Kelly Pavlik can’t understand all the concern.
OK, he lost a few fights. Everyone loses. He doesn’t see why he should take the drastic step of bringing in another trainer to replace or help longtime mentor Jack Loew, as some of those around him – including his father – have suggested he do.
At the same time, the former middleweight champion and faded star acknowledges that he is in a rebuilding process after losing his championship to Sergio Martinez in April.
Pavlik (36-2, 32 knockouts) faces journeyman Brian Vera on the Manny Pacquiao-Antonio Margarito undercard Nov. 13 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on pay-per-view TV.
“I lost a fight. Big whoopee,” Pavlik said on a conference call Tuesday. “… Great champions, great fighters lose fights. It’s how you bounce back. I didn’t lose any confidence. I know what happened in the fight.
“I know what we need to do from now on. It’s a learning experience.”
What happened, Pavlik says, is that difficulty making 160 pounds sapped his energy against Martinez.
Pavlik said he had to lose nearly 40 pounds during training camp for the Martinez fight and was about 10 pounds over the middleweight limit two days before the weigh-in, which precluded him from eating or even hydrating properly.
Because he was completely dried out, he said, he had to run to burn off the final pounds he needed to lose.
Still, Pavlik rallied from a slow start to even the official scoring after eight rounds and apparently seize the momentum. And then, he said, his body shut down. That, combined with a bad gash his new cutman couldn’t control, allowed Martinez to pull away in the final rounds and win a unanimous decision.
“I told everybody that the first few rounds we had a hard time figuring him out,” Loew said. “Then, in Rounds, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8, we got right back in the fight. I think everything started to play our way. Then came the wall. It wasn’t so much what Martinez did; it’s what we didn’t do.”
Pavlik hasn’t had to worry too much about weight for the fight on Nov. 6, which is at a catch weight of 164 pounds.
However, he said he has learned his lesson. He vows to do a better job of taking care of himself between fights and use the services of a professional nutritionist, a role his father had played through the Martinez fight.
That would be particularly crucial if he decides to fight at 160, which he would do only for a big fight, instead of moving up to 168.
“We’ll see what happens after this fight,” Pavlik said. “I want to take one fight at a time. Vera is a game fighter. Once I get past this, we’ll see how it unfolds. … The only way I’ll make 160 is if I have the best nutritionist out there. Not only a sports nutritionist but one that knows boxing too, one that knows what goes on in the days leading up to a fight.
“I can make 160 if I follow a diet and be healthy. … Before anything happens at 160, that’s what I need.”
Vera (17-5, 11 KOs) represents a small step back after his disappointment against Martinez.
One, the Texan has lost four of his past five fights, each to an unbeaten opponent. And, two, Pavlik, a main-event fighter for years now, is part of the supporting cast for this card.
That fate isn’t always easy for a prideful fighter to swallow, particularly one who is only 28 and held a championship as recently as six months ago. Pavlik, though, isn’t fazed.
“It is what it is,” he said. “I lost my title; I’m fighting on the undercard of somebody else. If it was someone not as well known as Pacquiao, maybe I’d be a little concerned. Manny Pacquiao is the main guy in the sport now. There’s nothing I can do about that.
“As long as I’m in the co-main event, that’s not a big problem.”
Plus, he knows opportunities might lie ahead.
Pavlik mentioned the possibility of meeting the winner of the Martinez-Paul Williams middleweight championship fight on Nov. 20. He likes the idea of fighting one of the German middleweight title holders, Felix Sturm or Sebastian Sylvester. And there are many 168-pounders who could make for a lucrative matchup, including titleholder Lucian Bute.
The former champ figures to get a shot at one of the above in the near future. Then we’ll see whether the old trainer and a new diet add up to success.