Now that everyone has had a day to settle down, we can begin to dissect Kelly Pavlik’s decision to pull out of Saturday’s scheduled 10 round super middleweight fight against Darryl Cunningham in his hometown of Youngstown, Oh.
Although no official reason was given in a statement released by Top Rank, Pavlik told a Youngstown TV station “I’m not going to fight a southpaw for peanuts”. Pavlik was reportedly set to make just $50,000 for the Cunningham fight and $1.3 million for a November fight against Lucian Bute.
Fighters pull out of bouts all the time. And yes, sometimes they even pull out the week or even the day before the fight. But Pavlik’s situation is a bit different. Forget about the fact that he had been battling alcohol addiction and recently finished a two-month stint at the Betty Ford Clinic.
Pavlik was set to fight in his hometown. Boxers don’t often get the opportunity to fight in nationally televised bouts in their hometown. The Pavlik-Cunningham bout was going to be aired live from Youngstown on Showtime’s Showbox: The Next Generation. Pavlik last fought on the Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley undercard, earning a majority-decision victory against Alfonso Lopez.
Considering what Pavlik has been through since beating Jermain Taylor for the second time in February, 2008, what more does he want? He was dominated by Bernard Hopkins eight months later, pulled out of a fight with Paul Williams and lost his WBC and WBO middleweight titles to Sergio Martinez in a one-sided affair in 2010. He hasn’t beaten a quality fighter since his second win over Taylor.
You’d think a fighter in Pavlik’s position wouldn’t be choosy. But Pavlik thinks he is worth much more than Top Rank was going to pay him. To be fair, $50,000 is not a lot for a fighter with the track record of Pavlik’s. But Shobox cards don’t generally pay a king’s ransom.
Pavlik is the only fighter to leave money on the table. Tim Bradley left a $1.4 million offer on the table when he turned down the chance to fight Amir Khan. Bradley was also set to receive 50 percent of the British TV rights. It’s worth noting that Bradley’s decision had more to do with his rocky relationship with his promoter Gary Shaw than money.
Either way you have to question the mindset of boxers who leave millions of dollars on the table, even if the reason appears to make sense. Pavlik pulling out of a fight four days prior and then calling off a later fight against one of the top fighters in the division (Bute) certainly won’t make anyone be anxious to plan a future bout with him.
Pavlik reportedly said in a radio interview that he didn’t learn of the $50,000 purse until a week before. Even if that was the case, he has to know that Shobox cards don’t pay as much.