by Chris Cella
Last year, former undisputed middleweight champion of the world Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik had his tune-up fights as he reemerged onto the boxing scene, and was lined up to go to battle with undefeated super middleweight champion Andre “Son of God” Ward, but the fight was recently called off as Ward suffered a shoulder injury.
Following a near year layoff, Pavlik (40-2, 34 KO) took three fights in 2012 to reestablish his ring presence and to show the boxing world that he still had something left in the gas tank. Despite the fact that he would be a heavy underdog against the crafty and speedy Ward, that was the fight he wanted to reclaim the world title that he once held.
Pavlik’s manager Cameron Dunkin shared the following with ESPN’s Dan Rafael: “I wasn’t jumping up and down for the fight. I wasn’t excited for it, but it’s something Kelly wanted and this is my job, to create opportunities for my clients. Kelly told me that fighting Ward was what he wanted to do. He said to get the fight done, so sometimes that’s what you gotta do. And now we will look for something else.”
Rather than fighting an unknown name who gets under Pavlik’s skin via Twitter, the Ghost needs to exchange leather with a reputable opponent to prove that he is back and has what it even takes to go to battle with a caliber fighter like Ward.
Despite the three wins in 2012, Pavlik didn’t do enough to show that he is the fighter of old, the guy who would stalk and dominate top echelon opponents as he did nearly five years ago.
So with the discussion of the Pavlik-Ward fight being laid to rest, there has been some talk about former IBF super middleweight champion Lucian “Le Tombeur” Bute stepping in and going to war with the Ghost.
Bute (31-1, 24 KO) successfully defended his IBF super middleweight title 10 times before being stopped and suffering the only defeat of his career (5th round TKO) at the hands of Carl Froch earlier this year. Following the loss, Bute bounced back with a unanimous decision win over Denis Grachev last November where he claimed the NABF light heavyweight title, and knows that a win over a fighter like Pavlik will get him back in line for another world title shot.
Bute promoter Jean Bedard told Boxingscene, “Since (last) Wednesday, we have been in contact with Pavlik’s team. If we do not face Froch in our next outing, Pavlik is a serious candidate. And we have been interested in him for a long time.”
Stylistically, Pavlik-Bute would make for a very fan-friendly fight. Both possess unrelenting punching power and bring the fight to their opponent. But Pavlik hasn’t been tested since his fight against Sergio Martinez, which he lost a unanimous decision. He has eaten a good deal of punches in his three fights since his layoff, and against a skilled power puncher like Bute, it could mean an early night. But, Pavlik has never been stopped through his 42-fight professional career, so a knockout would be a heavy task at hand for the former IBF champion.
Kelly Pavlik needs this fight more than Lucian Bute does. He needs to show that he still can be the dominant force that he once was, and that his comeback is more than simply to line his pockets. If Bute doesn’t have the chance to fight Carl Froch in a rematch next, then the chances he will face Pavlik are high.
At 30, Pavlik is an old fighter, and this could be his last shot at the big dance. A fight against Bute, or any decent name will be an indication of what lies ahead for the middleweight who once stood above all the other fighters in the division. Right now, though, it seems the Ghost is simply trying to hang around and recapture his past glory.