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Written by Ian Wallwork

Kelly Pavlik is rumoured to be making another comeback under the tutelage of Robert Garcia




The Kelly Pavlik rumours are back. The Ring Magazine has reported that the Youngstown favourite is gearing up for another comeback, with his training to begin sometime this week. How many comebacks is that now? I’ll believe it when I see it.

Don’t get me wrong, I do want to see it. Just the other night I watched Pavlik v Taylor from 2007 and it reminded me why we all loved him. He walked into the ring to fight the king of the middleweight division and blew him away. Pavlik was a worthy contender but until he scored a knockout in the seventh round, Taylor was always the favourite. He was Jermaine Taylor, the guy who had beaten Bernard Hopkins twice.

Taylor should have put Pavlik away in the second round when he had Pavlik so wobbled it was all he could do to hang on. I don’t know why Taylor couldn’t finish him off. Was the killer instinct not there that night? Or did Pavlik just have too much heart? Whatever you think, Pavlik did great to hang on and even better to win. I think it was a few weeks after the fight that Emmanuel Steward, Taylor’s trainer, said they knew they were done in the third round when Pavlik left his corner like nothing had happened.

Things spiralled for Kelly from there, but I don’t want to go into his problems. He left boxing, came back, left again, his most recent attempt aborted when he pulled out of a fight with Darryl Cunningham. And here we are today, faced with a fresh set of rumours of The Ghost’s return.

He has apparently hooked up with trainer Robert Garcia, winner of numerous boxing blog Trainer of the Year awards in 2011. He did good work over the last twelve months, having success with Brandon Rios, Nonito Donaire and Mikey Garcia. He’s also the trainer of the most cherished figure in boxing, Antonio Margarito. He’s got the pedigree, but is he a good match for Kelly Pavlik?

Garcia himself acknowledged that Pavlik will find things tough in his gym. The Ring quoted Garcia saying:

"Hopefully, Kelly understands who I am, and he understands that he's coming to a place where there's nothing but Mexicans, and he's going to have to learn to have the dedication to the way that we train,"

Dedication is exactly what Pavlik needs. He seems to have lost his desire and his last comeback stunk of a guy just needing a payday. Some fighters might be able to fight with an eye on the cash, Mayweather being a brilliant example, but Pavlik isn’t one of them. I don’t think he has the mental make-up to do something he isn’t 100% behind. But he’s not even thirty yet, so there’s still time. My official position on this is sceptical. I’ll believe it when I see the referee raise Pavlik’s arm in victory after his next fight.

There’s one more question; if he does come back, where’s he going? Super middleweight seems like the obvious target, because he’s always had an eye on the division and after a few years of abusing his body Pavlik might struggle to make middleweight. Does he have a place in a division with Ward, Kessler, Froch, Bute, Abraham and Stieglitz? He could beat Abraham and Stieglitz, I’ve no doubt about that. Ward would school him, but Froch and Bute could be there for Pavlik. As long as he wants to be there, and he’s trained for it. With Kelly Pavlik, that’s never a given.

Pavlik is like a broken toy sat on a counter that people look at and think how great it would be if it worked, but nobody tries to, or can, fix it. Eventually someone’s going to have to get it working, or just leave it until it becomes too brittle to be repaired.