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Q&A with The Ghost: Kickin’ It with Kelly Pavlik

Posted on 05/26/2008

BY Kenneth Lundgren

Boxinginsider’s newest staff addition Kenneth Lundgren changes gears with some unconventional questions to reveal a different side of WBC Middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik. Pavlik is two weeks away from making his first title defense on June 7 against Gary Lockett. Your ring entrance is Korn’s “Here to Stay.” Why did you choose that song? What do you look for?

Kelly Pavlik: Well, you really don’t have a lot time. So you need to find something that’s quick, has the energy right from the rip. When I was listening to it, I knew it would get people going. You only get 30 to 40 seconds and it’s perfect. And it became part of superstition – we won big fights with that song, so we’re sticking with it. I think your impressive manhandled bashing of Edison Miranda was your best performance. What is your favorite fight and why?

Kelly Pavlik: The first Taylor fight. This is where it all happened. The way it all unfolded in that fight, it definitely was that one. The second one was great too because no one gave me a snowball’s chance in hell to go the distance. Everybody said, “If Pavlik beats Taylor again, it will be by knockout, there’s no way it’s going the distance,” but we went in there and proved them wrong… What is the new tattoo on your back and what does is signify? Also, what are the two tattoos on each bicep?

Kelly Pavlik: Each bicep is a ghost. One is my trademark ghost, and the other one is a grim reaper with a pair of gloves. The last tattoo, the one on my back, I need to get the color touched up. It’s an angel over a globe, and it says “Lift our spirits.” You are the father to the adorable young Cindy Pavlik. What is your single-best quality as a father?

Kelly Pavlik: I think just taking time and spending my time with her. I try to do different things with her. For instance, I got her a wiffle ball bat and ball. She’s only three but smacks the ball around. She loves it. I have a feeling I’m gonna be getting her ready for softball… In the first round of the Zuniga fight [10-7-05], you were caught with a left and knocked off balance, down to the canvas. What’s the single best thing you’ve improved since that fight? In your last fight, you fought a well-executed “inches and angles” fight, and two years ago a crisp Jermain Taylor might’ve been able to exploit some weaknesses…

Kelly Pavlik: We got a little lackadaisical in that fight with Zuniga. He threw a lot of punches, a tough fight. We sat there, dumb mistakes, just hanging on the inside. I had a weight problem for that fight, cutting the weight too quickly. I’m not making this an excuse. I still could’ve stayed on the outside a little more, kept our jabs out there. Mistakes like that that we made I think are things we’ve worked on since that fight. But fundamentally I’m the same fighter. You’re a stalker in the ring with a high-volume punch count. But you also throw very heavy. The fitness is very impressive. Of all aspects of training, what do you attribute most to your supreme physical condition?

Kelly Pavlik: The Ironman Warehouse workout. Basically it’s a strength, cardio, and endurance workout all wrapped in one. I flip tires, do pull-ups on firehoses… I work on the core and balance. So many things are added in. We do cardio all day long, but we do the workout at the end of the day – it’s the hardest and funnest workout… If you had to name three reasons why you fight, or three things you love most about boxing, what would they be?

Kelly Pavlik: Well, the one-on-one aspect. And then the dedication. Then there’s the training. No matter what the outcome is, you sit there and know you put in all the work. You get huge satisfaction. Fame can have its drawbacks. You have less time, less privacy, everyone wants a piece of you. Having said that, money aside, what’s the single best thing fame has brought to your life?

Kelly Pavlik: Being able to meet other people. Ohio State football players. The [Cleveland] Indians. Guys like that, guys I look up to. It’s awesome. It’s great to meet them. And of course now I can really support my family. But of course, through boxing, I can represent Ohio and get Youngstown out there.” Tom Boonen, the world’s greatest cyclist, hates his popularity and fame. He mentioned that his bike is his passport to freedom and normality. Riding is his quiet escape. What is this sanctuary for you?

Kelly Pavlik: I can see his point on that. Fame can be very demanding and overwhelming. On the other hand, if you’re not too busy, if people don’t want your attention, then you’re not doing something very well. But I have my dark night: I love to go golfing in the summer time.

Back to the sanctuary part of the question, when I run, I don’t listen to any music. I just run in the park. I have the waterfall, the water around me. I like being out there.

I don’t train to any music, nothing. I try to keep the fight in my head. People get mad when the music is turned off in the gym. “What did you turn the music off for?” “Hey, I don’t want no music on!” When you’re in the ring, will you have 50 Cent playing? As a writer and boxing fan, I am drawn to your blunt confidence. It’s scary and amazing. You once made this comment: “I love boxing because in the end, in the ring, it’s just you and me.” Kelly Pavlik, where does this confidence resonate from?

Kelly Pavlik: Hard work. I am confident in my skills. I am confident in my power and my boxing ability. But it comes from hard work. The worst thing you can do is go into a fight and think, What if after 6 or 7 rounds, what if I’m tired? It’s just the worst feeling to have in your head. I think the training and the hard work, along with my skills, give me what I need. You have to be confident. But there’s a difference between being cocky and over-confident. You have to work hard, and then you know you can win. Before the Miranda fight, you did not seem nervous at all, just anxious and confident to fight. You wanted to back him up.

Kelly Pavlik: Well, it’s funny you say that. For our ring entrance, Jack [Kelly’s trainer] always walks behind me. Well, that night as we walked out he had his head down and when he looked up, I was in the ring already. I went straight to the ring, keeping the mindset that I was going to back him up, back him up.

Kenneth Lundgren founded ELITE ENDURANCE TRAINING SYSTEMS in 2005. Check out his site This is his first article for

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