By Ryan Burton
WBO/WBC/Ring middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik takes time out of his training camp to talk to BoxingScene.com about his upcoming bout with Sergio Martinez. The Youngstown Ohio native holds back nothing and bombastically responds to the criticism he has received for his loss to Bernard Hopkins and an admittedly rough 2009. Pavlik says that he is held to a higher standard than a lot of other fighters and that he feeds off the criticism to prove that he is among boxing's elite. He is confident that the Martinez fight will be the start of a banner year for him. Then in 2011, he plans to move up in weight after the Super Six tournament is over. See what else the "Ghost" had to say in this must read exclusive interview.
BoxingScene.com: How is training going for the Martinez fight?
Kelly Pavlik: It is going really really good. We just got into it about two weeks ago. Everything is going great in sparring. I sparred today. I sparred yesterday. We are up to six rounds going hard. Everything right now is right on schedule.
BoxingScene.com: Who have you brought in to mimic Martinez?
Kelly Pavlik: We are bringing in a bunch of guys. Right now we have Durrell Richardson. He is a good professional fighter who was a really good amateur. He is a good southpaw. His uncle is Greg Richardson who was a WBC bantamweight champion from Youngstown (Ohio). He is a real tough fighter, awkward. He goes for different angles. We then are bringing in a couple other guys to get some different looks. Right now we have about four or five different sparring partners.
BoxingScene.com: Did you take anything away from the Martinez-Williams fight that you think will help you?
Kelly Pavlik: Not really. Just to watch Martinez versus a tall fighter is one thing. The fact that Paul Williams is more of a volume puncher. I throw a lot of punches myself. I am kind of a busy fighter and I am an aggressive fighter but I have a lot more tactical skills than Paul Williams. Paul Williams pretty much just throws one hundred punches a round and hopes something happens. There really isn't anything to take away from that for that reason plus Paul Williams is a southpaw so Sergio had to fight a different style than he will fight against me. There were a couple of things but other than that there wasn't much I could take from that fight.
BoxingScene.com: Some critics say that you will have trouble with Sergio Martinez because of his awkward style and that he will probably try to move and try to out box you similar to what Bernard Hopkins did. How do you respond to that?
Kelly Pavlik: You know what (laughing), I love that. I really really love that. There are a couples things there that don't really bother me but are kind of funny. First of all I beat Jermain Taylor twice. Jermain Taylor was an Olympic bronze medalist which means something in that in the amateurs everything has to be associated with speed. He won a bronze medal then the kid came up and he beat Bernard Hopkins twice. He outpointed him. He is faster than Bernard Hopkins and was better than Bernard Hopkins. I beat him (Taylor) twice. Once by a knockout and once by a decision.
I fought Bernard Hopkins and there are medical records that prove that I wasn't me the night of the fight. Now I don't even bring it up to people. I am just tired of people always going off one fight. Anybody that knows me and watched me fight knows that wasn't me the night I fought Bernard Hopkins. Everybody knows that. It was just a bad night and he didn't really hurt me. He beat me up. I ain't going to lie. He won the fight but it wasn't a fight where he was hammering me from the get go. He didn't rock me and he didn't put me on the canvas. Everybody goes off that one bad fight and they say I am no good, that I can't fight anybody that has any foot movement.
Well its kind of funny that I beat a guy who beat Hopkins twice and who was undefeated the first time I beat him. The guy goes to the Olympics, wins a bronze medal and has great handspeed and I beat him twice. Now you got guys like Roy Jones who have lost what five out of his last ten fights? He is turning back around and fighting Bernard Hopkins and no one says sh*t about it.
You have guys like Cotto who got beat up twice and he turns around and he is moving up to fight Foreman for his title. There is nothing said about Miguel Cotto. He has been stopped, knocked out twice. You have guys like De La Hoya and Pacquiao. De La Hoya had six losses and Pacquiao had four losses (editors note: 3 losses and a draw to Marquez) and they still fought big fights after losses. Floyd Mayweather turned around and fought Marquez who came up two weight classes and Marquez wasn't the same fighter he was when he fought Pacquiao and nothing is said. Something is said about me because I am a Midwestern fighter.
Me being a Midwest fighter they think I am just a rugged tough fighter who can't fight anybody who has any movement. With Sergio Martinez I hope and I pray to God that he is watching the Bernard Hopkins fight and that he does everything that Bernard Hopkins did because he is going to be in for a big big surprise.
BoxingScene.com: Being that you are a bigger puncher than Paul Williams and Williams knocked Martinez down do you feel you have a good chance to get him out of there early?
Kelly Pavlik: I do. I don't think it will be early on. I do have to give Martinez credit. He is a good fighter. He is elusive and awkward. He comes from different angles and I definitely need to be careful going for a knock out against a guy like that. I think my work rate and being that I am fighting a southpaw, my straight right hand is in my favor. I have a great right hand and I think that is going to be a key against a southpaw. I just think that later in the fight a stoppage is a great possibility. Right now I am training to go twelve rounds and win the decision.
BoxingScene.com: In your opinion who is the tougher fight for you, Paul Williams or Sergio Martinez?
Kelly Pavlik: I definitely think Martinez. I am not just saying that because I am fighting him. I think overall because of his handspeed and footwork and awkward style with the different angles he comes from. I think he is a lot tougher fight than Williams. Williams gets hit a lot. He got hit a lot when he fought Margarito. I think if Antonio Margarito fought him the way he did at the end early on that he could have won that fight at the smaller weight class. I think that Martinez is definitely the more dangerous fight.
BoxingScene.com: The last time I interviewed you was at the press conference to announce the Miguel Espino fight. You had mentioned that 2009 wasn't the year that you wanted it to be. What do you have planned for 2010?
Kelly Pavlik: Well go out there and beat Sergio Martinez. I want to fight the biggest fights I can possibly get. Obviously Paul Williams I think would be a big fight but he won't take the fight. There were a lot of things that were said that I was ducking him and everything else but if you go to the Ring magazine and look at the picture of the press conference we had on September 29th you can see my hand and see where I was still swollen through the knuckles. It was so visible and there are reasons I couldn't fight him. Then after the Espino fight I called Paul Williams out probably three or four times and it shows that I want to fight him but I don't really think that fight will be there. We have to take care of business with Martinez first and then hopefully there are some big fights in 2010 and of course hopefully by 2011 the Super Six will be over and I will be able to move up and fight one of the top guys there.
BoxingScene.com: So you want to fight at middleweight this year and then move up next year?
Kelly Pavlik: Yeah I think so. I think thats the best move. Right now the middleweight division is dry. You got a lot of great fighters but not a lot of big names you know what I mean? I think that going up to super middleweight and fighting some of those names will be pretty big. There are a lot of great fighters in that Super Six tournament.
BoxingScene.com: Are you interested at all in unification bouts with Sturm or Sylvester?
Kelly Pavlik: Yeah but unfortunately Felix Sturm signed that ten fight deal in Germany so I think that one is out of the question and Sylvester I don't think would take the fight. Right now there aren't really any big fights out there. Sturm is tied up so there is no else to fight.
BoxingScene.com: Your promoter Top Rank recently signed Winky Wright. Is that a fight they have talked to you about or a fight that interests you?
Kelly Pavlik: Yes. I am not going to hold anything against Winky but when he had the belts he didn't want anything to do with us and now all of a sudden he wants to fight me because his career is over. There is no other fight out there for him. It's his only payday left so its a no-win situation for me. Why would I go fight a guy who doesn't have a title? If I beat the sh*t out of him they say I beat a 40 year old man. If I was Arthur Abraham or who else can I say, Pacquiao or anybody else they can get away with beating up Winky Wright. If I beat Winky Wright it will be said that I fought a 40 year old man that is way past his prime. It isn't worth it for me. I don't get anything out of it. Unfortunately in my situation I have to fight killers and monsters to get the recognition.
BoxingScene.com: Obviously you got a lot of criticism for the loss to Hopkins and the injuries and illnesses last year. Do you feed off of the criticism? Does it make you train harder to prove the naysayers wrong?
Kelly Pavlik: I definitely do. That is the thing, you know when I came up I fought Lenord Pierre and I fought (Jose Luis) Zertuche who is a dangerous fighter. No one else would fight the guy. I fought him and beat him. Then I fought Edison Miranda. At the time I fought Miranda and knocked him out Miranda was coming off a fight where he beat the crap out of Abraham. He broke his jaw. If that fight wasn't in Germany, Edison Miranda would have won that fight. He beat the supposedly greatest fighter ever in Abraham and I go in there and knock him out in the sixth round and I turn around and I knock Jermain Taylor out and then I beat him again.
I fought all these big fights and then all of a sudden I take my mandatories in Gary Lockett who was a mandatory and I beat him and knocked him out in three rounds. I did what I was supposed to do. I didn't go to a ten round or twelve round decision with the kid. I knocked him out in three rounds. Then I fight Marco Antonio Rubio who is every bit as dangerous as the guys some of these other fighters fight so the criticism is always going to be there for me. I am a Midwestern fighter and I shouldn't be where I am at in most people's eyes. I have to go out there and fight the killers. That is what I am looking to do. The only way I am going to satisfy my critics is by fighting the top top guys and that is what I am looking to do.
BoxingScene.com: You are closing in on your 28th birthday, you have two belts and have made good money. How much longer do you want to keep boxing?
Kelly Pavlik: That is a good question. The fact is that I had a bad 2009. I have never been a person to shy away from fights. I fought everyone when I was coming up. For instance I fought Edison Miranda for nothing just to get where I am at today. That was to help ramp up for 2009, a year that I thought I would get some big fights. I wasn't able to have the year I wanted. I think I got another good year of big fights with the big names before I think about retiring. I have some making up to do.
BoxingScene.com: Do you have a message for the fans?
Kelly Pavlik: To all the fans that are still cheering for me I want to thank you guys and stay tuned because I am going to go out there and give my 110%.
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