By Mark Vester

WBO/WBC middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik makes his return on December 19 in his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio. Pavlik defends his title against heavy underdog Miguel Espino. Finally recovered from a staph infection on his left hand, Pavlik is taking his return very seriously and moved the training from camp Youngstown to Las Vegas.

"There were a lot of distractions at home, over the simplest things. It could be the price of tickets. People calling up and saying 'the price of tickets are too high, too expensive, we don't want to spend that amount of money on them. Team Pavlik's fault for this or that.'  There were little distractions. We came out here to clear our head and focus on what we have and about a week and a half before the fight we'll head back to get used to the climate," Pavlik said to's Ryan Burton.

"[After Espino] I want to fight the best, hopefully get the winner of Williams and Martinez. Right now that's the biggest fight out there."

Pavlik was scheduled to face Paul Williams on October 3 and December 5. He withdrew from both dates due to the staph infection. He was forced to return to action a few weeks early when the WBO/WBC threatened to strip him of the titles. Pavlik tells BoxingScene that he is not ducking Williams and wants to fight the winner of Williams-Sergio Martinez next.

"First of all, what people in boxing have to understand - when I fought Bernard Hopkins, I was suppossed to fight Paul Williams and Paul Williams pulled out. If anyone wants to check with any of the promoters, we were in talks to fight Paul Williams. Paul Williams didn't take the fight so we went up two weight classes, not one but two weight classes to fight Bernard Hopkins. Why would I duck Paul Williams to fight Bernard Hopkins at light heavyweight? Hopkins, one of the most craftiest fighters in the sport, ever," Pavlik said.

"Because of the injury, we were looking to push the fight back three weeks or another month and they didn't want to hear it. The reason we are fighting two weeks after, on the 19th, is because the organizations came down and said I had to fight or they were going to strip me of my titles. I wouldn't be fighting until the end of January if it wasn't for that. They can say what they want. Williams knows that I wanted to fight him but he wants to keep that whole 'I'm the most feared fighter' thing going."

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