Former undisputed middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik is expected to walk into the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy, in Oxnard Calif., sometime this week to begin training under the gym’s busy owner, Robert Garcia.
And when Pavlik does, he is unlikely to see another fighter of the same ethnic background.
Nicknamed “The Ghost” for his pale skin by African-American rivals as an amateur, Pavlik has officially split with career-long trainer Jack Loew, and is leaving his native Youngstown, Ohio, sometime this weekend to begin working with Robert Garcia, his father, Mike Pavlik, and Top Rank Inc. CEO, Bob Arum, told RingTV.com recently.
“Hopefully, Kelly understands who I am, and he understands that he’s coming to a place where there’s nothing but Mexicans, and he’s going to have to learn to have the dedication to the way that we train,” said Garcia, who also handles the careers of Mexican-American fighters such as his brother, unbeaten featherweight prospect Mikey Garcia, and RING No. 1-rated lightweight Brandon Rios.
“Kelly Pavlik won’t be around nothing but Mexican people at my gym, but he will be around people who are friends and it will be a family atmosphere. But it’s nothing but Mexicans, so it’s going to be a big change for him. Hopefully he can adjust and hopefully, he likes it and has a good time.”
Pavlik appears to be only the second, American-born caucasian fighter to have been trained with Robert Garcia, according to the trainer, with the other being Michael Finney, a 20-year-old Las Vegas resident.
“Michael is from Alabama. He’s 8-0 with seven knockouts right now,” said Garcia. “Michael was here a few months ago, but he lives in Vegas right now. He’s been in Oxnard for about a month. That fight [on Friday, Jan. 6] was our first fight together.”
Pavlik is leaving behind a troubled local life by vacating his hometown to train. Last month, he was arrested for a DUI in Canfield, Ohio, after having been treated and released from the Betty Ford Center for a drinking problem in January following a two-month stay. Pavlik has refused to link any of his problems with alcohol, including an altercation with his brother in July.