“With Kelly, it’s his drinking problem that he’s got. So, that’s something that’s different for me, but that’s going to be a challenge for me to just keep him in the gym and to save his life by giving him the good career advice and making his friends around here. So the main challenge is going to be the problem that he has,” said Garcia.
“That’s why they’re bringing him, to keep him away from his hometown, and hopefully, this helps out. We have good people in my gym, and he’s going to make some friends. But he’s going to change his whole attitude. Everything is going to change for him. Friends and everything. His habits. We’re going to stick with him and we’re going to make it.”
In an interview late last month with RingTV.com, Pavlik (37-2, 32 knockouts), who is 29, said that he was ready to take advantage of career changes proposed by his father, Arum, manager Cameron Dunkin and Top Rank Vice President Carl Moretti during an Oct. 21 meeting in New York.
“He’s not a fighter who has taken beatings in fights. Kelly Pavlik is only 29. He’s not a guy who has been knocked out a couple of times already. He’s not one of those fighters that has taken beatings that people can say is done or that he’s got no legs or that he’s got no chin,” said Garcia.
“Kelly Pavlik is a tough person who has never endured a beating where he was knocked out. He lost because he wasn’t ready or because he was going through a bad moment. Hopefully, we can change that by letting him see that we’re healthy and that he doesn’t need to do what he has done. Just that part of it could save him. That could be a winning situation.”
Dunkin, Arum and Moretti had invited the Pavliks to New York, where they were in attendance for an Oct. 22, HBO-televised bout during which Top Rank Inc. fighter Nonito Donaire won a unanimous decision over Omar Narvaez at Madison Square Garden.
Donaire (27-1, 18 KOs) was born in the Philippines, moved to America when he was 11, and is 5-0 ,with four knockouts, since he began being trained by Robert Garcia.
“Nonito is pretty much done with that transition. Nonito’s already a half-Mexican, so we will have fun with Kelly Pavlik. We’re going to have to make him a half-Mexican also. All that he’s going to see is friendship. Everybody will support him. There will be friendly people there,” said Garcia.
“Everybody is excited that he’s coming and everybody’s already heard that he’s coming and that Kelly Pavlik’s on his way to Oxnard. People in my gym are already waiting. They’re already excited. They’re ready to see him become a part of the team. That’s what I want to see. I’ve said, ‘I want you to show him the way that you’ve showed everybody else with Kelly.’”
In an interview on the evening of Oct. 21, Arum told RingTV.com that the gathering with the Pavliks went well, and Dunkin outlined the details designed to resurrect the beleagured Kelly Pavlik to the point where he is on par with mangerial stablemates such as Donaire, Rios, Mikey Garcia and RING No. 8-ranked pound for pound WBO junior welterweight beltholder Tim Bradley.
Pavlik said that he welcomed the change “for several reasons” during an interview with RingTV.com in late October.
“If we bring him back to win another title and make big fights again, you know, that would be huge. But really, this is not just talking about boxing, but it’s more about if we can keep Kelly away from the trouble,” said Garcia.
“We’ve got to keep him away the people who are offering him drinks and drugs or whatever it may be. So I think that here with the friends that he’s going to have and the atmosphere in my gym, that, in itself, if that helps, that might save him.”
Photos by Chris Farina, Top Rank Inc.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org