Kelly Pavlik has pulled out of Saturday’s fight against Darryl Cunningham over the money he was offered to face IBF super middleweight titleholder Lucian Bute in his next fight, Top Rank, Pavlik’s promoter, has announced.
Pavlik’s move has forced Showtime to cancel its entire card, which was to take place in Pavlik’s hometown of Youngstown, Ohio.
Bob Arum, chariman of Top Rank, was at a loss.
“Whether or not my relationship continues with Kelly Pavlik is not the issue. I’m very, very concerned about this young man,” said Arum, who has endured Pavlik’s alcoholism and his having pulled out of a fight with Paul Williams last year because of a staph infection in his hand.
“I consider the actions that he has taken at this point to be very, very bizarre. How can anybody book him in a fight when he acts in this manner? As far as the rest of it, I’m not going to concern myself with it.”
Arum said that Pavlik (37-2, 32 knockouts) was to make a guaranteed minimum of $50,000 for fighting Cunningham. If he was victorious, he then would earn a minimum of $1.35 million to fight Bute in the fall as part of a 60-40 split in favor of Bute and his promoter, Jean Bedard.
“I am very disappointed,” Arum said. “(Top Rank president) Todd (duBoef) negotiated this deal at least a couple of weeks ago. So it’s not like Kelly didn’t know far in advance what he was getting in the entire deal.
“Now all of a sudden, he’s calling it chump change? I really think that there are some sort of mental issues there.”
Pavlik’s trainer, Jack Loew, said on Tuesday that he first learned of Pavlik’s decision early Monday, shortly after the fighter failed to show up for a 9 a.m. run.
“Well, it is what it is,” Loew said. “He didn’t show up for the run yesterday, but then we had a 10-to-2 p.m. workout scheduled for here [in Youngstown] at the Southside Gym. But he called me about 10 minutes before the workout and said, ‘I’m not taking the Bute fight, and I’m not fighting on Saturday.’
“He said, ‘Why should I fight Bute for $1.1 million if Kessler wouldn’t take $3.5 million? And why should I fight Cunningham on Saturday if I’m not taking the Bute fight? So I’m not fighting either one of these guys.’ That’s the last conversation I had with Kelly.”
Top Rank’s duBoef expressed disappointment with the situation in a news release announcing Pavlik’s decision.
“Top Rank is very disappointed at Kelly’s sudden decision to discontinue the rebuilding of his boxing career. Kelly’s team specifically outlined a strategy for Kelly to return to the ring in an effective fashion,” said duBoef.
“Kelly’s team gave us their objectives and we set them on a course, which began last May with Kelly’s fight against Alfonso Lopez and was to continue on Saturday against Darryl Cunningham. It seems Kelly has derailed this plan.”
Pavlik is coming off a majority-decision victory over Alfonso Lopez on May 10, his first fight after he lost his middleweight titles to Sergio Martinez in April of last year.