Kelly Pavlik Begins His Rise Back to the Top Against Aaron Jaco

Mick AkersAnalyst IMarch 31, 2012

LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 07:  Kelly Pavlik celebrates after defeating Alfonso Lopez by majority decision in the super middleweight fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 7, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Once of the bigger names in the sport of boxing, Kelly Pavlik has had a battle with personal demons as of late, giving his successful career in the ring standing eight-count.

Pavlik is 29 years old and has enough time left in his prime to make a return to the top of the sport he once dominated.

Pavlik (37-2, 32 KOs) started off winning his first 34 professional fights (31 by KO), but then a loss to ageless wonder, Bernard Hopkins, gave Pavlik his first defeat as a pro, and the first problem to plague Pavlik's life over the course of the next several years.

Winning his next two fights, Pavlik then had an allergic reaction to some antibiotics he was taking for a staph infection and nearly died, preventing Pavlik from taking on Paul Williams in early 2010.

After recovering from his near-death experience, Pavlik took on Sergio Martinez, putting up his Ring, WBC an WBO middleweight titles on line.

Martinez eventually won by unanimous decision, sending Pavlik into a career-threatening downward spiral.

After oddly turning down a fight with up-and-coming Daryl Cunningham—as Pavlik rejected the $1.35 million purse offer as too small—Pavlik was charged with a DUI in Dec. 2011 after wrecking an ATV into a light post. That would lead him to checking into the Betty Ford Center to curtail his alcohol problem.

Top Rank president Bob Arum thought the best way to get Pavlik's career and life back on track was to get him out of his hometown of Youngstown, OH, to escape all the temptations that he had around him in his comfortable, home environment.

"We realized he deserved a chance to prove himself again, but only if he was willing to separate himself from the town, because we believed it could never work if he stayed in (Youngstown)," Arum told USA Today.

"So Cameron [Dunkin—Pavlik's manager] had all these fighters in Oxnard (Calif.), and he was close to (trainer) Robert Garcia, and so we paid for Pavlik to go to Oxnard."

Pavlik will take on Aaron Jaco (15-2, 5 KOs) in his comeback fight at 170 pounds, but is not declaring  a weight class for himself as of yet.

One would imagine that Pavlik would like another shot at Sergio Martinez, as Pavlik put in a valiant effort in the first bout with the current middleweight champ.

If Pavlik is able to show he is able to return to form, then a rematch with Martinez, the widely recognized No. 3 pound-for-pound in the world, would seem like a logical decision two or three fights down the line.