By Mark Vester
Former WBC/WBO middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik (36-2, 32 KOs) wants to make a big impression on May 7 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Pavlik faces unbeaten Alfonso Lopez (21-0, 16KOs) on the Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley undercard. The fight with Lopez will be Pavlik's official jump to the super middleweight division.
Pavlik's promoter, Bob Arum of Top Rank, believes Pavlik is ready for the big fights but they are not going to make the mistake of overlooking Lopez.
“Kelly is ready but the guy he’s fighting on May 7 is no pushover. He has a lot of knockouts, he’s a Texas kid, and that’s a tough chore. We’ll see how he does in that fight and then we’ll talk it over with the team and see who comes next. The super middleweight division is rich with talent and Kelly, I hope and believe, fits right in with all of them," Arum said.
Arum considers a fight with IBF champion Lucian Bute as the most lucrative opportunity for Palvik at 168. The Bute camp is looking to stage a title defense in Romania by the summer, and then a possible fall showdown with Mikkel Kessler, but they are also interested in facing Pavlik.
“You have to understand that there are a lot of great fighters out there in the super middleweight division, but with the exception of Bute in Canada, they’re not particularly big attractions in terms of ticket sales. In order for them to make a big ticket fight they have to have Kelly Pavlik. It’s not a question of who Kelly is going to go after, it’s a question of who the team wants Kelly to fight. These fighters in order to have a big fight have to fight Kelly Pavlik,” Arum said.
Some wonder if Pavlik's middleweight power will travel to 168. The boxer expects his power to increase because he was killing his body to make the middleweight limit for the last few years.
“Actually, I see it being even better. It’s not like I’m moving up to go to 168 and I’m adding weight on. I still have to lose a considerable amount of weight to make 168. When you walk around 195 that’s still walking around pretty heavy for a super middleweight or a light heavyweight. I don’t see the strength being an issue or power-punching," Pavlik said.