By Mark Vester
Kelly Pavlik says "Contender" star Miguel Espino will present a real challenge when they meet on December 19 in Youngstown, Ohio. Because of a lingering staph infection in his left hand, Pavlik has pulled out from multiple bouts over the last year; including a bout with Sergio Mora that was scheduled for the summer, and two scheduled dates with Paul Williams.
If you remember, Pavlik claimed that he was fully healthy for the bout with Mora and was puzzled why the fight was canceled. Bob Arum of Top Rank would later state that Pavlik did not get them his medicals in time to finalize the event. In Williams' case, there is heavy doubt over the reasons for Pavlik's withdrawal from their two scheduled dates. The critics are going after Pavlik hard and heavy over the news that he plans to fight Espino in December.
I've seen statements where members of Top Rank said Pavlik was healthy enough to move forward with Espino. But Pavlik told the Youngstown Vindicator that he still can't make a fist with his left hand. He can't even throw a punch with the left, according to Pavlik, but hopes to start punching in the next few days. Both the WBO and WBC threatened to stip Pavlik for his lack of activity.
“Espino is a good fighter; someone who presents a real challenge,” Pavlik said the Vindicator. “I’m just ready to get back into the swing of things. I talked with my dad, Jack [Loew, his trainer] and my manager [Cameron Dunkin] and we decided it’s not worth losing the title. If I lose, I want to lose fighting. So, [Sunday], I told Cameron I want the fight.”
Pavlik says that he didn't hit the gym in over two months and saw how much he lost in his first day back.
“At the Ironman [Gym], I could see how much I lost. When you can’t pick up anything heavier than a gallon of milk for two months, it’s going to take a while to get back into it. But we’ll get there. This is an awesome feeling as I am ready to get back into the ring,” Pavlik said.
“I really appreciate the many local fans that have traveled to my fights, so to be able to stay at home to defend my title is absolutely special. A jam-packed, smaller arena gets your adrenaline going. The fans are there to have fun but also root you on so this is going to be a special night for everyone.”
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