Former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik says he is “broken-hearted” that his HBO-headlining bout with unbeaten super middleweight champion Andre Ward has been canceled. The bout, which was originally scheduled for Jan. 26 but was postponed to March 2 due to an injury to Ward’s shoulder, has been nixed outright as Ward opted for surgery.
“It’s kinda hard, due to the fact that I finally got my opportunity after a handful of years,” Pavlik (40-2, 34 knockouts) told RingTV.com.
“It’s kinda depressing but I’m not surprised because it was kinda fishy to me, the fact that his shoulder’s hurt and he’s only taking a month and a half off. I know in boxing when you have a shoulder injury, when you go back into training and go to fight, that you’re not going to be the same. I was expecting it but at the same time it’s just kinda depressing because it was a big fight and that’s what I wanted, especially going against Andre Ward, who is a world-class champion.”
Pavlik won the middleweight title in 2007 with a stirring knockout of the previously-unbeaten Jermain Taylor, making four title defenses. The 30-year-old veteran has worked to rebuild his career following defeats to Bernard Hopkins and Sergio Martinez.
Since the Martinez loss in 2010, Pavlik has won four fights in a row and aligned himself with celebrated young trainer Robert Garcia.
Pavlik’s manager Cameron Dunkin says that his priority now is finding a replacement fight for Pavlik.
“I had a long talk with [Top Rank President] Todd DuBoef, we’re looking for a fight for him,” said Dunkin. “Kelly wants to fight big fights and that’s why he took this one. It’s a hard, hard fight but he wanted it. He wants to fight the best. He told me, ‘Go make the biggest fights for me out there. I don’t want to play around, I don’t want to fight small little fights.’”
Pavlik was scheduled to go to Oxnard, Calif., to train with Robert Garcia on Jan. 3 but had been doing light training in his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio to stay in shape.
Ward, 28, is currently rated no. 2 pound for pound by THE RING, and is also recognized as the lineal champion at 168 pounds. Ward rose to prominence by winning Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic tournament, but fought just once in 2012, stopping Chad Dawson in 10 rounds in September after breaking his left hand against Carl Froch last December.
Pavlik expressed interest in stepping in to face former IBF super middleweight titleholder Lucian Bute, who might have to wait until the fall to exercise his rematch clause with Carl Froch.
“I’ve been pro now for 12 years, I’m no spring chicken in this sport, so give me the fights that are meaningful to the fans and the fights that people want to see,” Pavlik said.
“If you’re a promoter and you get a fighter like Kelly Pavlik – and I’m not tooting my own horn or talking in third person – but if you have a fighter like Kelly Pavlik, you know he’s coming to fight. I have faith in Top Rank and my manager Cameron Dunkin, they got me to where I am today. They’re a great group of guys and let’s just see what happens.”
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to GMA News. He is also a member of The Ring ratings panel and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. An archive of his work can be found at www.ryansongalia.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.