Former World Middleweight Champion Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik, his trainer Jack Loew and Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum participated in an international media conference call on Friday to discuss Pavlik’s upcoming return to boxing on Saturday, May 7 at the sold out MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nev.
Pavlik (36-2, 32 KOs), of Youngstown, OH, will make his long-awaited return to the ring when he takes on undefeated WBC Continental Americas super middleweight champion Alfonso “El Tigre” Lopez (21-0, 16 KOs), of Cut and Shoot, TX.
The 10-round Pavlik-Lopez super middleweight rumble will headline the Manny Pacquiao vs. Shane Mosley WBO welterweight championship undercard.
What the participants had to say on Friday:
Bob Arum: “We really anticipate May 7, one because Pacquiao-Mosley, we believe, is going to be a great fight, great event, and secondly because it’s marks the return to boxing after an absence of Kelly Pavlik – one of the most popular fighters in boxing. Kelly has been training with Jack Loew in Youngstown, Ohio. I want to welcome Kelly back to the boxing stage.”
Kelly Pavlik: “I want to thank Top Rank and the rest of my team. It’s an honor to be a part of this card. It’s great to be back; I’m really, really excited. Training is going phenomenal right now. I haven’t had this much energy in a long time for a fight. I’m getting ready to get back on track and start making a noise for myself in the super middleweight division.
“Training is going great – everything is just falling right into place. The weight is perfect right now, the amount of running and sparring is better than it’s ever been – we’ve never had as easy a time getting this many rounds. My camp is going really good now, it’s really smooth. We don’t have to focus on going to 15 different gyms to make weight, we can focus on boxing and I think that’s going to make a big difference in this fight.”
Jack Loew: “Like Kelly said, we wanted to train like a fighter again, instead of training five times a day, four times a day, and four of them being about just trying to get the weight or keep the weight down. It’s great just getting our running in and our physical conditioning in and going to the gym and spending more time working on boxing. We had more rounds sparring for a 10-round fight than when we fought a title fight because he’s had so much energy. His step is back and it’s just the old Kelly back. It feels good and it’s a very comfortable weight for him. And I think that’s a huge key for him.”
Jack, are you surprised at how good Kelly is looking in the gym coming off of this long layoff?
JL: “No, I don’t think I’m surprised at all. We can train again as a normal athlete and we’re doing the right thing. Nobody can go through what we put him through, working him out so many different times a day. What we put him, through there’s not an athlete out there that could have done that and it finally caught up to him. I’m not surprised at all. He looks great and everything is back to normal.”
What is the impact of the layoff?
KP: “You know what, it’s surprising because I expected it to be that way and if was that way I wasn’t going to be frustrated, but everything fell right back into place quickly. I kept myself in shape, too. The last time I had a year off it was a different situation. There was a staph infection and then we had the reaction to it. I really wasn’t able to do anything constantly being on antibiotics. That wasn’t really a rest or my idea of taking a break or a year off.
"This time, it’s totally different. I come back now and my energy level is just totally different than what it’s been in the past. I’m able to do things in the gym now where before it was a struggle. Everything came back and it’s been very fluent. Granted, in the beginning in the first couple of times of sparring, some of the timing was off. But that’s going to happen and there’s nothing you can do about it. But it all came back pretty quick this time and everything is going good right now.”
Where you able to do physical exercises during the time you were away in rehab?
KP: “Very little in the time that I had. When I did I just lifted weights and did some other exercises that I would do at the boxing gym because there wasn’t much else to do. I kept myself moving. I wasn’t rusty or falling apart – I didn’t have a big belly or anything else. I was pretty healthy.”
Is super middleweight your division long term? And do you see your power being the same there as middleweight?
KP: “I see it being the same. Actually, I see it being even better. It’s not like I’m moving up to go to 168 and I’m adding weight on. I still have to lose a considerable amount of weight to make 168. When you walk around 195 that’s still walking around pretty heavy for a super middleweight or a light heavyweight. I don’t see the strength being an issue or power-punching.
“I think our strength and everything is going to be great at that weight class. It will be the same, if not better.”
There are a lot of super middleweights out there. When do you think you’ll be able to get in the ring with someone like Lucian Bute or someone from the Super Six?
BA: “Kelly is ready but the guy he’s fighting on May 7 is no pushover. He has a lot of knockouts, he’s a Texas kid, and that’s a tough chore. We’ll see how he does in that fight and then we’ll talk it over with the team and see who comes next. The super middleweight division is rich with talent and Kelly, I hope and believe, fits right in with all of them.
“You have to understand that there are a lot of great fighters out there in the super middleweight division, but with the exception of Bute in Canada, they’re not particularly big attractions in terms of ticket sales. In order for them to make a big ticket fight they have to have Kelly Pavlik. It’s not a question of who Kelly is going to go after, it’s a question of who the team wants Kelly to fight. These fighters in order to have a big fight have to fight Kelly Pavlik.”
What have you seen in Lopez’s style?
KP: “He’s a tough kid. He’ll try to box in there and he’ll try to move a little bit. The danger I see is he’s a hungry fighter and this is a golden opportunity for him. He’s no spring chicken in the sport and he’s getting the opportunity of a lifetime. He has a very good record so I think right now he’s coming in hungry for this fight like it’s going to be his last chance.
"Anytime you get a fighter like that you always have to be on your toes and ready for him. We’ve been watching him on film – he’s always in good shape, so we know that. He can go 12 hard rounds or 10 hard rounds. More so, from what I’ve seen, the kid comes to fight. Nothing phenomenal, but he’s a kid that you can’t take likely and you’ve got to be in shape to fight for 10 rounds.”
Are you going for the knockout?
KP: “I’m going to go in there and do what I always do. It’s what got me to where I’m at today. I’m going to go in there and just fight the way I fight. If I feel like I need to pick the pace up as the fight goes I’ll do that.
“We’ll see. It all depends. That’s the good thing about boxing – you have to have backup plans and you have to be able to think quick in that ring because it doesn’t always go the way that you want it to go. I’ve had the experience on the big stage and I think that’s going to be to my advantage.”
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with MP Promotions, Sugar Shane Mosley Promotions, Tecate and MGM Grand, the four-fight Mosley-Pacquiao pay-per-view extravaganza will be produced and distributed live on Showtime PPV.
Closed circuit tickets, priced at $50, are on sale and available at all Las Vegas MGM Resorts properties.
The Pacquiao vs. Mosley pay-per-view telecast, beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT, has a suggested retail price of $54.95, will be produced and distributed by Showtime PPV. The telecast will be available in HD-TV for those viewers who can receive HD. For Pacquiao vs. Mosley fight week updates, log on to www.sports.SHO.com or www.toprank.com.