By Lem Satterfield
Former WBA and WBO middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik, who is scheduled to face Alphonso Lopez on May 7, began his first day of preparation with a Monday morning run, and could throw his first punch of the camp later in the day, his trainer, Jack Loew, told BoxngScene.com from Pavlik's native Youngstown, Ohio.
Lopez represents a comeback for the 28-year-old Pavlik (36-2, 32 knockouts), who, in early January, was released following a two-month stay at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif., for treatment for a problem with alcohol.
"We ran this morniing for the first day of camp, but Kelly has been running for a couple of weeks now," said Loew. "But we took our first, long run today, and then, we'll get into the gym at around 1 p.m."
A married father of two, young children, Pavlik will face the 28-year-old Lopez (21-0, 16 KOs) of Cut And Shoot, Texas, on the under card of a main event featuring eight division titlist Manny Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 KOs) defending his WBO welterweight crown against Shane Mosley (46-6-1, 39 KOs) at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.
It has appeared that Pavlik has had issues with alcohol since shortly after dethroning Jermain Taylor by seventh-round knockout in Atlantic City in September of 2007.
"There is really nothing that I want to say about the past, or about what Kelly went through. What it is is what it is. We're moving forward. I'm not looking back on what happened," said Loew.
"I don't know what went on when Kelly was in rehab. We've talked about it very briefly. That's pretty much a personal, family issue, and I've left it like that," said Loew. "I think that as long as Kelly does the right things and it's been that way so far, so good. He's done all of the things that all of us have asked of him."
Pavlik suffered his first loss to Bernard Hopkins by decision in October of 2008 while they were fighting at 170 pounds, after which he twice pulled out of scheduled match ups with Paul Williams, citing an infection on one of his fingers.
Pavlik scored two straight knockouts after losing to Hopkins before being dethroned in April by Sergio Martinez (47-2-2, 26 KOs), losing a unanimous decision.
Pavlik most recently cited a rib injury as his reason for pulling out of a scheduled bout at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium with Bryan Lee Vera that was to take place on the November under card of Pacquiao's unanimous decision win over Antonio Margarito (38-7, 27 KOs) for the vacant WBC junior middleweight (154 pounds) title, which Pacquiao has since relinquished.
"First of all, we've got to see how heavy or light Kelly wants to fight at in the future. It looks like he'll go at super middleweight, but we will have to see. That's what this fight is going to demonstrate," said Top Rank Promotions CEO, Bob Arum.
"We'll do this fight at 170, which is, you know, two pounds away from the super middleweight limit. So we're not looking at potential fights right now," said Arum. "We're looking at what the right weight category is for Kelly. And if it's 168, then that's what will be determined on May 7."
In victory over Lopez, depending on how Pavlik looks, said Loew, he could pursue title shots against either 33-year-old WBC super middleweight king, Carl Froch (27-1, 20 KOs), of England, or even 31-year-old southpaw IBF belt-holder Lucian Bute (27-0, 22 KOs), Canada.
Bute has Saturday night's defense against Brian Magee (34-3-1, 24 KOs), who is 9-0-1, with five knockouts, including four straight stoppages since, himself, being knocked out by Froch in the 11th round in May of 2006.
Froch has a May 21 defense of his belt against 42-year-old ex-champion, Glen Johnson (51-14-2, 35 KOs) that is the semifinal of Showtime's Super Six Super Middleweight Classic Tournament whose winner must then face the semifinal victor of a May 14 clash featuring WBA king Andre Ward (23-0, 13 KOs) against former middleweight titlist Arthur Abraham (32-2, 26 KOs).
"I've told everybody that they have not yet seen the best of Kelly Pavlik," said Loew. "And I think that a very healthy, clean Kelly Pavlik is going to be right back at the top of the world. And I think that he will definitely win another world title, and that's no matter what weight he decides to fight at."