Kelly Pavlik Checks Into Betty Ford Center; Boxing Career In Jeopardy

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Kelly Pavlik Checks Into Betty Ford Center; Boxing Career In Jeopardy
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Kelly Pavlik faces a new battle outside of the ring.

Back in 2008, when middleweight champion Kelly "The Ghost" Pavlik, 28, of Youngstown, Ohio, defeated ex-champ Jermain Taylor for the second time, his future prospects in boxing seemed limitless.

Pavlik was set to be boxing's newest American superstar, a working class kid from small town USA made good. 

Soon he had his own line of Affliction t-shirts, and was looked upon by the boxing community in the US as a possible savior for the sport, someone who could elevate boxing from its current niche status back into the mainstream.  

Losses to Bernard Hopkins in late 2008 and to Sergio Martinez earlier this year dimmed Pavlik's star, however, and rumors began to circulate that all was not well in his personal life, although these rumors were constantly denied by those around Pavlik. 

When Pavlik pulled out of a fight with Brian Vera on the undercard of the recent Manny Pacquiao - Antonio Margarito contest, the chatter about Pavlik having a problem reached a deafening pitch.

Now comes the news that Pavlik has checked into the Betty Ford Center in California to deal with alcohol abuse issues. 

People around boxing, according to ESPN.com's Dan Rafael, have known about Pavlik's issues with the bottle for a long time.  "Pavlik's drinking problems are widely known in boxing even though nobody on his team will say it publicly.  But it is a major problem," Rafael said during an online chat on November 5, 2010. 

After all the denials, however, the latest word from Pavlik's team is that their fighter is not only in rehab, but may be done with boxing for good.

Apparently an 8-hour intervention-like "conversation" between Pavlik, his parents, and his wife, Samantha, led to the fighter's decision to check himself into rehab.  According to Pavlik's father, Mike, his son was unable to handle the fame that came with being the middleweight champion.

"I’m not complaining about him winning the title, but it was instant stardom after that and the demands on his life became so hard and so intense that he couldn’t deal with it," the senior Pavlik told Yahoo Sports.  "Everywhere he went, everyone wanted to buy the champ a beer. He didn’t want to disappoint anyone or say no and it wound up causing him a pretty serious problem."

Pavlik's recent downward career trajectory is almost certainly linked to his alcohol problem: according to co-manager Cameron Dunkin, this is Pavlik's second stint in rehab this year, the first being a two-week stay at Betty Ford shockingly only 10 days before he lost his WBC and WBO middleweight titles to Martinez.

This time, Pavlik plans to stay in rehab as long as it takes to correct his behavior.

“Three months, six months, whatever it takes, he’s going to do it,” said Dunkin, who also admitted, "I don’t know if he’ll ever fight again."

(www.streetbeatboxing.com)

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