NEW YORK — Top Rank CEO Bob Arum had what he described as “a very, very good discussion” on Friday during a meeting with former undisputed middleweight titleholder Kelly Pavlik, his father, Mike Pavlik, and his manager, Cameron Dunkin toward resurrecting the fighter’s career.
Arum is in New York promoting Saturday night’s HBO-televised bout featuring THE RING’s No. 4 pound-for-pound WBO/WBC bantamweight titleholder Nonito Donaire (26-1, 18 KOs) defending against WBO junior bantamweight beltholder Omar Narvaez (35-0-2, 19 KOs) of Argentina at Madison Square Garden.
“We had a very, very good discussion. Everybody emerged very satisfied from the discussion, I will say that,” said Arum. “What we discussed, nobody authorized me to talk about. But I will say that it was non-controversial meeting.”
The 29-year-old Pavlik (37-2, 32 KOs) pulled out of a scheduled August fight against southpaw Darryl Cunningham (23-2, 10 KOs) on Showtime, citing his disappointment over the offer he received from Top Rank to face Cunningham and then southpaw IBF super middleweight titleholder Lucian Bute (29-0, 26 KOs) in November.
Pavlik said that he was upset with his reported payments of $50,000 for facing Cunningham, and the $1.35 million minimum he was to get from Top Rank for a meeting Bute.
Pavlik said that he had heard that Denmark’s ex-titleholder Mikkel Kessler had turned down a larger amount for a match up with Bute.
The move by Pavlik forced Showtime to cancel the entire card that was be held in Pavlik’s hometown of Youngstown, Ohio, and it frustrated network executives, Arum and Dunkin.
Pavlik could not be reached after the meeting. But his father, Mike, said before they met that he was “hoping to clear the air and start planning things in a positive motion, which is the main reason that we’re here, you know, to try to patch things up with Top Rank.”
Kelly Pavlik expressed optimism after having already spoken to Dunkin earlier in the day on Friday.
“Earlier today, I had a good one-on-one meeting with Cameron, and I have faith that everything is going to go good with Top Rank too,” said Kelly Pavlik, standing in the lobby of the Affinia Hotel across from Madison Square Garden. “We’re going to talk about, you know, the lack of communication. I want to get back on track and get back in there fighting again. I’m excited to get back. I’m hungry.”
It was believed that Pavlik’s decision may have cast into oblivion the future of a once-bright star who became the undisputed middleweight titleholder when he dethroned previously unbeaten Jermain Taylor by seventh-round knockout in September of 2007.
Pavlik lost his first career bout in October of 2008, when Bernard Hopkins won a unanimous decision at a catch weight of 170 pounds. Hopkins’ win had come over a man who had twice beaten the same Taylor who had twice defeated Hopkins.
In the ring after their fight, Hopkins warned Pavlik, “Don’t let this destroy you,” adding that if Pavlik didn’t rebound “I’m going to come and find you and whoop your ass.”
Since their meeting, however, Pavlik’s career has been up and down.
Pavlik had scored two straight knockouts after the loss to Hopkins before citing a staph infection in one of his fingers for twice pulling out of scheduled bouts opposite Paul Williams that were to be televised on HBO.
In April of 2010, Pavlik was dethroned as WBO and WBC middleweight titleholder by Sergio Martinez.
Later that month, Pavlik entered the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif., for treatment of a drinking problem.
Pavlik returned with May’s 10-round victory over previously unbeaten Alfonso Lopez, a super middleweight debut for Pavlik that was televised on the Showtime pay per view under card of Pacquiao’s unanimous decision over Shane Mosley.
Pavlik said he would like to take a couple of tune up fights before targeting the winner of Bute’s defense opposite Glen Johnson (51-15-2, 35 KOs) on Nov. 5 or else that between WBA super middleweight titleholder Andre Ward (24-0, 13 KOs) and WBC counterpart Carl Froch (28-1, 20 KOs) on Dec. 17.
Bute-Johnson will take place in Quebec City, while Ward will face Froch at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. for the championship of the Super Six World Boxing Classic and THE RING’s vacant 168-pound belt.
“If it’s a possibility, I would like to take on the winner of those. Right now, I think that we have to take certain fights, you know, as set up fights and then figth whoever has the titles. Carl Froch is a big name, and Lucian Bute’s still not out of the question,” said Pavlik.
“There are still a lot of big names out there. But I think that I’d want to get about two more fights in before I take any of those bigger steps. That’s what we’re going to talk about today. I think that everything is going to go well. I think everything is going to be fine.”
Photos by Chris Farina, Top Rank Inc.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]