On Monday, former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik informed trainer Jack Lowe of his decision to pull out of Saturday's fight against Darryl Cunningham over the money he was offered to face IBF super middleweight titleholder Lucian Bute in a fall bout.
On Tuesday morning, at about 11, Pavlik's promoter, Top Rank, informed Showtime officials of the fighter's move, which forced the network to cancel an entire card that was to take place in Pavlik's hometown of Youngstown, Ohio.
On Tuesday evening, even in the face of worldwide media criticism, the 29-year-old Pavlik defiantly defended his actions to the point of asserting on a MaxBoxing.com radio show that while he remains among the sport's most popular fighters he also is one of its most abused and underpaid by his promoters.
Below are some of the highlights of Pavlik's interview with moderator Alec Kohut, who, like Pavlik, is a Youngstown native.
Pavlik on his notoriety as a fighter: "They can say what they want to say. In my opinion, if I pick my nose at a red light, everybody talks about it. Kelly Pavlik is still one of the biggest names in boxing. It is."
On his belief that Denmark's Mikkel Kessler turned down a larger offer to face Bute than he accepted: "You go and offer Mikkel Kessler $3 million and you turn back around and go and offer me $1 million? Now, I have not known … until a week ago the amount of money that I was getting paid in Youngstown and the amount of money that I was getting paid to fight Bute in Canada.
"If I was fighting Bute in Atlantic City, I would fight him for $1.1 (million). But I've got to (go to Canada) and put the guy on a stretcher to win that fight. So for me to go over there, it's kind of like Top Rank cashing in on me. You know? Like, 'We're going to go and make our money off of him, and we're done with him, and that's it.'"
On why he can afford to turn down Cunningham and Bute: "You know what? I don't need the money. I don't. I've made enough money in my career. I'm smart. I'm not like any other yahoo. I don't go and blow it on jewelry and clothes and cars. I'm living happily ever after right now. I would rather retire before I sell my career short.
"Some of my handlers, where they're getting like $130,000, they're happy with that. They're good, you know? But I look at the big picture and the bigger money and everything else. But I don't need the money where I've got to sell my career and my soul short."
On the succession of payments he's received over his past three fights leading up to Cunningham: "… You paid me $350,000 to fight Miguel Espino at Beeghly Center in Youngstown. … You paid me $1.5 [million] to fight (Marco Antonio) Rubio at the Chevrolet Center. You paid me $3 million just to jump up two weight classes to fight Bernard Hopkins at light heavyweight. And then you turn back around and tell me I’m making $50,000 to fight a southpaw [Cunningham] on five weeks’ notice?
"That’s not going to happen. So everybody thinks right now, ‘Oh, hey, you pulled out because of personal problems, this, that.’ No, I pulled out because I don’t need to fight no more. I will retire. I don’t need to fight. I don't need the money that badly."
On what he would say to disappointed Youngstown fans who perceive $1 million to be a lot of money to turn down: "It's not about fighting for Youngstown. It's about me. It's like anybody who works hard on their job. I mean, my job is to go and get punched in the face and to get paid for a living and to get beat up."
On his marketability compared to Kessler's: "My name is bigger than Mikkel Kessler's, believe it or not. If you go on the internet and you look at every boxing site and everything else, every time Kelly Pavlik's name comes up, it's big. You mean that you're going to tell me right now that you're going to draw 25,000 or 20,000 people in Canada in Montreal and in (Bute's) home town, and you're only going to offer me $1 million?
"And then we had to negotiate to get to $1.35 (million). I mean, come on, you're offering Mikkel Kessler $3 million? My name is better than Mikkel Kessler's. We can argue that. We can take a poll if you want. And if it's not as big, then it's close."
On his perception that he has been underpaid by Top Rank: "I've gotten robbed during a lot of parts of my career, and I'm just tired of doing it. Top Rank can say, 'Ah, well you ain't got the heart to fight no more,' but I do. But make it worth it."
On the straw that broke the camel's back: "I found out about a week ago that they were paying me 50 grand for this fight. OK? I'm sparring with a right-hander who is turning southpaw. Then they tell me what the offer was for Bute. They told me, 'Hey, you’re going to make $1.1 [million].'
"Now, I still have not got a fight contract for this fight coming up. Now I’m a week out and I still haven’t got a fight contract. Now my agent’s going to send me a contract over and he tells me, 'You got 20 hours to turn it back in. If you don’t turn it back in within 20 hours, the fight’s off.'
So my attorney and my accountant don’t have time to look at the contract. And this is what happens all the time in my career. So I’m tired of it. I’m not playing the game no more. It's over, and I don't need to fight no more. … I still don't have a fight contract for this fight that was coming up, which was only a week away. I have nothing. No paper. I have no idea what's going on."
On the perception that issues with alcohol — he was released in January following a two-month stay at the Betty Ford clinic — were a factor in his pulling out of the fights: "Like people say, 'He's out drinking, and he's on the sauce, and he's doing this and he's doing that.' But look, I haven't lost any money. I don't lose money and I don't need to fight no more. Until I get the fights that I want, and I mean the big fights, and they pay me what I'm worth, then I'll take them."
On his abilities as a fighter: "I'm still ready to go. I'm still ready to win a world title. The bottom line is, I want to fight for the money, though. Just show me where it's at. At this point in my career, after all that I've been through, show me where the money's at."
On the notion that Top Rank is trying to "cash out" on his career: "What they’re trying to do is cash out. They’re saving the money. They want to pay me $1.1 (million). The $3 million is there, but that’s what they’re cashing out on. I'm not going to go to Canada and get beat so that Top Rank can cash out on me. I'm not doing that.
"That's stupid. I'm selling myself short by doing that. They're saving their money. They’re going to say, 'You know what? We’re going to pocket $2 million. He’s going to lose the fight, and we’re done with him and that’s it.' That’s how it works."
Where he will be six months from now: "Kelly Pavlik is going to be ready to fight Carl Froch or one of the top guys and then get back to the world title. But I don't want to say under my circumstances, because I have no world title and no ground to stand on. But at the same time, there has to be a middle. We have to meet somewhere.
"And you've got to pay me more money than that you're offering. … Kelly Pavlik is Kelly Pavlik. My name still draws. … You can't tell me that the money's not there and the draw is not there. I will draw people to a fight. So until I'm happy and I get what I deserve, then I'm not happy.
"Top Rank, right now, what they're telling me is that they're going to sit me. We're going to sit you right now and you're not going to fight. Well then, sit me. My contract is up in the air. I'm not hurt. So you really can't put it on me. By no means do I want to sit, but if that's what they're going to do, then that's what they're going to do.
"There is nothing I can do about it. … Hopefully, they won't. Hopefully, the fans want to see me fight. Hopefully Top Rank puts me in a fight. I'll fight whoever for a decent amount of money. … If you're going to put me in a world title fight, then pay me what I deserve.
"… I'm not Money Mayweather. I'm not asking for $20 million for every fight. If Top Rank wants to sit me for a year, then I'll sign with somebody else and I'll come back better than ever. I'm only 29 years old. … But I do have kids. I'm not trying to go out there and get my head beat in for nothing. That's my story."
On his support system: "I've got support from the people that matter to me. My wife and my parents and that's about it."
On the timing of his decision: "That’s Top Rank’s fault and that's my agent, Cameron Dunkin’s, fault. Because if they would’ve told me two weeks ago or three weeks ago the amount of money and what they’re paying me, then I would've said, 'You know what, I’m going to cancel the fight.' But you’re going to let me know a week before?
"Because what they're thinking is, 'We’ll tell him a week before and there’s nothing he’ll do about it. You know, he won’t cancel the fight.' Well bulls–t. I called bulls–t on that. I will cancel the fight."