By Lem Satterfield
It is widely known that Kelly Pavlik exploded on to the boxing scene in September of 2007 during his Atlantic City debut at the Boardwalk Hall, this, after rising from a second-round knockdown to dethrone previously unbeaten, Jermain Taylor, as WBC and WBO middleweight champion.
But what may be less understood is that the 28-year-old Pavlik (36-2, 32 knockouts) has enjoyed most of his success in Las Vegas, where he is 11-0, with eight knockouts.
"Las Vegas, believe it or not, was the start of all my success. I fought out in Vegas, believe it or not, a lot of times, especially early on in my career," said Pavlik, who last fought in Las Vegas during a February, 2008 rematch with Taylor, over whom he earned a non-title, 164-pound, unanimous decision victory at the MGM Grand Hotel.
"It has probably been like 10 or 11 times since I've been a professional that I have fought in Las Vegas," said Pavlik. "I fought there on the undercard of Oscar De La Hoya's fights and some other title fights. So Las Vegas still has a lot of meaning for me. There is a lot of history there and everything for me."
Pavlik will make his fourth appearance at the MGM Grand Hotel on May 7 when he takes on 28-year-old Alfonso Lopez (21-0, 16 KOs) of Cut And Shoot, Texas, on the undercard of a main event featuring eight-division titlist, Manny Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 KOs), defending his WBO welterweight belt against Shane Mosley (46-6-1, 39 KOs).
"It's exciting for me to not only be on a Manny Pacquiao card, and to be a part of the attention that he brings to the sport, but to also be a part of the excitment brought on by Shane Mosley, who still is a big draw in the sport," said
said Pavlik, who, in January, was released from a two-month stay at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif., for treatment for issues with alcohol.
"To be back there and to take care of business, like I was able to do with the second Jermain Taylor fight, that's going to mean a lot to me. This is just a great opportunity to be a part of all of that," said Pavlik, who is 3-0, with one knockout at the MGM Grand. "I mean, that's a large part of my motivation and my incentive, the magnitude of this event and the big names on this card. This is a helluva card for a comeback fight, if you know what I mean. You can't ask for more than anything like this."
Pavlik is 2-2, with two stoppages in Atlantic City, where he knocked out Taylor, stopped Gary Locett in the third round of a June, 2008 defense of his belts, lost an October, 2008, non-title, 170-pound clash to two-division titlist Bernard Hopkins (51-5-2, 32 KOs), and, was dethroned during April's unanimous decision setback against southpaw Sergio Martinez (47-2-2, 26 KOs).
Pavlik debuted in Las Vegas with a November, 2000, second round knockout of Lafayett Randolph at the Peppermill Hotel and Casino, after which he was 5-0 with as many stoppages.
Pavlik was 10-0, with as many knockouts after making his second appearance in Las Vegas, an August of 2001, second-round knockout of Mario Mopez at the Mandalay Bay Hotel, where he is 5-0, with four knockouts.
"Anytime that I go back out there and I get into the ring, and I perform, I put everything into it. No matter what fight it is, or where the fight is," said Pavlik.
"Even with the Bernard Hopkins fight, for as down as I was in that fight, each round, I came out and I tried to do as much as I could 110 percent," said Pavlik. "What has kept me going is mainly the support of my fans, I've appreciate it a lot. That's going to be a large part of my motivation on May 7."