Ryan Songalia

Sigmon confident of Pavlik upset, even if no one else is

Scott Sigmon has one more day to wait before facing Kelly Pavlik, the former middleweight champion who represents the marquee name unknown fighter has long dreamed of sharing a ring with, in this week’s ESPN2 Friday Night Fights main event from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nev.

Truth is, Sigmon (22-3, 12 knockouts) has been ready for six months.

The 25-year-old native of Lynchburg, Va., first heard he would be facing Pavlik (38-2, 33 KOs) on February 18 in the dressing room of the Armory in Winchester, Va. Sigmon was there getting ready to face Jonathan Reid, a faded journeyman who had at one time challenged William Joppy for a middleweight title. Sigmon stopped Reid – who had come in seven pounds over the contracted weight of 165 pounds – in eight rounds and looked towards the future.

Sigmon liked the fight; for some time the two had discussed the idea of fighting over Facebook. Pavlik, a star on the rebound from confidence-crushing defeats to Bernard Hopkins (in 2008) and Sergio Martinez (in 2010) plus a well-publicized battle with alcoholism, let Sigmon know where he stood in the sport.

“We used to talk frankly about it but he used to make some cruel jokes too,” said Sigmon. “I offered to bring Kelly to Virginia to fight me at one point and he said ‘You have to add some more zeros to that check.’ He’d say maybe one day we would fight and I’m sure he never thought it’d get to this point. I’m sure he still thinks it’s a joke but we’ll give it a few rounds and see if he still thinks it’s a joke.”

Yet while all parties liked the matchup, Sigmon didn’t like the location. A “miscommunication” between Sigmon and Pavlik’s team led to the fight being rescheduled to March 31 in San Antonio, Tex.

“I didn’t want to fight in Texas because the house fighter always wins there,” explained Sigmon of his reasons for pulling out of the fight. Sigmon fought on March 30 instead, winning a unanimous decision over Carlton Holland (whom he had defeated in 2010 as well). The following night, Pavlik destroyed an overmatched Aaron Jaco in two rounds.

This opportunity against the 30-year-old native of Youngstown, Ohio is just what Sigmon had wanted.

“It’s better than facing a guy like Edwin Rodrgiuez or another top name guy like Danny Jacobs. They’re both talented guys but they don’t have the star power that Pavlik has,” said Sigmon. “Whenever it’s a marquee name, it just skyrockets you to the top.”

Sigmon is a do-it-yourself guy

When he isn’t boxing, Sigmon owns and operates his own gym called The Hurt Factory in Lynchburg, where he is a popular local draw on the club show circuit. The turnover rate for memberships is high; 30 members may join the gym just before his fight. Afterward, maybe 2 or 3 stay.

Sigmon is the rare club fighter that doesn’t have to rely on an unrelated side occupation to make ends meet. Boxing is his day and night job.

His involvement in his own career doesn’t end at the gym he trains out of. He also is his own manager as well as trainer. Sigmon learned the basics as an amateur, having a coach who taught him the fundamentals of the sport, but once he turned professional Sigmon didn’t trust anyone’s judgment over his own.

“I am in every aspect of the word self-trained,” said Sigmon, who has his friend Josiah Beasley hold the pads and observe his training. Pavlik on the other hand is in his second fight working with ace trainer Roberto Garcia, who has fostered a reputation as one of the sport’s hottest young trainers.

Sigmon is confident despite the overwhelming opinion of most that his night out in Vegas will end before it starts. Last week, ESPN2 commentator Teddy Atlas voiced his opinion on air that Sigmon wouldn’t be able to provide any competition to Pavlik. The ever-confident Sigmon finds motivation in such dismissals.

“If I don’t get hit with just a jab and get knocked unconscious, I’ll pass everyone’s expectations,” said Sigmon. “I don’t have any pressure on me; Kelly has all the pressure on him.

“I guess I have the element of surprise, no one is thinking too much of me.”

When asked if he felt that he was catching Pavlik at a time when he was “shot”, Sigmon felt Pavlik’s damage wasn’t physical, but mental.

“I think he’s almost as intact as he was when he beat Jermain Taylor (in 2007), only thing he doesn’t have is supreme confidence anymore,” said Sigmon. “But as far as how he was before, he still is very powerful. I’d say he’s one of the top pound-for-pound punchers. He’s shown at times that he can be knocked down but he always weathers the storm so you know Kelly has lots of tools.

“But I feel that I’m a pretty complete package and this fight couldn’t come at a better time for me.”

If you were wondering what Sigmon’s style was like, he’s an aggressive pressure fighter who looks to outwork his opponents. Hopkins and Martinez found success in their bouts by utilizing speed and boxing on the slower Pavlik. If Sigmon’s plan is to work or not, we will find out early.

Sigmon doesn’t talk like an “opponent”, but rather looks to this fight as a stepping stone, however unlikely the outcome is that he is expecting.

Despite losses to forgettable opposition like Chris Fitzpatrick, Jessie Nicklow and Farah Ennis and not having defeated an opponent coming off a victory in his last 15 fights, Sigmon believes he can beat the odds and became an A-lister with one roll of the dice.

“Everybody thinks I’m a broke country boy and that I have no business sense about me but I can make pretty much 70 percent of this money and fight anyone I want to back home,” said Sigmon. “It’s not about the money, it’s about the opportunity to go out there and beat Kelly Pavlik. I don’t want the money, I want this fight.”

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