By Keith Idec
The timing of Kelly Pavlik’s surprising withdrawal from a tune-up fight Saturday night and a subsequent title fight was far from good.
It could’ve been worse, though, according to promoter Bob Arum, whose Top Rank Inc. has promoted Pavlik’s entire career.
“In a way, I’m glad he did this now,” Arum said, “because the promoter of Bute, [Interbox’s chief executive officer Jean] Bedard, is a helluva nice man, [Lucian] Bute’s a nice young man, and it would’ve been terrible for them if [Pavlik] had done this fight [against Darryl Cunningham] and then pulled out of the Bute fight a week before. That would’ve been terrible for Bute and for his promoter.”
Pavlik accepted Top Rank’s guarantee of $1.35 million to box Bute for the IBF super middleweight title, probably on Nov. 5 in Montreal, but changed his mind because he believes Denmark’s Mikkel Kessler was offered $3 million to face Bute. That led Pavlik (37-2, 32 KOs) to suddenly pull out of a 10-round tune-up bout against Detroit’s Cunningham (23-2, 10 KOs), for which he was scheduled to earn at least $50,000 on Saturday night in Youngstown, Ohio, Pavlik’s hometown.
Showtime was scheduled to televise the Cunningham fight as part of its “ShoBox: The New Generation” series. The Bute-Pavlik fight also was to be aired by Showtime, which signed the Romanian-born, Montreal-based Bute (29-0, 24 KOs) to a three-fight contract last year.
Arum doesn’t think Pavlik wants to fight anymore. If the ex-middleweight champion does decide to continue his star-crossed career, however, Arum expects television executives from Showtime, HBO and any other network to approach Pavlik skeptically.
Pavlik’s decision to not fight Cunningham marked the fifth time in slightly more than two years that he withdrew from a fight. He previously pulled out of fights against Brian Vera (scheduled for November 2010), Paul Williams (scheduled for October 2009 and rescheduled for December 2009) and Sergio Mora (tentatively scheduled for June 2009).
Except perhaps the Mora fight, the aforementioned matches were canceled due to Pavlik’s hand injuries or treatment for alcohol abuse. Arum believes Pavlik’s public dispute over money will be viewed differently.
“I think this hurts him,” Arum said. “The one thing that’s most important for everybody associated with boxing is reliability. And if a fighter can’t be relied on because you think he might pull out, who the hell wants to get involved?”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, NJ., and BoxingScene.com.