World middleweight champion Kelly "The Ghost" Pavlik is only days away from his return to his old stomping ground, Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall, to defend his title against super welterweight champion Sergio Martinez. Both men were on hand to discuss the title fight at a press conference at Gallagher's Steakhouse in New York City.
Pavlik (36-1, 32 KOs) will be facing his toughest opponent since he was totally dominated by a then-44-year-old Bernard Hopkins when he steps in the ring with Martinez on Saturday night. Pavlik has not fought in Atlantic City since the Hopkins fight and hopes the return to A.C. will be much better this time than it was last time.
"To be honest with you guys, that was just a bad fight for me," Pavlik said. "And it wasn't even really that Hopkins had speed. I was just so lethargic in that fight that he didn't have to move. But I promised myself that I was going to bounce back from it and become a better fighter for it."
Since the loss to Hopkins, Pavlik's career has been an up-and-down spiral that has gotten experts doubting his ability. His 2009 was less than stellar, with two "blowout" title defense wins against Marco Antonio Rubio and Miguel Angel Espino.
Then there is the serious staph infection to his hand that sidelined him for many months. He was forced to cancel fights against Paul Williams and Sergio Mora. He had to cancel the Williams fight on two different times because of the injury which left many wondering if he was really hurt and ducking serious challengers.
"It was proven to everyone what was wrong with my hand," Pavlik said. "There is nothing I could have done about that. I don't have to prove anything to anyone about my hand. I have plenty other things to worry about that people think I am ducking a fight.It it is what it is—the staph infection; people saying I was lying; having to get doctors to prove I wasn't lying—and we couldn't make the fight with Williams happen. So the next best fight out there was Martinez, who a lot of people think beat Paul Williams."
For Martinez, he comes into the fight with Pavlik off an all-time high. He is coming off a highly disputed 12-round majority decision loss to Paul Williams in what was one of the best fights of 2009. Even though he lost, many experts (including Pavlik) felt he deserved the decision.
"I thought he won the fight, too, to be honest with you," Pavlik says. "I had him by a round or two and if he had finished strong it might have been a different decision. I thought Williams picked up later in the fight but I felt that Martinez won enough of the early rounds to take the fight."
Martinez's movement gave Williams fits in the fight, and kept him from getting his shots off. This is the same thing that Hopkins did in his fight with Pavlik. He used movement and made Pavlik look like a rookie. Pavlik doesn't think it will happen with Martinez and is going to try and exploit what he saw from the Williams fight
"I noticed that Martinez fades a little bit in the later rounds," Pavlik said. "He gets hits with fresh punches. He moves around very awkwardly in the ring. That can sometimes be good but other times it can leave him wide open or get him caught coming in. We are ready for everything he has got."
Pavlik feels confident that he is going to get the job done on Saturday night and look good doing it.
"I definitely feel like I am going to dominate this fight. If the knockout comes, I will take it. I don't like to make round predictions but I think I will be dominant."
For Martinez, he is coming into this fight on a high. He is coming off a highly disputed 12-round majority decision loss to Paul Williams. It is a fight that many felt he should have won and the second straight time of such robbery for him. Martinez should have had a knockout win over Kermit Cintron but some shoddy officiating did not let it happen. He hopes the luck will finally change.
"The preparation has been excellent; I feel it's been the best training camp of my career and it'll show on April 17," Martinez said. "With the preparation I've had I don't think Pavlik will be able to keep up. I feel great."
Martinez is a southpaw who is very hard to hit. He keeps his hands low down by his waist, but is hard to hit because he is always moving and is talented at making his opponents miss. The power that Pavlik has is something that Martinez isn't that worried about.
"This is a fight that will be two different styles," Martinez said. "He is probably more worried about my speed that my power. He has powerful hands and he is intelligent. But I feel have more of the ring intelligence than he does which will make the difference."
Martinez does not seem worried about making his return back to the same place where got the wrong end of the decision while Pavlik seems to be at home in Atlantic City.
"I respect the decision the judges made in the Williams fight. I respect the commission and all they do. I have nothing bad to say about them. I have to be ready to fight and not look for any help."
The fight will be broadcast on HBO at 10 p.m. this Saturday night. It will be part of a doubleheader that night that will show the Lucian Bute-Edison Miranda fight that will take place in Montreal.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!