Still don’t think one loss can completely derail a career? Look no further than former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik, who began a downward spiral following a competitive April 2010 loss to Sergio Martinez that many believed he would never emerge from. Plagued by freak injuries (hand staph infection), big fight cancellations (Paul Williams) and well-documented alcoholism, Pavlik seemed fated to be a shooting star — emerging brilliantly but ultimately extinguishing at its apex.
It’s been a slow comeback climb, but at 30 years old and 12 years deep in the Sweet Science, Kelly Pavlik has emerged from the lowest point on his career. After only fighting once in 2011, he’s notched two dominant KOs this year of lesser talents, leading to tomorrow night’s HBO showcase against Will Rosinsky. Another good win and Pavlik will find himself back in the hunt to secure his first big name fight since 2010. Add on a personal life that’s now stable, and you’ll understand why Kelly Pavlik is optimistic about his future endeavors.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: Congrats on the KO in your last fight against Scott Sigmon. Was it planned to stay on the inside so much and break him down?
Kelly Pavlik: Did I stay on the inside a little too much? Yeah, I didn’t listen to Robert as he was telling me to find my distance. I think overall the body work, how I put my punches together and the counterpunching, everything turned out good.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: Tell us about the focus you’ve shown lately in developing your left hand.
Pavlik: We worked on that left hand over and over. A hook to the head and off that hook to the body and hook back to the head. People know I have a powerful right hand and I have a good jab. The hook is something we worked on religiously over and over. The habit of using that bore out in the fight.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: A lot of guys say they want big fights but end up shying away from that stance if it means traveling and taking on some of the formidable talent overseas. Would you be willing to travel to find that big fight?
Pavlik: It don’t matter to me. That falls in the hands of Top Rank. We’re not sure if there’s any fighters overseas that’ll be available for me to fight. The main thing is I have to take care of business Saturday, which I’m gonna do. This kid’s [Will Rosinsky] coming to fight too.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: Would I be jumping the gun to expect you to be slipping and countering with big shots inside against Rosinsky?
Pavlik: I don’t think this is an inside fight. I just did that with Sigmon because I wanted to prove something to him, nobody else. He kind of upset me in the prefight. With this fight we’ll work on what we’ve been working on for the Sigmon fight and before. Not saying I’m gonna be a master boxer like Mayweather but we’re gonna use our hand speed, jab, our long-range and show lots of skills.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: Last year you turned down what would’ve been a big fight in facing Lucian Bute on the road. Considering what Froch did to him, do you have any regret about not taking that fight?
Pavlik: Y’know what, I do because of how it happened. At the same time, I did what I had to do because of certain reasons. Everbody goes ‘oh he had personal problems.’ It had nothing to do with that. That was definitely not the reason; there was more behind it. In a way I am and in a way I’m not. I definitely believe since Froch did it, I would’ve done it quicker.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: Do you feel you got a fair shake from the media about your alcohol issues?
Pavlik: I’m wary because it’ll constantly be brought up. It was over two years ago but people still want to bring it up. It’s over with now. When the question is asked I just bypass it.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: If everything works out we’ll get Sergio Martinez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr in September. Are you willing to face the winner?
Pavlik: Definitely. That’s what we’re here for, the big fights. I think it’ll be hard to make middleweight, though. I think maybe a catchweight or something like that. Any big fight out there I’m interested in.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: You’ve mentioned Carl Froch’s name more than anyone else regarding big fights…
Pavlik: He had his words about me and that ticked me off a little bit, especially after what Jermain Taylor did to him. He knocked Jermain Taylor out in the 12th round, but that was a one-sided fight up until then. I think he carries a big name in that division and it would be a great action fight.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: You’e mentioned that you feel your defense has vastly improved. How so?
Pavlik: I’ve always had good defense. The difference I’m doing now is countering off that. Before I would block three punches and then I wouldn’t do anything. Now working with Barber I’m blocking but we’re firing back.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: You’ve talked about what a great move it was to relocate out West for training instead of staying in your hometown of Youngstown, Ohio. We all know about the great side of being home when you’re winning, but how did you deal with the questions and other whisperings from people you grew up with during these tough last few years?
Pavlik: That’s a really good question. I live my life by what makes me happy. That’s the main thing, no matter what the situation is. So in an area like that no one can really judge. I do what I have to do. A lot of people didn’t ask too much. They would say things behind my back but I was never confronted on too much except by the media. And I answered them as accurately as I could.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: Last question. Your style is a bruising one, so you’re a good boxer to pose this question to. Two of your signature wins, against Edison Miranda and the first Jermain Taylor fight, it can be argued that the beatings your delivered took something from both of them. Knowing that, is there ever any feelings of remorse or sadness knowing your completely derailed someone’s career?
Pavlik: It never really enters my mind because it’s never really a guarantee, even with what happened with Taylor’s career. For me to come out and say ‘I did that’ without no proof makes me look arrogant and cocky. I’m sure one day when I retire and look back it’ll hit me. But when you go into the ring, you’re going [with the mindset] to protect yourself and your health. What happens, happens. One thing in this sport is you never want to see anyone get hurt seriously. But yet, you’re going for a knockout. Thank God they all walked away healthy.
Kelly Pavlik faces Will Rosinsky July 7 live on HBO at 10 p.m. ET