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Talkin’ Boxing with Kelly Pavlik

Posted on 02/26/2009

Reigning Middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik has something to prove after his disappointing defeat at the hands of Bernard Hopkins late last year. In part one of this two-part interview, Pavlik talks about Taylor, Margarito, Kessler, which fighters today excite the boxing fan in him, and what it takes a young kid to make it in the Sweet Science:

BoxingInsider: In your opinion, pro/amateur, what were your three most impressive performances?
Kelly Pavlik: I would have to say the National Championships, U19s. I beat the three-time defending National Champ, Darnell Wilson and beat him up pretty good… I would have to say that’s up there… And then I would have to say the two Taylor fights…

BoxingInsider: Which brings me to the next question: I like Jermain Taylor. He’s got one of boxing’s greatest jabs, cobra-like speed, and snapping power. I feel he’s very, very underrated. Of all the guys out there –Froch, Dawson, Hopkins, Johnson, Kessler – I think a fighter like Jermain Taylor poses the biggest threat to Joe Calzaghe. What do you think?

Kelly Pavlik: I think, and I’m just not sayin’ this because I beat him twice: I think Taylor’s athleticism, I think it could be a problem for Calzaghe. I mean, Taylor has that hard right hand that’s hard to get away from, and southpaws get hit with right hands all the time. I think with Taylor’s speed he could land that right hand. He’s a naturally strong kid and he’s very fast. Taylor, if he doesn’t have the mental lapses in the middle rounds, I think he could do real well. But if he gets that little lapse, gets on the defense, then that’s where he’ll give Calzaghe the opportunity. Just like the Lacy fight. When Taylor fought, Taylor dominated. But once he went in that defensive lapse, that lackadaisical mode, that’s when Lacy gave him his fits. If Taylor stays on top of his game, I think he could give Calzaghe more than he could handle.

BoxingInsider: I also admire a fighter similar in style to you, Mikkel Kessler. You both fight classically and throw economical and efficient punches. How do you line up with Kessler?

Kelly Pavlik: I think it would be a great fight. He had a good appearance with Calzaghe, looked very good for the first handful of rounds. But Kessler’s there to be hit, too. He’s a straight-down-the-middle guy. He has good hand speed, but he’s straight-down-the-middle. I think it would be a great fight for the future.

BoxingInsider: If Margarito were a bit bigger, or if you were a top welterweight, how would you confront a monster such as Antonio? What do you do? (Note: Interview was done before Mosley-Margarito fight.)
Kelly Pavlik: Fight my own way. We both gotta fight the same way, we’re both gonna wear each other out, try to wear each other down… Power-wise, I don’t how much he has. He’s worn a lot of his fighters down, so obviously he does have pop. I think that would be a great fight. I think that’s something maybe the fans would like to see… I’ll tell you what: I’m a big fan of Margarito.

BoxingInsider: Who are three of your favorite fighters today and why?
Kelly Pavlik: Ricky Hatton, because of his style and what he brings. I’d have to say Many Pacquiao, for sure. He’s an exciting fighter. And then definitely Margarito – I love his style of fighting.

BoxingInsider: You pick Margarito over Kessler?
Kelly Pavlik: Yeah, definitely. And, you know, my honorable mention would be Miguel Cotto. Cotto is fun to watch. Every fight he fights in is an exciting fight. There are a lot of great fighters out there, but those are my top-three off the top of my head.

BoxingInsider: A kid comes up to you and wants to be a fighter. What is this kid going to need to be a successful boxer? What are a bunch of attributes?
Kelly Pavlik: He’ll need to have talent, the natural ability. He’ll need to have heart. Without heart, you can have all the talent but if you get hit on that chin one time, and your whole game plan changes, then talent don’t mean anything. And the work ethic. Work ethic is a main thing. You gotta love the sport. If you think about it, you’re going into the ring, know you’re going to get hit for 12 rounds, no matter how many rounds it is – you know you’re going into that. You gotta train, getting hit – it’s not something you want your kids doing, I’ll tell you that (smiles).

Kenneth Lundgren is a fitness and training coach. Check out his website:

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