In 2008, Kelly Pavlik was on top of the boxing world. He was coming off two victories, with one by knockout—Jermaine Taylor—and was the middleweight champion of the world. He had a down home charisma and power in both hands, making him a fan favorite.
Flash forward three years and Pavlik’s career has fallen off track. He has suffered two losses, his only victories are over a string of nobodies, has suffered infections and alcohol abuse, has disagreements with promoters, and does not currently have a fight scheduled.
However at age 29, Pavlik still has the time and ability to regain his former glory. Following are the twelve steps he needs to take to once again become a marquee attraction.
Pavlik needs to stop talking to the public. His explanations sound strained and he rarely seems willing to admit when he has an issue. The more he speaks, the deeper a hole he appears to dig for himself.
Pavlik needs to wait until the next 11 steps are taken care of before addressing the public again.
Pavlik fought Bernard Hopkins, lost, blamed it on a cold, and it made him look like an excuse maker.
He pulled out of a fight with Paul Williams due to a hand infection that he had not properly treated, which made him look like either reckless or afraid.
Pavlik lost to Sergio Martinez and alcohol and weight drain were blamed
Now comes his recent pull out of a fight.
Pavlik needs to get his house in order. Whatever the issues are: Training, weight, alcohol, money, promoters, whatever…he needs them taken care of before he fights again. He is testing the patience of the fans and television.
He needs to not announce a fight until he can get his life in order and be sure he will make it in the best shape he can be in.
Punching power has always been Pavlik’s greatest attribute. However, it may be his demise. As Pavlik moves up in weight he is no longer going to be the physically imposing bully he once was. Further, his potential opponents in Lucien Bute, Andre Ward, Carl Froch, etc…all have quick feet and quick hands.
Pavlik can still hurt anyone given the chance but if he does not improve his hand speed he will not get that chance. Pavlik needs to work on mixing up fast punches with hard punches.
Boxing fans have short memories and unless you are a mega star, you need to stay active. Also, unless you are supremely gifted, ring rust can hurt anyone. Pavlik is not fighting often enough for his fame or his abilities.
Pavlik needs to be willing to fight as often as possible. Also, as Chris Arreola has recently shown, an active schedule can keep bad habits at bay.
Right now there are several voices all speaking at once about Pavlik pulling out of his scheduled fight. The promoter, trainer, manager, and fighter are all giving their stories and nothing seems to mesh. Worst of all, Pavlik’s comments have made him seem greedy and big-headed when his initial selling points were that he was humble and grounded.
Pavlik has hurt his image publicly and his relationship with his promoter, television outlet and manager. Recently disgraced football star Michael Vick is again receiving endorsement deals. The athlete needs to understand his place in the world and be willing to do the work required to rebuild, but a good public relations expert can help with that.
Pavlik and his team have been notoriously cheap. Pavlik only recently hired a nutritionist and has had ineffectual cut men working his corners. This is unheard of at the championship level in boxing.
Would a race car driver buy only discounted tires? Would a jockey feed his horse bargain bin grains? Of course not and Pavlik needs to treat his body with care.
Bernard Hopkins is widely known for being the cheapest man in boxing—he proudly displays his Costco card whenever asked. However, Hopkins spends money to eat the best food and hires the best nutritionist in the game. Hopkins is also a champion at age 46 as opposed to rebuilding his career at age 29.
Boxing is a dirty business. Promoters are crooked, the major networks make dumb decisions constantly, and everyone is looking for a piece of the purse. It is understandable if Pavlik does not like the way boxing business is conducted.
However, let Pavlik try and make any money outside of the normal business. Let Pavlik try and earn significant money without a major network or get a good site without one of the major promoters. More talented and famous fighters such as Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao recognize this and they play the game.
If Pavlik feels he is being mistreated he needs to wait for the proper time to address this. The proper time is not a week before a fight.
Pavlik may be feeling frustrated at having to constantly represent Youngstown. Pavlik has his own family, health and business to worry about. He should not feel obligated to carry the hopes and dreams of a town on his back, especially when he is dealing with so many personal issues.
However, he should never say this out loud. Publicly, Pavlik should maintain his love of Youngstown and scream from the mountaintops that he is here for and because of his hometown. He should do this whenever he can.
The reason being is simple: He needs a home base of fight fans. Pavlik needs to learn the importance of having a fan base. Nationally, Pavlik has lost his luster due to two losses and a bevy of personal issues. A home base allows him a place to earn money and stay busy between or preparing for big fights.
So you are the hometown boy made good who has not forgotten his roots? Great, now get the hell out of there. Pavlik’s hometown connection may make him marketable but it also keeps him around the people that enable his bad habits.
There is a reason fighters leave town for training. It is because their home town offers too many distractions. However, for Pavlik, his hometown has become a burden even between fights due to alcoholism and overall malaise.
For the reasons described in the previous slide it would make sense to stay near Youngstown, but Pavlik should definitely not live in Youngstown.
Like a lot of power punchers, Pavlik likes to see what he is doing. This involves not moving the head which leaves Pavlik exposed. If Pavlik is going to have any future he needs to learn this now.
This has nothing to do with Pavlik’s ability to take a punch. Pavlik has shown a good chin and great recuperative power, but now that he has suffered a bad cut he needs to become less hittable. Cuts leave scar tissue which makes the area around his eye more vulnerable to cutting again.
Seems simple enough and like something that Pavlik should have learned years ago, but it has been a huge issue of Pavlik’s. The proper way to block a jab is to either move your head or to pop it out of the way with a slight flick of your right hand. The problem with Pavlik’s defense is that he over compensates and pushes the jab out of the way with his right hand and drops right across the front of his face.
This error in defense leaves the right side of Pavlik’s head exposed. Bernard Hopkins capitalized on this mistake repeatedly during his fight with Pavlik. Hopkins would feint a jab and then lunge with a hook while Pavlik’s right hand moved out of position.
The jab is the most basic punch in all of boxing. For most fighters at the elite level everything flows from the jab. If Pavlik does not understand what to do against a decent jab he will be vulnerable against everyone he faces.
Jack Loew is Pavlik’s trainer and guided him to a world title. Also, Pavlik and Loew seem to have a close bond. So maybe firing Loew altogether is a bad idea, but something has to be done to correct Loew’s many limitations as a trainer and a mentor.
The lack of a jab and head movement? Loew should be working on that.
Pavlik’s need for a nutritionist? Loew should be finding the right guy.
The confusion in Pavlik’s camp? Loew should be managing that instead of adding to it.
The alcoholism, lack of medical attention for the infected hand, the flippant public remarks? Loew should be demanding more of Pavlik instead of defending him at every turn.
Pavlik needs to bring in either a skilled trainer who could serve as a second and fix Pavlik’s issues or he needs a new trainer and move Loew to second. Pavlik needs a solid trainer who knows how to correct the fundamentals in a power puncher as well as manage the boxing world.
If ‘double the jab, Kelly’ was the only advice a corner needed to offer then Loew would be fine. However, it is not and he is not. This is not an attempt to blame everything on Loew, as Pavlik is his own man, but Pavlik needs the right team working with him.