by Robert Morales
Kelly Pavlik started off by speaking softly. But by the time he got done with a telephone interview Wednesday, he was steamed at the recent rumor that had him entering a rehabilitation clinic because of a problem with alcohol.
The story first broke on RingTalk. Before Pavlik knew it, his entire hometown of Youngstown, Ohio, was abuzz. The story grew bigger and bigger and eventually he was to have recently done all sorts of bad things.
Let's see, he got into a fight in the middle of a Youngstown street and was arrested. Here's another one: "I broke a beer bottle over someone's head and stabbed him." Through all of this, his father, Mike, was supposed to have died, according to yet another unsubstantiated rumor.
Well, we spoke to Mike Pavlik as well Wednesday, so he is very much alive. Such is the life of a superstar athlete living in a fairly small town where he is the only person everybody cares a lot about.
"I missed one charity event and it turned into a whole complete opposite thing of what happened," said Pavlik, who holds two of the four middleweight title belts. "The people here in Youngstown, there is one story and they want to run with it and turn it into every possible story. Did I stab someone? Did I shoot someone? I don't live in New York or Los Angeles, I live in Youngstown.
"The only name (in Youngstown) is my name and if I s**t the wrong way, it hits the paper. It totally got blown out of proportion because it started in Youngstown and everybody got wind of it."
Pavlik, incidentally, said he didn't want to sound cocky by saying he is the only name in Youngstown. But it is what it is.
The story on RingTalk centered on anonymous sources, but Pavlik said he believes he knows how this all began.
"We have an idea where it started, but you just can't touch on that," said Pavlik, who said that none of the aforementioned rumors hold any truth. "There are a couple of ideas on who started it."
Pavlik said a missed charity event may have been at the root.
"I wore myself thin doing all these charities and everything else and it was time to say 'No,' " he said. "The way I've been busy I honestly kind of forgot about the United Way. I was thinking about (doing something with) my family and I remembered at the last minute."
Pavlik in December 2005 was convicted of a misdemeanor assault charge on a Mahoning County police officer for a dispute outside a Market Street bar. But Wednesday he vehemently denied having a drinking problem.
"No, I don't," he said. "When I go into training camp, there is no drinking. There is nothing where I ever wake up and say, 'Boy, I want to drink today. I have a couple of beers when I work (at home)."
And, he admitted, he tips a few on Thursdays, which is his night to play darts at a local establishment.
"It's competition and there is drinking," he said. "When it comes time to cut myself off, then it's off. There is no, 'Oh, man, do I wish I could have another beer.' If you drive down the street (in Youngstown) and take a look, one of every five establishments there is going to be a restaurant with a beer sign on it. People drink. Do I live off of it? No."
Pavlik admitted to one thing.
"I did go to a sports psychologist," he said. "I could name you 40 guys right now who go to one. Alex Rodriguez has one that travels with him."
By this time Pavlik was starting to get a bit revved up.
"I don't really care about the rumors," he said. "I'm going to eat good, I'm going to sleep good. It's my family, it's my kids when they grow up."
Pavlik then took a shot at the writer who first broke the story on RingTalk, saying he should have gotten his facts straight.
Pavlik also seemed genuinely hurt that being painted in a negative light could take away from who he is.
"I have the biggest heart in the world," Pavlik said. "I go out of my way to do kid events. I spread myself thin because I want to. If there is an event to do, I'll do it."
Pavlik described himself as a simple guy.
"I'm not Money Mayweather," said Pavlik, 27. "I don't wear all those watches and jewelry. I still drive around in the same car I got in an endorsement. I couldn't care less about that. I had been broke for 25 years of my life. Unfortunately, I am put into a different category. People see me on dart night and say, 'Oh, he's drunk.' At the same time, what are you doing there? Don't judge me. I'm not a politician, I ain't gotta watch where I pee."
Pavlik was working at home Wednesday. He was a bit bummed about a broken water pipe on his two-acre property that was making it difficult for him to finish building a pond. There is some irony in that, as Pavlik is indeed a big fish in the little pond that is Youngstown.
"This is still all new to us," said Mike Pavlik, his son's co-manager. "I guess it is part of the territory, being part of this, being world champion. You don't have to like everything, but you have to take the good with the bad."
Meanwhile, Pavlik and his father both said they are looking forward to a fight with fellow middleweight champion Felix Sturm; it would probably take place in October. An accord has not been reached, but things apparently look good in that regard.
"I spoke to Cameron last week and they are pretty confident the fight is going to come off," said Mike Pavlik, referring to Cameron Dunkin, Kelly Pavlik's co-manager. "I think people will enjoy that fight."
Pavlik (35-1, 31 KOs) wants Sturm. But at this point, he just wants to fight again. He is coming off a ninth-round stoppage of Marco Antonio Rubio in February in Youngstown. That was on the heels of Pavlik's only loss, which came via lopsided decision to Bernard Hopkins last October in Atlantic City.
"I just can't wait until they schedule the next fight," said Pavlik, who is promoted by Top Rank Inc. "That is what I look forward to. These rumors have to go. How the hell do they have the balls to say that I checked into rehab? How could they go write that?"
Richard Schaefer is Perturbed
Richard Schaefer on Monday was driving to the Golden Boy Promotions offices in Los Angeles, where he works as CEO of Oscar De La Hoya's company.
During a telephone conversation Schaefer was told about an interview we had with welterweight champion "Sugar" Shane Mosley on Friday, and how angry Mosley is that promoter Bob Arum is hell-bent on putting together a fight between his Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto instead of one between Pacquiao and Mosley, a Golden Boy fighter.
In Mosley's mind, Arum is doing this out of sheer greed: "Bob Arum, at this point it's all about money for him."
Arum promotes Pacquiao and Cotto, which means he makes out like a bandit if the fight gets made for November. If Pacquiao-Mosley were to happen, Arum would hit the jackpot, but it wouldn't be as big.
Golden Boy has a financial interest in Pacquiao's promotional contract. But that is the case no matter who Pacquaio fights, so that does not enter into the equation.
"Frankly, I'm pissed, too," Schaefer said.
But his reasoning is slightly different from Mosley's. Whereas Mosley believes Arum just wants to pocket as much money as possible for this one November date, Schaefer is of the mind that Arum knows only too well that Pacquiao stands a much greater chance of defeating Cotto than he does Mosley.
"If you throw out all the bulls**t, that's what this is really all about," Schaefer said.
Arum, Schaefer suggested, wants to keep his cash cow giving milk as long as possible. Once Pacquiao loses, the milk will dry up some.
There has been plenty of speculation about which fight would make Pacquiao more money. Schaefer said Pacquiao would make more money fighting Mosley because Mosley is willing to make more concessions.
"But if Manny is going to go out and fight all these other guys and Shane is the last man standing, Shane is not going to be willing to make all those concessions (at a later date)," Schaefer said.
Like Mosley, Schaefer does not put any of this on Pacquiao. Pacquiao would undoutedly be the favorite against Cotto, but perhaps not against Mosley.
"He (Pacquiao) was a big underdog in that first fight against (Marco Antonio) Barrera," Schaefer said, "and I think he thrives on that."
One more thing: Schaefer believes that HBO is going to have a difficult time putting together a good 24/7 series for a Pacquiao-Cotto fight because neither speaks English very well.
Goossen Has a Suggestion
Mosley last fought in January, when he stopped Antonio Margarito in the ninth round. If he waits until sometime next year to get a shot at Pacquiao should Pacquiao defeat Cotto in November, it will be a good year between fights for Mosley.
That does not bode well for a 37-year-old. But Mosley insisted he has no intention of fighting Paul Williams, Andre Berto or anyone else while waiting for his shot at Pacquiao.
Mosley was asked why he does not want to fight Williams since Williams very well could be considered the best welterweight in the world should he move back down from junior middleweight, where he went because he had difficulty getting other top welterweights in the ring.
Mosley admitted Williams is a tough nut to crack. But he also correctly pointed out that while it took Williams 12 rounds to win a decision from Margarito in July 2007, he won virtually every round from Margarito on the way to pulverizing him in the ninth.
Dan Goossen, who promotes Williams, had a few choice words regarding that logic.
"Of course he (Mosley) was able to stop Margarito because he was softened up by Paul, and Paul probably beat Margarito with the plaster of Paris in his (Margarito's) gloves."
Goossen reiterated that if Mosley really believes he is the best welterweight in the world, all he has to do is say the word and Williams will be glad to come back down.
"He would be down at 147 in a heartbeat if Shane wanted to take that fight," Goossen said. "The only reason we're not campaigning at 147 any longer is for the obvious reason - there are too many excuses with the 147-pounders out there. In layman's terms, Shane is not going to get Pacquiao and we would offer Shane his biggest payday since 2007 (in his fight against Cotto).
"I believe we would sell out Staples Center (in Los Angeles) for that fight and we would be able to determine who is the best welterweight in the world. We are not going to wait forever for Shane. He is not going to get Pacquiao and his next best fight is Paul Williams. If he decides not to move forward with it, that's his decision."
If Mosley wants to keep the money flowing into his bank account, he had better consider a fight with Williams and not take too much time mulling it over. According to Goossen, he and Sergiy Dzinziruk's team have agreed in principle for a fight in September against Williams.
Dzinziruk holds one of the four major belts at junior middleweight; Williams is the interim champion to that belt.
"He is a very tough and skilled champion," Goossen said of Dzinziruk, of Germany via the Ukraine. "I've had talks with HBO, they are familiar with it."
If a deal is reached, Goossen said the fight will likely be held in California, where Williams (37-1, 27 KOs) has fought 11 times. Six of those fights have been in Southern California, including five of Williams' past nine.
"To me, Paul a California fighter now, so I'm always looking to do things with Paul in California," Goossen said of Williams, of Augusta, Ga. "The fans here are very familiar with him. He beat Margarito here and he beat Walter Matthysse here. He is like the Manny Ramirez of hometown favorites."
Excuse Goossen for his baseball analogy. His brother, Greg, played major league baseball from 1965-70.
As for Dzinziruk, at 33 he is six years older than Williams. He is 36-0 with 22 knockouts. He won the title with a unanimous decision over Daniel Santos - all three scores were 115-112 - in December 2005 and has made five defenses.
Like Williams, he is a southpaw.
Robert Morales covers boxing for the Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, and BoxingScene.com.