NEW YORK – Kelly Pavlik (36-1. 32KO’s) the WBC/WBO middleweight champion does have his reason to defend the title and get redemption Saturday evening at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City against Sergio Martinez. Sidelined the past year with a staph infection in his right hand, the champion also knows the challenge will be tough.
Martinez. (44-2, 2, 24KO’s) from Madrid Spain, the WBC Super Welterweight Champion, also knows Pavlik is anxious to get back in the ring. Martinez got his opportunity as the number one contender and Pavlik had a mandatory defense.
“It will be two different styles,” commented Martinez Wednesday afternoon at the final press conference at Gallagher’s Steak House in Manhattan. He probably worried more about my speed than my power,” he said through a translator. And when it comes to respect, all of that will be thrown away when Martinez trades punches with Pavlik.
The two fighters have been had their share of issues the past year. Pavlik was dominated by now light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins in October of 2008 and twice had to cancel his title defense against highly touted Paul Wiliams because of his hand issue.
Martinez, (44-2-2, 24KO’s) the native of Argentina achieved success in 2007 knocking out Saul Roman in a WBC super welterweight bout and one year later won the WBC interim super welterweight title with an eighth round stoppage of Alex Bunema, and late last year elevated to WBC world super welterweight champion.
Martinez though still lives with the stigma of losing a controversial non-title middleweight bout last year to former champion Paul Williams that ended a 29-bout unbeaten streak. “ I thank him (Pavlik) for giving me the opportunity, said Martinez, “and I have overcome that loss to Williams. It is an opportunity that I have to overcome the bad decision.”
Pavlik will not dispute criticism that was levied against him when he had to bail out on Williams. He understands that is a part of the boxing game. He, also was not paying much attention to the Hopkins win against Rou Jones Jr, a few weeks ago. “There’s nothing I can do about that,” he said about the criticism that Pavlik may have needed more time against a determined Williams. “I’m still the champion,” he said.
It is a mandatory fight for Pavlik who returns to Boardwalk Hall where he has success. He dethroned champion Jermaine Taylor there nearly two years ago and also handily defeated him in a rematch out in Las Vegas. And the native of Youngstown Ohio anticipates a return to Boardwalk Hall because, a contingent of fans come from Ohio to offer their support.
“I saw Martinez’s fight against Paul Williams and I thought he won it,” commented Pavlik who says the hand is one hundred percent. “It’s great to be back in Atlantic City where I won my world titles.”
e-mail Rich Mancuso: [email protected]