By Rick Reeno

After the two sides hit a serious roadblock, was informed that progress is being made in the ongoing negotiations to finalize a middleweight fight between WBC/WBO champion Kelly Pavlik and challenger Paul "The Punisher" Williams. The fight would take place on September 26 with Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City as the most likely venue. As previously reported, HBO is offering $3.75 million for the fight. Pavlik would get $1.75 [plus a piece of gate, etc.], Williams to get $1.55 and Top Rank would get $500K.

According to several sources, Top Rank has raised their offer to Williams. Two different numbers are being thrown around I've yet to confirm, at the present, the actual new number. From what I know, the offer still appears to be a straight buyout - with Williams and his promoter Dan Goossen receiving no percentage of the gate and/or sponsorship money [estimated at a few million between the two]. And that is the major obstacle to overcome in finalizing the deal. Obviously Goossen would like his side to get a piece of the gate and other sources of revenue generated from the fight.

Both sides have strong arguments but Williams' side is holding an ace up their sleeve. I'll get to the ace later. Top Rank argues that Pavlik is the draw, will sell the majority of the tickets and their fighter is the champion. Williams does bring a lot to table. What he brings is nearly $2 million more than HBO was willing to pay [$2 million] for Pavlik vs. Felix Sturm.

The ace in Williams' corner is more or less a guaranteed date on HBO. If Pavlik-Williams crumbles, Williams is probably going to fight on October 3, on HBO, against WBO junior middleweight champion Sergei Dzinziruk [or another HBO approved opponent]. Pavlik on the other hand is backed against a wall because there is no guarantee that he gets a date on HBO, at least in 2009. That gives Williams and Goossen an advantage in the negotiations because Pavlik has not appeared on HBO since last year's decision loss to Bernard Hopkins, and he needs to get back in the spotlight with a strong win over a strong opponent to erase the stench of the Hopkins loss. On the other side, Williams’ career would reach new heights if he were to beat the number one middleweight in the world. That would open up some heavy opportunities for Williams in the future.

Pavlik-Williams is a very strong fight and both of these guys need this kind of fight. The fact that both sides are still talking and trying to work things out is a good sign. Hopefully they sit down; both sides budge a little bit, HBO gets involved and they finalize the deal.