BOB ARUM: This fight on Saturday, April 17, will be one of the most important middleweight championships that we will see in a very long time — Kelly Pavlik, the defending champion, and Sergio Martinez, the super welterweight champion, who will now fight at middleweight. People saw Martinez’s last fight against Paul Williams and a lot of people thought Martinez won the fight. This fight will be tremendous. We have here today Jack Loew, Kelly’s trainer and who just finished a vigorous 12-round sparring session with Kelly, and Kelly Pavlik himself and his manager Cameron Dunkin.
JACK LOEW: Thanks Bob. As Bob just said we just finished training where we sparred 12 rounds and I’ve never seen Kelly look as good as he has in one of the last days of sparring after he has gone through a rigorous eight weeks of training. We are really looking forward to April 17. We are really excited to get in there and we know what is in front of us. This is a big fight for us and for Youngstown and people are going to see the best Kelly Pavlik they’ve seen in a long time.
BOB ARUM: Mike Jones will be on the card also. Mike has been handled by Russell Peltz who has done a fabulous job and Mike is a fighter that we’ll be hearing from in the future.
KELLY PAVLIK: I’m feeling real good and I think it’s the strongest I’ve been and I’m anxious to get in there and do my thing.
The staph infection came last February after the Rubio fight. During training camp I had a little cut on my knuckle and didn’t think anything of it. Two weeks later I was playing basketball and I felt a little pinch on my knuckle. I looked down and saw no blood, just pus and I knew right then something wasn’t right. We went to a doctor and got a culture done and found out it was staph infection. We got surgery to make sure it wasn’t down to the bone or to the tendon. A couple weeks later because the cut opened back up again and we got another culture on it. It was frustrating because we were doing everything we were supposed to do but it was getting worse. I began taking antibiotics and was bedridden. It wasn’t at the point if I was ever going to fight again, it was ‘when was it going to finally heal?’ It was a frustrating 2009 and there wasn’t much we could do about it.
You were training in Florida and I was curious as to why you went back to Youngstown…
JACK LOEW: It was my decision. We went down there and there was a gym set up for us and it was like a 10’ x 10’ ring. Not realizing that it was also Spring Break, things just didn’t play out like we planned. We got three days of training down there and to tell you the truth the weather wasn’t much better down there than it was up here. We were trying something different and then we came home. I thought because he had that extra weight on him we better get somewhere warm, but the nights down there were in the 40’s and the days were in the 60’s, which wasn’t any better than it was up here so we came home.
Do you think Kelly needs to do anything different against Martinez?
JACK LOEW: I expect in the first couple of rounds we’ll figure him out then adjust our game plan. We’ll be ready for whatever Sergio shows up. If he wants to move, we’re ready. We are not going to change anything off the bat. We’re going to go with what’s got us here. We’ll fight our fight and if we have to adjust, we’ll adjust.
How is the weight?
JACK LOEW: We are nine days out and we’re within a pound or two of where we normally are. He’s about 167 right now and he’s usually around 164 when we leave for the fight location and we’re right on track.
Did you watch the Williams/Martinez fight?
KELLY PAVLIK: I thought Martinez won the fight to be honest with you. I thought he had him by a round or two. I thought if he finished strong it would have been a definite win but he didn’t. I was impressed and I wasn’t impressed. He got hit with a lot of punches. If Williams had a little more pop it would have been a different fight. He does a lot of good and a lot of bad, but his good could be his bad. He’s awkward and punches from different angles, which sometimes helps him and sometimes that could leave him wide open and get caught coming in. I didn’t see anything overly impressive. But he’s somebody you’ve got to respect. You can’t go in there face-first.
Can you take things from the fight since he fought a southpaw?
KELLY PAVLIK: There are certain things you can take from it. You could see how Williams had a height advantage. You really can’t take too much out of that fight, but there are plenty of other fights you can watch and break down what he did against right-handers.
It was a little upsetting to hear what people were saying (about the cancellations of the Williams fights) but I couldn’t pay too much attention to that. I wanted to fight Williams and they said I was lying. The doctors had to prove that I wasn’t lying and we couldn’t make the fight happen. So the next best fight out there was Martinez. Other than Paul Williams, his is the biggest name in the division and the biggest fight for me to take. Even though Martinez lost to Williams on the judges’ scorecards, he may be the better fighter. He may not have the name that Paul Williams has but I’m definitely taking a chance and I’m proving to the people that I have always taken dangerous fights and have never strayed away from big fights. I went up two weight classes to fight Hopkins, after Paul Williams pulled out, so that goes to show I’m not hiding from anybody – Miranda, Taylor twice. The flack is going to be there, there is nothing I can do.
If you go back and think about it, Abraham got the middleweight title by vacancy. He didn’t fight anybody to win the title. Who did Arthur Abraham defend his titles against? Who did Sturm defend his WBA title against? Nobody. Who did Hopkins, besides Trinidad and de la Hoya, really defend his titles against? Those guys don’t get the flack and I don’t care about that. This is my way of going out there and taking dangerous fights against a very good fighter when I’m healthy and 100%.
Have you been working on speed in the gym?
KELLY PAVLIK: Yes, we’ve been working on it, not just because of the Hopkins fight – that was just a bad, bad fight, and that wasn’t just because of Hopkins. I was just so lethargic in that fight he didn’t even have to move. We are definitely working on it because Martinez is a mover and he’s off balance a lot. When he moves he uses a lot of energy. He starts to wear down a little bit in later rounds. If they want to move and they want to look at the Hopkins fight to do that, I think that’s great. They can watch that every night, nine rounds of the Hopkins fight, that’s good for me. We still have to definitely work on that part of it though. With any mover, like Martinez or Mayweather, you don’t follow him and you don’t go head first and try to hit him. You let him move then throw a punch.
It could be that when I was coming up people didn’t expect me, as that type of fighter, one dimensional power puncher. The only thing I can do is go out there and keep fighting. I don’t lose sleep at night over that. As long as I go out there, moving and keep working on it, and keep winning, that will silence all the critics.
I can obviously fight with both hands. I do have good boxing ability and a great jab. When I was 17 years old I won a national title. You don’t go through amateurs by being a power-puncher. You don’t get knockouts with headgear on. I showed that I had hand speed and was able to box. In that division I had to box. I proved it with Taylor in the rematch when I beat him on points. I showed that I can jab with the best jabbers in the game and my hand speed is right there with them also. People underestimate my hand speed, I think that’s one key. I can set up any punch in a fight.
Against Hopkins, it was not a Kelly Pavlik night. I was not 100%. There were things I wanted to do in that fight and I just couldn’t do them. From the mind to the hands I just couldn’t let go. I was a little lethargic but I think that I proved that on a bad night, being two weight classes above mine and take the punches from Hopkins, and yeah, he’s not a knockout puncher, but the guy can still punch. He’s dropped a lot of fighters. I just took it and I move forward. It’s in the past, it happened two years ago and I can’t let it bother me. A lot of great champions lost, some have five losses and some have four losses. It’s just how you bounce back.
Arturo Gatti was a great fighter. A blood and guts type of fighter. To me, it was an honor to be the guy that was going to fill his spot (as the Boardwalk Hall house fighter). I enjoyed watching Gatti fight and I think everyone enjoyed watching him fight. It’s a lot for me to try to live up to. It’s great to be back at Boardwalk Hall. I won the title there and won another handful of fights there. It’s a great atmosphere and it’s a great fight city.
When I get in the ring it feels as though there are more than the 7,000 people from Youngstown that are cheering me. It’s a great thing to go outside of my area and have the great fan support. With the history of boxing in New York and New Jersey it is an honor to have those people behind me and when I fight I hope they get the excitement that they are coming to see.
When was the last time you felt 100%?
KELLY PAVLIK: It may have been the Rubio fight but it was probably the Lockett fight. You never know what’s going to happen until the day of the fight. There were two fights, the Hopkins fight and the last fight with Espino because it was on five weeks notice and coming off the hand injury. It was not fully healed but we got through it, we went in there and beat a mandatory and we stopped him, which is what we were supposed to do.
I went into this camp feeling great. There are no “ands” or “ifs” about it. I was ready to get to camp. I am always playing basketball or doing something to stay active. I couldn’t last year. For the Espino fight I was ready because we stay active. Going into camp this time was really a plus because I was ready. I don’t have to worry about the hand being tender. Everything has held up great and there are no problems, knock on wood.
BOB ARUM: The public is very fickle. They caught onto Kelly leading up to and including the Taylor fight. Then there has been a fall-off – his performance against Hopkins and the injury and so-forth. But I am convinced, beyond any measure, that we are going to see the old Kelly Pavlik against Martinez and as soon as we see that and as soon as the public sees that and thanks to HBO it will be a huge audience, he will be right back on top and people will be clamoring for his next fight whether it be against Paul Williams or Lucian Bute or somebody else…people love to see knockouts.
I think there are (opponents to take him to superstar status), since Hagler fought, and the 168-pound guys are the middleweights of the ‘80’s. I think Kelly, when he cleans out the middleweight division, will go up to the 168-pound division because there is a lot of competition there.
Do you feel any pressure?
KELLY PAVLIK: There is definitely pressure, like there is in any fight. Actually the last two fights were more pressure than anything, coming off the infection and everything else and fighting a guy with a lesser name. There is pressure from my aspect of it and from my loyal fans. The main thing is that I need to go in there and focus on business and being on my game plan we have worked on and I think everything will fall in place. Paul Williams is a lesser name but what Martinez did against Paul Williams I think Martinez has really made a name for himself. Everyone I talk to about the fight has seen his fight with Williams. People know that he’s a dangerous fighter and when I go in there and dominate and win I’ll be right back on track.
World Middleweight Champion KELLY PAVLIK defends his crown against World Boxing Council (WBC) super welterweight champion Sergio Martinez, This Saturday! April 17, at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall. HBO World Championship Boxing will televise the fight live, beginning at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT.
Combined, Pavlik (36-1, 32 KOs), of Youngstown, OH, and Martinez (44-2-2, 24 KOs), of Argentina, now fighting out of Spain, boast an incredible record of 80-3-2 (56 KOs), a winning percentage of 94% and a victory by knockout ratio of 70%!
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with DiBella Entertainment and Caesars Atlantic City, remaining Tickets, priced at $350, $200, $100 and $50, can be purchased at the Boardwalk Hall box office, by calling Ticketmaster (800) 736-1420 or online at www.Ticketmaster.com.