in the right hand of Pavlik. As the December date drew closer, Pavlik’s camp revealed that the infection hadn’t completely healed and requested the bout be rescheduled for two weeks later on December 19. Williams and his handlers decided they’d waited long enough and instead kept the original HBO date, tapping Martinez as the replacement opponent.

Martinez, who’s no slouch himself, would provide Williams quite the scare. After being knocked down by Williams in the first round, he rallied and dropped Paul hard to cap the opening stanza. It was the first time Williams had been legitimately knocked down in his professional career and he looked to be in trouble. Williams came out shaky to start round two and Martinez continued to hammer the Punisher with power punches. This pattern would repeat in the third, but Williams was eventually able to regain his composure and get back into the fight.

The rest of the rounds produced a real knockdown-drag out affair with each man having his moments. The action was intense and Martinez fought valiantly but by the end of the night, judges believed that Williams had done enough to win. By the skin of his teeth, he escaped with a controversial majority decision.

Two weeks later, Pavlik went on to uphold his end of the bargain. He was indeed able to fight on the date he’d promised Williams he would be and crushed an overmatched Miguel Espino, stopping him in five rounds before his home crowd in Youngstown, Ohio. Now that everything had fallen into place we’d surely get a Pavlik-Williams match-up right?

Wrong! With Pavlik-Martinez finalized and Williams currently looking into fights Luis Collazo and Kermit Cintron, each side has pointed a finger at the other over the matchup falling through a third time. I was recently able to catch up with Pavlik’s long-time trainer, Jack Loew, who spoke on the Martinez fight, and gave his side of the story concerning Williams.

BE: Jack, welcome back to Doghouse and thanks for taking the time. Obviously you guys are going to fight Sergio Martinez next, but seeing as how you had a deal in place with Paul Williams and he beat Martinez, why not make the fight with Williams now?

We tried to fight Paul but for some reason, I guess he thought he looked so spectacular against Martinez that he deserved more. Not that it wasn’t a great fight, but I thought he lost the fight. It sure as hell didn’t make him look like some superstar, that’s for sure. And all of a sudden, instead of agreeing to the deal we had before, he wanted more money and his promoter wanted more money. (Bob) Arum said no and that’s our promoter so we went with Martinez, who I thought won the fight anyway.

BE: What do you think of Martinez as an opponent? Obviously, Kelly had trouble with the slick style of Bernard Hopkins, and Martinez has those same qualities combined with good speed.

I think Martinez is a more dangerous fighter than Paul. Like you said, he’s slick, he moves, and he’s very quick. He will not stand and bang with us, he’s going to try and present some problems. I think in the early going the fight will interesting but Kelly’s strength and power will show up late. We’re not gonna go in there, like in the Hopkins fight, and follow him around. We’re not going to just stop and run into everything without firing back this time. I think everyone going off of what happened in the Hopkins fight, thinking we can’t handle a guy that moves, are gonna be surprised with what happens in this Martinez fight.

BE: Getting back to the original issue, and the cause of the fights with Williams being postponed, how are the hands? What’s going on with Kelly and how is he feeling today?

His hand feels great! He’s already been running for about the last 3 weeks and we’re going into camp the last week of February, which will give us 8 weeks. Kelly feels good though, the hand is healthy, he’s healthy and there won’t be no excuses. We’re ready to go.

BE: Obviously with a fight like this, you don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself. But I’ll ask if you guys do get by Martinez, what’s next for Kelly?

Well, after we beat Martinez, Kelly wants to fight Felix Sturm later this year. We’re not looking past Sergio, he’s a very good fighter and it’s gonna be a good fight but we’re confident we will win. We also want (Lucian) Bute, to test the waters at super middleweight, see how we do, and then we’d love to be done with that right in time to fight the winner of the Super Six Championship.

BE: Sounds like you guys have big plans this year.

Kelly won’t be around forever you know. We got through a bad 2009 but 2010 is gonna be the year of the Ghost!

BE: Anything you’d like to say to our readers in closing?

It’s nothing but marquee fights from here on out and that’s what Kelly wants. They’ve mentioned guys like Winky Wright and whoever, and we want nothing but marquee names from now on. Tune in to HBO April 17, it’s going to be a great fight with Martinez and I think 2010 is gonna be our year again!

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