Published: Thursday, November 2, 2006
If Pavlik beats Pierre, HBO will come calling
Promoter Bob Arum said Kelly Pavlik will get a title shot next year if he keeps winning.
By JOHN KOVACH
LIBERTY On the eve of perhaps the biggest bout of his professional career, undefeated boxer Kelly Pavlik of Youngstown, a Lowellville High graduate who is promoted by Top Rank, received good and bad news.
First the good news: Pavlik, who will meet Haitian-born Lenord Pierre tonight at 10 at the Chevrolet Centre in a scheduled 12-round super middleweight bout, has been given a definite date to fight on HBO. Promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank announced on Wednesday that Pavlik will fight on HBO on Jan. 27 if Pavlik beats Pierre.
Now the bad news: If Pavlik does beat Pierre, Pavlik's next fight will not be for a world championship that he, trainer Jack Loew and others in his camp had been hoping.
Instead, he would defend his NABF title, and in fact may need still another HBO date after the first one to get a world title shot, said Arum, who has set up a new and more realistic timetable for Pavlik's quest to become a world champion.
Arum, who founded Top Rank in 1966, spoke Wednesday at the Metroplex at the weigh-in sessions for tonight's seven-bout card, after meeting Tuesday with Ross Greenberg, president of HBO Sports, in New York.
The weigh-in sessions
Pavlik (28-0, 25 KOs), the No.2-ranked WBC challenger, weighed in at 1621/2 pounds while Pierre (18-2, 13 KOs), who is trained by Kevin Rooney at his gym in Catskill, N.Y., tipped the scales at 161. Bernie Profato of Niles conducted the weigh-ins for all 14 fighters.
Pavlik , who is 6-foot-2, will have a big height and reach advantage over Pierre (5-foot-8), who immigrated from Haiti when he was 11 and was brought by his father to Rooney's gym.
The fight, in addition to two or three other bouts on the undercard, will be televised by the Versus Network (formerly Outdoor Life Network). Versus is carried by Warner (Channel 66) and Armstrong (as a pay channel) cable systems in the Youngstown area.
Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. The first fight is at 7:30. The Pavlik-Pierre bout is the fourth one on the card and will begin a 10 p.m.
Better timetable now
Arum said Top Rank's new schedule for Pavlik is better than the one they had because it now is being supported by HBO and is a more realistic and concrete timetable.
"This is definite. [Pavlik] will be on HBO Sports," said Arum regarding the deal he struck with HBO and Greenberg Tuesday in New York. "We made our first real breakthrough.
"If [Pavlik] is successful [tonight], he will be on an HBO date on Jan 27 of next year," Arum said. "This is a start. Hopefully, he will get a couple of dates on HBO. But he has to win [tonight]."
Arum said that the Jan. 27 bout will be held at the Anaheim Pond in Anaheim, Calif., but that Pavlik also will have to win that fight and probably one more time in order to get a world title shot.
"I think maybe three more fights [to become a world champ]. If we can get him two HBO fights and then the championship fight," said Arum, noting that the HBO publicity will make Pavlik more famous. "The championship fight becomes more valuable when the public knows the guy fighting for the title."
And when the time comes, "We're shooting to fight the big names like [Ronald "Winky"] Wright and [Jermain] Taylor. At that point, it would be worthwhile for them to take a fight with Pavlik."
Taylor is the WBC and WBO champion while Wright is the No.1 WBC challenger ahead of Pavlik who is No. 2. They both don't want to fight Pavlik because they don't want to risk losing and figure they won't make enough money.
HBO boosts Pavlik's image
"Establishing a relationship with HBO gives us more bargaining power when the time comes" to negotiate title bouts with Wright or Taylor. "We're talking about seven-figure paydays."
He also said HBO "projects [Pavlik] on the national scene, someone who is an HBO fighter. [HBO is] the flagship of boxing. It makes it easier to set up a championship fight."
Arum said Pavlik is climbing to a new level by becoming "an HBO fighter. I'm confident by the middle of next year we will put him against Taylor or White."
"Next year he will become a franchise boxer, a major star who can command major dates and major money. And he will become more marketable for Pay-Per-View and that's where you try to go."
"And if he keeps going the way he is, he will be an emerging superstar and he will revive the sport in Middle America."