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Ealier this month, it was reported that Kelly Pavlik's comeback had been thrown off track when he pulled out of a fight with Daryll Cunningham. Talk of Pavlik's retirement from boxing was rife, and it was hard to see such a talented fighter struggle so much outside of the ring. That is why when Kelly Pavlik pulled out of the fight, many feared that the Youngstown hero's personal problems were back. The damage from Pavlik's withdrawal has been done now, so instead on focusing on that I am going to look at Pavlik's future.

First off Pavlik (37-2  32KOs) is only twenty nine years old. He career isn't over, as some have suggested, and he still has time to pick himself up and get back on track. Whats more, the boxing world isn't bored of Pavlik yet. He is a likable guy and more importantly he does it in the ring. So a Kelly Pavlik comeback is something people would love to see.

Who Can Kelly Pavlik Fight in His Comeback?

His last proposed fight against Darryl Cunningham was a catch-up bout to get Pavlik fit and ready to take on some of the top middleweights. He has stated that a big reason for dropping out was the purse of both this fight and the one he would have taken after it - a match with IBF Super Middleweight Champion Lucian Bute. It is clear Pavlik is only interested in fighting if he is allowed to have a go at the world titles. To make this interesting, let's assume Pavlik has already won a tune-up fight. So, who would he fight next on his comeback?

Lucian Bute is out of the question for Pavlik, because the undefeated Romanian has already made a date with Glen Johnson. Pavlik is going to have to look elsewhere, and chances are he won't fight for a belt straight away. The belts aren't all that important anyway. He can still get an exciting match and get himself back to the top of the rankings. Some possible opponents are:

Sebastian Sylvester (34-4-1  16KOs)
The #4 ranked middleweight lost his IBF title to Daniel Geale on May 7th, so he is looking to get a fight booked in. Pavlik would suit him very well - his name still carries weight and he is not at his best. Sylvester would put up a good fight, and for Pavlik this would be an ideal fit. If he beat Sylvester, and the old Pavlik definitely would have, it would be a good signal to the boxing world that "The Ghost" is back.

Matthew Macklin (28-3  19KOs)
Mack the Knife doesn't have a fight lined up following his June 26th loss to Felix Sturm. It is about time he got one though, and again Pavlik's name would be a credible one to shoot for. After Macklin lost to Sturm all talk centred around a rematch between the pair, but thus far Macklin doesn't seem too keen. His loss to Sturm was highly controversial and there is an argument he should have won, so it is surprising they haven't signed up to meet in the ring again. Sturm's loss could be Pavlik's gain.

Unless Pavlik actually ends up fighting....

Felix Sturm (36-2-1  15KOs)
Maybe Kelly Pavlik would be more interested in shooting for a title straight away, regardless of conditioning. If so, Felix Sturm is waiting for him with the WBA belt spread across his knees. The problem is the talented Sturm is sitting on a hot streak of 11 wins and one draw in his last twelve matches, beating both the above mentioned Sebastian Sylvester and Matthew Macklin. Sturm would be a tough test for anyone and especially so for someone not at their best. I think Pavlik would want to avoid Sturm for a while, despite the temptation of the title.

I would like to see him fight any of these men because I just want to see Pavlik back in the boxing ring. What do you think? Who would be the most likely opponent for a reinvigorated Kelly Pavlik? Or should Kelly Pavlik just retire?

Another Poll:
Who will Tyson Fury Fight on September 17th?

More returns to the ring (or not):
Shannon Briggs to come back and fight Klitschko
David Haye looks set to retire