NEW YORK – Former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik says there is a “95 percent chance” that his retirement sticks, but cautions that he can’t predict how he’ll feel in the future.
“I guess you can’t guarantee it because I don’t want to be one of those who are hypocrites, but right now, yeah, it’s definitely over,” said the 30-year-old veteran, referring to the sport’s history of brief retirements. “I can’t say that I won’t be sitting on my ass one day and say ‘You know what? I want to fight again.’ But as of right now, there’s a good 95-percent chance that I’m not coming back.”
The Youngstown, Ohio native announced over the weekend that he would be ending his 12-year pro career, finishing with a final record of 40-2 (34 knockouts). Pavlik cited frustration with his career’s stagnation after his fight with THE RING super middleweight champion Andre Ward scheduled for next week was canceled last month due to a Ward shoulder injury.
“It just came down to the fact that there’s no more big fights out there,” said Pavlik. “I was already considering retiring and it was just one of those things that doesn’t have to hover anymore more. I really just don’t feel like doing it, plus with the Andre Ward fight falling out and now there was no guaranteed date for another fight, it kind of upset me a little bit. After 12 and a half years being pro, I think I did my time. I proved my point.”
Pavlik won the middleweight crown in 2007 with a seventh-round knockout of Jermain Taylor, defending it four times before losing a decision to Sergio Martinez in 2010. His only other career loss came in 2008 when he stepped up to the light heavyweight division and lost to Bernard Hopkins. He says he was frustrated by his matchmaking following the Martinez loss.
“I came back, went to California to try and get ready and I had three tune-up fights,” said Pavlik. “I only have two losses in my career, if I went out there and lost to a guy who was 29-5, then I could understand but I lost to two of the greatest of all time. I’m taking fights against Aaron Jaco and Scott Sigmon. Will Rosinsky was a good fighter, but other than that, I just got fed up with this. I’m taking time away from my family.”
Roberto Garcia, who has trained former middleweight champion Pavlik for the past three fights, says he respects his fighter’s decision to call it a career on his own terms.
“I had a beautiful reaction, I talked to him like two weeks ago and he had already told me that,” said Garcia in New York after his younger brother Mikey Garcia defeated Orlando Salido by technical decision on Saturday night to win THE RING/WBO featherweight titles. “I have nothing but respect for him, he knew he had over a million dollar payday against Andre Ward but if he feels that he can’t do it, he doesn’t want to do it for the money.
“And he doesn’t want to fool his fans. He could easily say I’m gonna go out with a million and a half dollars, take the Andre Ward fight and f__k it, go out with the million dollars. But no, he feels that his body is not responding and that his mind’s not there so I respect him 100 percent.”
Garcia was himself a world champion boxer, having won the IBF super featherweight title in 1998. He also retired young at the age of 26 in 2001.
When asked what he would do after boxing, Pavlik said he had a business venture that is “going pretty good,” but says he isn’t turning his back on the sport for good.
“I’m looking to getting into training fighters, maybe open up a gym, not so much a boxing gym but an all around gym,” said Pavlik. “I’ve been involved with boxing since I was nine years old; it’s pretty much the only thing I know. So I’ll be around.”
Photos / Harry How, Al Bello-Getty Images
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.