Former WBC, WBO and The Ring Magazine middleweight champion Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik will fight Alfonso Lopez III later this evening at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Pavlik (36-2, 32 KOs), whose only losses as a professional came at the hands of legendary pugilist Bernard Hopkins (51-5-2-1, 32 KOs) and 2010 Fighter of the Year Sergio Martinez (46-2-2, 25 KOs), was officially added to the Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley Showtime PPV undercard in late-March.
“The Ghost” has not fought since losing his middleweight titles via unanimous decision to Martinez last April.
However, this version of Pavlik is not the same one that was bloodied by the dominant Argentinean.
This edition of “The Ghost” is rested, healthy and free of the alcohol that may have stunted his prowess in the squared circle.
Pavlik underwent two major surgeries on his left hand in 2009 to mend a stubborn staph infection that placed his overall health in grave jeopardy.
“I hate to say it, because I like him as a fighter,” said Roger “Pitt” Perron, 74, a longtime respected boxing trainer from Brockton who now works with Mike and Rich Cappiello at their gym, Cappiello Brother’s Boxing and Training.
“But, I think Kelly’s done.”
In mid-January, the Youngstown, Ohio native left the Betty Ford Clinic for treatment for alcohol abuse for the second time.
“It was just to the point where it came to, ‘Hey, it’s got to stop.’ It wasn’t me getting roughed up or shooting somebody or robbing somebody to get alcohol or vice versa. It wasn’t that extreme,” Pavlik, 29, was quoted as saying on espn.com.
“But it came to a point where it was like, ‘Let’s get our head out of our ass and move on here, and let’s get back on track.'”
Pavlik reportedly began to struggle with booze shortly after he demolished Jermain Taylor (28-4-1, 17 KOs) in 2007 and rocketed to superstardom status virtually overnight.
The orthodox scrapper said he has not touched booze since November.
“If I can’t drink anymore, it’s not going to make me unhappy,” Pavlik said.
“I’m not going to be a miserable person because I can’t drink. But as far as what was making me unhappy or what drove me to the bottle, it wasn’t a case of that. It was just the fact that I got caught up in a lifestyle of going out and partying, and needed a kick in the ass before it got too late.”
Provided Pavlik manages to trump Lopez (21-0, 16 KOs) tonight, current IBF super middleweight titlist Lucian Bute has been mentioned as a possible future opponent.
“Kelly is ready, but the guy he’s fighting on May 7 is no pushover,” Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said.
“He has a lot of knockouts, he’s a Texas kid, and that’s a tough chore. We’ll see how he does in that fight, and then we’ll talk it over with the team and see who comes next. The super middleweight division is rich with talent, and Kelly, I hope and believe, fits right in with all of them.”
Kelly Pavlik indeed “is ready.”
Therefore, expect “The Ghost” to make violent noise with a thunderous seventh round knockout a few hours from now.