Moments after handing Kelly Pavlik the first setback of his career in October 2008, Bernard Hopkins lectured and consoled his dejected opponent in the ring.
"I said to him, 'Don't let this destroy you,'" said the 46-year-old Hopkins in an interview with RingTV.com on Thursday. 'Because if you don't say that you're going to come back from this, I'm going to come and find you and whoop your ass.'"
It appears that the 29-year-old Pavlik (37-2, 32 knockouts) could use a good spanking from an elder right about now, when Pavlik's behavior could be ruining his career.
On Tuesday, Pavlik pulled out of Saturday's fight against Darryl Cunningham on Showtime, citing his unhappiness with the offer he received from Top Rank to face Cunningham and then IBF super middleweight titleholder Lucian Bute in November.
Pavlik’s move forced Showtime to cancel the entire card, which was slated to take place in Pavlik's hometown of Youngstown, Ohio, and angered everyone involved — network officials, Top Rank chief Bob Arum, manager Cameron Dunkin and trainer Jack Loew.
Arum said that Pavlik was to make at least $50,000 for fighting Cunningham and, if triumphant, a minimum of $1.35 million to fight Bute as part of a 60-40 split in favor of Bute and his promoter Jean Bedard.
Now Pavlik has nothing in the works and his reputation is taking public beating. Hopkins said he would offer counsel at Pavlik's request.
"This wouldn't be about him pulling out of the fight or anything else like that. I don't care about that mess. But I just know that if Kelly Pavlik was to reach out to Bernard Hopkins, I would do it next month. I would do it tomorrow," said Hopkins.
"If I could talk to Kelly Pavlik for one day, or even a couple of hours, I think that I could reach him. I think that he can still be a dominant force, if not, a champion of the world once again — way before this year is out, if not by early 2012."
Hopkins wouldn't reveal much of what the conversation might consist of but said he he has no ulterior motive.
"I am sure that the entire boxing world would be panicking, but it wouldn't be nothing related to tortious interference or anything like that," said Hopkins.
"This ain't no fighter to a manager, and I'm not trying to be his promoter. I don't want to promote him or be his manager. But I have the right to talk to him, fighter to fighter, and he has the right to seek that out."
Hopkins said that he would be available following the defense of his RING and WBC light heavyweight belts against Chad Dawson on Oct. 15 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
"Listen, man, Kelly Pavlik could come to my next fight. I would get him there. Kelly could watch me do my thing, then, I could do it after the fight," said Hopkins. "I think that Kelly needs a person like me to be able to tell him again what I told him in that ring."
Pavlik was the WBO and WBC middleweight beltholder when Hopkins outpointed him by scores of 118-108, 117-109 and 116-109 at a catch weight of 170 pounds.
Hopkins' victory had come over a man who had twice beaten the same Jermain Taylor who had twice defeated Hopkins. Taylor's second win over Hopkins ended his run of consecutive middleweight defenses at 20 by split decision in July of 2005.
"I gave Kelly Pavlik a lecture after the fight when I could have been jumping on top of the ropes and celebrating. But for me, it was important to use that time to focus on Kelly Pavlik, and it wasn't for show," said Hopkins.
"Michael Jordan has grabbed many players and looked at them and given them the motivation that they've needed after a loss. So that's the least that I can do when you see a potential star somehow hit a roadblock, and that's what I chose to do at that particular time."
Since their meeting, however, Hopkins' career has risen while Pavlik's has been on a downward spiral.
Pavlik had scored two straight knockouts after losing to Hopkins, but then cited a staph infection in his hand for twice pulling out of scheduled match ups with Paul Williams. In April of 2010, Pavlik was dethroned as WBO and WBC middleweight titleholder by Sergio Martinez.
Pavlik cited a rib injury as his reason for pulling out of a scheduled bout with Bryan Vera, which was scheduled for the Manny Pacquiao-Antonio Margarito undercard on Nov. 13.
Later that month, Pavlik entered the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif., for treatment of a drinking problem.
In May, Hopkins dethroned Jean Pascal by unanimous decision, becoming the oldest fighter in the history of the sport to win a significant world title.
"You know, I've been counted out so many times in my career. But just as people have counted me out and I've come back, I know that it's not over for Kelly Pavlik. I just don't want to see this guy throw his talent away because of the way he feels that he's been treated," said Hopkins.
"But I'm telling you right now that Kelly Pavlik is either on the brink of being somebody that could be great, or he could wind up being somebody who falls to the wayside. I would just like the opportunity to re-affirm to him what I said to him in the ring that night."