A little more than a year ago, Kelly Pavlik was all but unknown. Prior to a fight against Edison Miranda in Memphis, Tenn., Top Rank promoter Bob Arum went on a memorable tirade against HBO because of what Arum said was HBO's reluctance to air Pavlik's fights.
Now, a year later, Pavlik holds the middleweight belt, has the possibility of fighting for the super middleweight and light heavyweight belts in his hometown and is such a popular figure in his home state of Ohio that his endorsement helped Hillary Clinton win the state's Democratic primary.
He'll make a career-high $2.5 million purse for his bout Saturday in Atlantic City, N.J.'s Boardwalk Hall against Gary Lockett, but he insists money and fame haven't changed him.
Well, except for one thing:
"You haven't heard?" Pavlik asked reporters on a conference call last week. "I've got three Rolls (Royces), three Bentleys and a 7,500 square-foot house with gold bath tubs."
But if Pavlik gets past Lockett, he'll definitely be able to afford those cars and to line his tubs with gold. Pavlik, though, is hardly a changed man, he insists.
He says he's worked as hard for Lockett as he did for his two bouts with Jermain Taylor, the title-winning effort in September and the decision in the non-title bout in the rematch. And he insists he won't be begging Floyd Mayweather Jr. for use of the nickname, "Money," any time soon.
"The simple things in life keep me happy," said Pavlik, who loves to throw darts and play golf when he's not training. "I didn't have anything for 25 years, so what's the difference? I can do without. My main concern is my daughter."
Now, it's on to the mailbag, which I missed last week because I was very ill. I'm feeling much better now and looking forward to answering your questions. My answers are in italics.
Miguel Cotto's body attack is exceptional. He's smarter, he has better ring general (skills), he keeps his cool and he has great punching power. All that combined will be too much for Tony Margarito. Margarito is rough, has a great chin and punching power. But I expect Cotto to use his attributes to their fullest and win this fight.
Newport News, Va.
I believe Cotto wins, too, though it is a very difficult and dangerous fight for him. Margarito's chin is exceptional. But I think Cotto's body attack will be the difference. I don't see a stoppage, so I think Cotto wins a unanimous decision.
What do you think about the officiating job on Hatton vs. Lazcano? I had Hatton up on my scorecard, but that lecture the referee gave Lazcano after Hatton was hurt was unnecessary and the shoe being untied just took what little chance Lazcano had in that fight away.
Howard Foster was awful. If there is a word worse than awful, then that word should be used to describe Foster's performance in the Hatton-Juan Lazcano fight May 24. Lazcano badly hurt Hatton – cleanly – in the 10th round and had him on the verge of going down, if not out. Foster broke the action for nearly 90 seconds, first to warn (really, he argued with him) Lazcano about holding and then to allow Hatton to tie his shoes. It was one of the worst examples of homerism I have ever seen.
How many people want to see a Kelly Pavlik-Joe Calzaghe fight? I believe it would be a great fight between two good champions. Also, do you think Paulie Malignaggi has what it takes to handle Miguel Cotto should they ever meet again?
I think a Pavlik-Calzaghe fight would be one of the most significant of the year. Two unbeaten champions with Pavlik having the opportunity to earn recognition as the champion in three weight classes simultaneously would make it huge. As for a Cotto-Malignaggi fight, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for it. Malignaggi is a 140-pounder with no power. Cotto is a 147-pounder with great power. He delivered a frightful beating to Malignaggi when they first fought and I wouldn't see that changing in a rematch. I'm not sure Malignaggi would want any part of that bout.
Why do some boxers fight so dirty and get away with it? Although I recognize that Ricky Hatton is a great boxer with courage and determination, nevertheless he does it with illegal punches, by holding and at the moment of separation he punches again illegally and gets away with it. Of course, at the end he frustrates his opponent, softens them up and ends up winning. I don't think he is that great and no referee has ever stopped him from doing this besides a few giving him a warning.
I have long felt Hatton held too much to be acceptable. Regulating the tough inside fighting is a referee's most difficult job. He wants to allow the action to flow uninterrupted, but he also has to make certain one guy isn't mauling the other. Hatton has used his physical strength in numerous fights to do this, taking advantage of most referees' reluctance to break up action.
Why is it that Joel Casamayor isn't in your top 10? After he destroyed Michael Katsidis, I don't see a reason as to why he is not there. If he defeats Juan Diaz later this year, will it be as big a win if Diaz didn't lose to Nate Campbell?
He's not in the rankings because he had a horrid performance in November against Jose Armando Santa Cruz and hasn't had a truly significant win in the last couple of years. Katsidis is very unproven. And, of course, much of the luster is off Juan Diaz after his one-sided loss to Nate Campbell.
How do you see David Haye performing as a heavyweight? And what do you think about his comment that the current heavyweights are "fat slobs?" Wladimir Klitschko is a large man, but hardly fat, and he is pretty much accepted as the top guy in the division. Sam Peter is a tad overweight but has carried it fairly well so far. Do you think Haye can put up a fight against Wladimir or Samuel Peter? My bet is that he gets blown out big time when one of these "fat slobs" nails him with a power shot.
Haye is a good fighter with a bit of a questionable chin. I think he'll be among the better heavyweights, but size and his chin will cause him problems against the upper-echelon guys. I think he was just looking for attention with that comment and I wouldn't get too worked up by it.
Why do HBO and Showtime always seem to show good fights on the same night? In April, it was Chad Dawson-Glen Johnson on Showtime and it was Miguel Cotto-Alfonso Gomez and Antonio Margarito-Kermit Cintron on HBO. Why do they want to divide the fan base? On Saturday, they each have a show I'd like to see again.
There is no easy answer, Jason. Sometimes, it's outright stupidity. Other times, it's unavoidable because of available dates. But neither HBO nor Showtime care about boxing fans. All they care about is their ratings.
NEVER AT 168
The Calzaghe-Pavlik fight will never happen at 168 pounds. Plus, I doubt there's enough money to make it. Calzaghe's last fights will be at light heavyweight. I also think Pavlik will have all the trouble he wants with Gary Lockett on Saturday.
There definitely is the money to make the fight, Johnny. And Joe himself said he'd fight at 168 if the fight were right. And a Pavlik fight would be one such bout. Not saying I am convinced it happens, but it's more likely than not.
ICE COLD VIPER
Kevin, you mentioned how charitable and accessible to the media Vernon Forrest is. However, you probably do not realize how cold he is toward his fans. At the Orleans Arena, when he was going to fight Ricardo Mayorga he was by himself, leaving the press conference with nobody around and he would not sign a poster. He flat out said no and kept walking. The next day after he weighed in he was walking out to the casino. I stopped him in a hallway. No other fans, press, or anybody was around. He would not sign anything. He rudely said I can't and kept walking. Another time when he wasn't even actively fighting, he walked by a group of people and completely ignored a group of fans request for pictures and autographs. Does he think his signature is even worth anything? Most hardcore boxing fans only know of him because he has wins over Shane Mosley.
That does not sound like the Vernon Forrest I know, but there are two sides to everyone.
DE LA HOYA-CHAVEZ
I would love to see Oscar De La Hoya forget about Floyd Mayweather and fight Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. instead. What do you think?
De La Hoya may yet fight the younger Chavez before he's through, but not at the expense of a rematch with Mayweather that will make him an additional tens of millions of dollars. A De La Hoya-Chavez Jr. bout may occur sometime next year in De La Hoya's farewell bout. It, too, would be lucrative, but not nearly as much as a bout with Mayweather.