By Jake Donovan
The primary objective in this comeback tour for Kelly Pavlik was for the fighter to prove he can return to past glory. Part of the rehabilitation process is doing something that hasn’t happened in his career since his first year as a pro – fight twice in the span of less than 30 days.
Pavlik’s upcoming July 7 showdown with Will Rosinsky comes a mere four weeks after his last bout. The former middleweight king scored his third straight win with a 7th round stoppage of Scott Sigmon earlier this month on ESPN2 Friday Night Fights.
The bout with Rosinsky – which airs live on HBO from the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. - fell into place after Brandon Rios was forced to withdraw from the slot. That he was still in shape in the days following his ESPN2 showing was a positive sign that Pavlik is all-in on this latest comeback.
The reward is a return to HBO’s airwaves for the first time in more than two years, fighting on the undercard of a 122 lb. unification bout between stablemate Nonito Donaire and Jeffrey Mathebula.
“It was a golden opportunity and not one that I could pass up,” acknowledged Pavlik (39-2, 34KO) in taking the fight on short notice. “I’m still in good shape and coming in against a very game fighter. People will see the best come out of me that night. We are still a week-and-a-half out but fine-tuning some things and are just ready to go.”
Pavlik’s last appearance on HBO saw his 2 ½ year lineal middleweight title reign come to a close, dropping a unanimous decision to Sergio Martinez. What followed was a rapid deterioration beyond the ropes, one that included two separate trips to rehab for alcohol abuse and his alienating an entire industry with a Me-first attitude leading to promising opportunities falling by the wayside.
The past several months have seen several changes in Pavlik, beginning with new surroundings.
Once a hero in his economy-stricken Youngstown, OH hometown, the former champ has since packed his bags and headed west to Oxnard, Calif. Pavlik now trains under the watchful eye of Robert Garcia and has looked sharp in each of his past two comeback fights, including his dismantling of Sigmon.
More important than the win itself was that he escaped unscathed and remained in good enough shape to be able to say yes when this latest opportunity was offered.
“We came out of this fight healthy. There were no cuts, no sore hands,” Pavlik points out, along with a similar handicap his opponent is forced to endure. “The question comes down to this kid (Rosinsky). He did the same thing and has been out a shorter period of time than I was (the Queens, NY-based Rosinsky last fought June 14 in New York City).
“If it was a fight where I came out and my hands were sore or were still tender, I’d say maybe we pass. But I’m alright but we’re ready to go.”
According to promoter Bob Arum, a promising enough showing next weekend will lead to a headliner slot on HBO as early as the fall. A less-risky move would have been to savor his past two wins – having also knocked out Aaron Jaco in two rounds this past March – and just trained that much harder for a more lucrative bout against a top super middleweight.
However, this latest redemption isn’t about toning down risks, but making amends. With that, Pavlik offers his own sign of good faith by agreeing to his quickest in-ring turnaround in more than a decade.
“It’s huge for my career,” Pavlik believes. “If I’m going to make it to the next level, these are the steps that I have to take.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]