New middleweight boxing champion Kelly Pavlik did everything he expected to do last week in Atlantic City, N.J.
He knocked out Jermain Taylor to win the WBC and WBO titles. He charmed the national media with his easy-going nature. And he made himself must-see television by putting on one of the best fights of the year.
"Pretty much everything went the way we planned it," Pavlik said Tuesday after a golf outing in his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio, where he was mobbed as if he were a rock star.
All of it went the way he planned, except for one fairly significant detail: Pavlik and his father, Mike Pavlik Sr., left Atlantic City without their paychecks.
Pavlik earned a gross purse of $1.05 million Saturday. After the fight, the New Jersey Athletic Board of Control presented Pavlik with a check for $666,750, which represented his share of the earnings after his managers, trainers and all fees were paid.
Pavlik's father, who along with Cameron Dunkin serves as his co-manager, received $105,000 for his services.
As the co-manager, the elder Pavlik took his check and his son's on Saturday night after the title-winning effort over Taylor.
The Pavliks had checked out of the Bally's Hotel in Atlantic City on Sunday morning and were halfway to Philadelphia for their flight to Pittsburgh when Mike Pavlik was suddenly stricken.
"It's about an hour from Atlantic City to Philadelphia and we were literally halfway there when out of nowhere, it just hit me," Mike Pavlik said. "My heart stopped and I just knew I had made a big mistake."
That mistake was leaving checks totally more than three-quarters of a million dollars on a countertop leaning against the coffee pot in their hotel room. In his excitement to get home, Mike Pavlik forgot to pick up the checks.
"I think I gave that maid probably the best tip she ever got," he said, forcing a laugh. The new champion took the news as he takes pretty much everything else: Calmly and without a lot of excitement.
He rarely gets nervous or upset, even with some of boxing's hardest punchers coming after him, and he didn't seem particularly bothered that the largest payday of his seven-year pro career had been misplaced.
"A check that big, it was going to be pretty difficult for someone to be able to cash it," he said. "I figured that somehow or other, we'd manage to either get it back or get a new one. My Dad might have been a little worried, but I wasn't too upset."
Dunkin reached Top Rank publicist Lee Samuels, who was on a private jet flying to Las Vegas along with Top Rank chairman Bob Arum and president Todd duBoef, via cellular telephone. When Samuels explained the problem, Arum agreed to stop payment on the check and issue another, though it wasn't entirely a new situation to the 75-year-old Hall of Fame promoter.
"I have never had a guy leave it in the room before, so Kelly wins a prize for that, but I've had guys lose them," Arum said. "Julio Cesar Chavez used to go out and party after fights and I can remember a lot of times he'd call me and tell me he couldn't find his check. But at least Kelly got the money he deserved."
The lost check was only part of Pavlik's adventure on his way home. Once the SUV Pavlik was riding in hit the Ohio border, he was met by a phalanx of police cars and fire trucks that gave him an official escort home to Youngstown.
Pavlik's SUV dropped into the middle of that sea of what he estimated were 30 police cars and fire trucks and made a triumphant return home.
"The support I get from the people here has always been great," Kelly Pavlik said. "But this was pretty incredible. It was nice to have those guys there for me and it made the win a little bit more special."
Mike Pavlik would like to tell people that the police were there to help protect him as he carried the large check home.
But he knows he's going to get a bad time from members of Team Pavlik for a long time to come.
"This isn't the last time this is going to come up, I'm pretty certain," Mike Pavlik said.
"We went there like it was just another fight. We did our thing the way we always do, but this one turned out to be a little more memorable in more ways than one."
- Kelly Pavlik
- Atlantic City