It’s on. On October 18, the pride of Youngstown, unbeaten Kelly Pavlik, will try to do what no man has done. He will try and prove his mettle, and send a message that he is the top active American fighter, bar none, by being the first man to stop Bernard Hopkins. That is a tall order, even if Hopkins is 43 1/2, and has a 2-3 record in his last five outings. Can the 26 year-old Pavlik, with 30 KOs in his 34 wins, pull it off? TSS is leaning toward saying he can, especially after Ron Borges talked to Freddie Roach last week, and Roach vocalized his concern about Hopkins’ decision to soldier on.
The two fighters and their team-members traveled to NY on Wednesday morning-afternoon, to get tongues wagging about their Oct. 18 showdown, which will unfold in Atlantic City.
No race cards were played (thank God of that) and there were no physical shenanigans either. Hopkins, who has been prone to outlandish acts to hype up his bouts of late, was on his best behavior.
Hopkins (48-5, 32 KOs), who last gloved up against Joe Calzaghe on April 19 (SD12 loss), surprised some folks with his low key comments.
“I’m a boxing fan and I am a fan of Kelly Pavlik,” he said. “I am a fan of Pavlik because he became a champion the right way. Not because of politics, but because he came up through the ranks and beat them all. I know what makes a good fight, but I never thought I would be fighting him. Kelly has a lot of heart and determination, but saying that, I’ve never been afraid of a ghost.
Hopkins isn’t listening to those who are recommending that he step away from the sport before he absorbs a nasty beating.
“I believe I’m coming into this fight as the winner. People know me and boxing people know me and they know I’m a threat against anyone. I am willing to say that I am coming into this fight to win. When we get into the ring – it will just be me and him – and that means it is 50/50.”
“This is a blue collar fight. It’s like two guys working on a pier and get in a fight. It’s two guys fighting with their hard hats on. This is a blue collar sport – the kind of fight that could happen in any inner city – except now I’m from Philly and he’s from Youngstown. Kelly comes in and throws the hammer down and it’s my job to take that away from him.
“Pavlik has fought three times against fighters that I know of – Miranda and (Jermain) Taylor (twice). I don’t know any of the others. But I have nothing bad to say about Kelly Pavlik.”
Well, there is more press to do for the bout, so maybe later in the tour, Hopkins will look to get inside the younger man’s head, with some incendiary talk.
“This fight is about two guys,” Hopkins said. “One guy is coming forward and the other guy is looking to do his thing and that spells action.”
Pavlik’s trainer, Paver Jack Loew, has become known for his ability to traffic skillfully in pre-fight trash talk. He promised his guy would do what Clinton Mitchell, Roy Jones, Jermain Taylor, and Calzaghe had been unable to do in their successful efforts against Hopkins: stop him.
“This is a great opportunity being able to fight a guy like Bernard Hopkins,” Loew said. “This fight will take Kelly to another level. He’s a great fighter, but on October 18 it will come to an end for Bernard Hopkins. It is over for him.”
The humble Pavlik was more chill in his take on the upcoming showdown with the all-time great.
“I want to fight the best,” Pavlik said. “People talk and ask about why I am fighting Bernard Hopkins. You’ve got a legend right here. I don’t know about Calzaghe – I guess I would have to shoot him in the foot to get him to stop running from me. All I can tell you is that I will train as hard as I can to get in the best shape that I can be in for Bernard Hopkins.”
Trainer Nazim Richardson said that Pavlik’s style will be good for his client. “This guy comes to fight and that is good for Bernard Hopkins,” Richardson said. “John David Jackson will be supporting me in this fight. When you look at Bernard Hopkins, you are looking at a legend and you have to respect him for that. He has been through the wars and the fires. He has never been cut and has never been beat up.”
How about it, TSS Universe. Will Hopkin’s glorious run end badly, with a beatdown? Or can he summon all his wily techniques and massive reserve of will, and pull off an upset in AC?
Send comments, now.
Tickets to Pavlik vs. Hopkins, priced at $700, $500, $350, $200, $100 and $75, go on sale Friday, August 8 at noon ET and can be purchased at the Boardwalk Hall box office, by calling Ticketmaster (800) 736-1420 or online at www.Ticketmaster.com.
Promoted by Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions, in association with Caesars Atlantic City, Pavlik vs. Hopkins will take place Saturday, October 18 at Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall. The fight will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View, beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. The fight will be contested at 170 pounds.