By Lem Satterfield
BoxingScene.com caught up to trainer Jack Loew in Youngstown, Ohio, where he was in the midst of completing the first official day of workouts with former WBA and WBO middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik in preparation for a May 7 date with unbeaten Alphonso Lopez.
The 28-year-old Pavlik (36-2, 32 knockouts) is back in the gym for the first time since early January, when he was released from a two-month stay at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif., for treatment of a problem with alcohol.
Pavlik will meet 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) in defense of his WBO welterweight crown against Shane Mosley (46-6-1, 39 KOs) at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.
Pavlik's career highlights include dethroning Jermain Taylor by seventh-round knockout in Atlantic City in September of 2007, and scoring a knockout over Edison Miranda in May of 2007.
Pavlik's two losses were by decision to Bernard Hopkins up at 170 pounds in a non-title bout in October of 2008, and, when he was dethroned following a decision in April by Sergio Martinez (47-2-2, 26 KOs).
But Loew believes that Pavlik could eventually 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.
BoxingScene.com spoke to Loew in this Q&A.
BoxingScene.com: How did the first day of training go for Kelly Pavlik?
Jack Loew: We ran this morning for the first day of camp, but Kelly has been running for a couple of weeks now. But we took our first long run today, and then, we'll get into the gym at around 1 p.m.
BoxingScene.com: Can you shed light on what Kelly Pavlik has been through and where he is right now in terms of his career?
Jack Loew: 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. 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.
I think that as long as Kelly does the right things -- and it's been that way -- then so far, so good. He's done all of the things that all of us have asked of him. You know, Kelly did not have to go and stay at Betty Ford Center, but he chose to. So I think that that shows a lot right there.
Kelly took the step, and he's doing what he has to do every day to keep it like that. I just want go forward with it and I don't want to dwell on the past.
BoxingScene.com: With some of the criticism of you as a trainer, how has that been for you personally?
Jack Loew: It's been tough. It's been tough with being where we were at and what I went through while he was going through what he went through. But I didn't throw him under the bus. I didn't say anything about what he was going through. I just pretty much ate what everybody had to say about it. But it's like protecting your son, you know?
You do whatever you've got to do to protect him or them, and I was [doing that.] That's what I did. When he was ready to come forward, you know, that's what he did. And he's taken care of his problem and that's where he's at. Hopefully, that will stay strong. But as far as myself, like I said, I can't control what anybody or everybody says.
I know what I'm capable of bringing to the table. I think that I've done a helluva job with Kelly, bringing him up. I've been with him since he was 10 years old. They say that that doesn't work, and I believe that we've proven all of that wrong.
BoxingScene.com: Do you believe that what Kelly Pavlik has accomplished as a fighter is under appreciated?
Jack Loew: I do. You know, we have two losses on our record, and I can give you a bunch of reasons why we lost those fights. But I don't want to because I don't want to make it as an excuse. I mean, we lost to Bernard Hopkins, who is going to go down as one of the greatest fighters of all time.
And we lost to Sergio Martinez, who is putting his stamp on the sport out there right now.
BoxingScene.com: What are your thoughts on Kelly Pavlik's loyalty to you?
Jack Loew: This relationship means the world to me. Kelly has made my career, and I've had a lot to do with his career. Kelly has stuck by me when, believe me, he was being pulled in a hundred different directions. But he stuck by me, and, like I said, that means the world to me. I will never turn my back on this kid, no matter what the situation is.
BoxingScene.com: What is your perspective on what Kelly Pavlik still is capable of accomplishing in the sport?
Jack Loew: I truly believe this, and I've said this a lot of times. Maybe I've said it because I knew what he was going through. But I've told everybody that they have not yet seen the best of Kelly Pavlik. 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. Like I've said, I've said it a zillion times. But the reasons I couldn't say it before were obvious. But now I'm telling you. People have not seen the best of Kelly Pavlik. But they're going to. The best is yet to come from Kelly Pavlik.
BoxingScene.com: Who would you like to see him fight?
Jack Loew: I mean we're obviously not going to be fighting at 160 right now. And we're not going to probably forever. But, you know, I think that a lot of it depends on how we look and feel in our next fight. I know that everybody says, 'Well, it's just Alphonso Lopez.' But the thing about that is, 'How do we look against Alphonso Lopez?'
You know, if we go in there, and we show a lot of ring rust, then, you know, maybe it's another warm up fight, or another tuneup fight, or another comeback fight and then we jump into the fire. But if we look good in this fight, and Kelly goes out there and he shakes everything off, and we just take care of business, I would love to fight [WBC super middleweight champion] Carl Froch.
I mean, we're No. 1 in the WBC, and I'd love to fight Froch. You know, everybody is out there dismissing Kelly. And I read all of the headlines. That's fine. That's great. We were the under dog when we fought Jermain Taylor. We were even the under dog when we fought Edison Miranda before we knocked him out.
So, you know, everybody has always had us as the under dog, and that's fine. Carl Froch, maybe Arthur Abraham, you know, we'd love to fight those guys. They've mentioned [IBF super middleweight titlist] Lucien Bute. Even Bute. I'd like to stay away from those left-handers right off of the bat after facing Sergio Martinez.
But we have no problem fighting any of those guys. I think that Kelly is right there with them. I think, like I said, a lot of people have under estimated him and written him off. They've said a lot of negative things because of his losses and what he's gone through, and that's fine. We've got something to prove because we've put ourselves in this position.
But we'll go out there and we'll prove ourselves again.