20/20 Hindsight: Pavlik Back in Form But Not on Top, Plus Thoughts on Top Rank's New Series and More

Kelly Pavlik's first quote in the AP's coverage of his fifth-round knockout of Miguel Espino was short and to the point: "I'm definitely back."

Is he though? Certainly he's back in the ring after a long layoff, and he's good enough to dispose of a guy he really should have disposed of with little trouble.

But that's not the same thing as really being back, at least not to the point where his career started to stall. It's hard to say exactly where things started to go wrong, but there's no question that Pavlik was pretty much on top of the boxing world before he took the fight with Bernard Hopkins.

Since getting trounced by B-Hop, he's been sick and fought sparingly - and in fights no one outside of Ohio could work up much enthusiasm about seeing. To return to his previous status as a blossoming crossover star, there's more work to do.

I've written a bit of what I think he needs elsewhere, but it's abundantly clear that he needs a big fight. You know, the kind that isn't on Top Rank pay-per-view.

Pavlik and Bob Arum told The Ring's Dougie Fischer that Paul Williams is still on their radar, but whether The Punisher will be as psyched up about that possibility after the contentious dance those parties went through this year is anyone's guess. Even if that fight gets made, Williams doesn't have the kind of name that will tickle the imagination of the general public. And it's a fight that Pavlik could lose.

The middleweight division is pretty much devoid of intriguing match-ups, so someone smarter than me is going to have to figure out what to do next. Team Pavlik's decision-making has been spotty, but I hope they get Kelly back on track for real, because the more stars boxing has, the better.

Other random weekend thoughts in...


I was happy to read Dan Rafael's piece on Top Rank's new boxing series, which will be carried on Fox Sports Net roughly three times a month. It looks like the show will feature a good mix of up-and-comers (Mike Jones!) and established guys (Joshua Clottey and Kendall Holt)...

So is the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao bout a done deal for Las Vegas' MGM Grand or not? Reports were circulating over the weekend that the venue was set, but no major media organization has confirmed it yet. Smart money said that was always the leading candidate, but it seems so boring to have it there was the possibility of a true spectacle at a location like Cowboys Stadium or the Georgia Dome...

Could someone please get Edwin Valero's fights on American TV, stream them live on the internet or something? His win on Saturday took him to 26-0 with 26 KOs, and though there are continuing obstacles to having him fight in the U.S., there's no good reason in this day and age for him to remain a mostly unseen legend with the technology that's available.

Posted by The Franchise

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