Kelly Pavlik says he's ready for Bernard 'The Executioner' Hopkins
Middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik has an endearing back story as an unbeaten world champion from the economically distressed town of Youngstown, Ohio. But his real credentials are the 30 knockouts in 34 fights.
Fight fans love heart and power, and as Pavlik showed in dethroning former champion Jermain Taylor in their first bout, he has both.
On Saturday, Pavlik takes on 43-year-old Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins in a fight that should be airing on regular HBO -- not just pay-per-view -- in order to maximize the audience for this rising star.
Hopkins' defensive skills and penchant to make main events "stink," as Pavlik's manager Cameron Dunkin puts it, will be a stiff test at 175 pounds for the 160-pound champ.
In 384 rounds of boxing, Hopkins (48-5-1) has never been knocked out.
"He's a veteran fighter, but we're not going to change anything," Pavlik told The Times during a telephone call today from Atlantic City. "We don't ever go in planning for a knockout. We train hard for eight weeks and want to win every round for 12 rounds, so [Hopkins] can't tell [HBO boxing analyst] Larry Merchant he was robbed again.
"If a knockout happens, though, it'd be awesome. Hopkins is a big-name, dangerous guy, and, yeah, we definitely want one."
Pavlik is fighting at his third different weight limit of the year. He beat Taylor at a rematch-mandated catch weight in February, and knocked down Gary Lockett in a middleweight title defense during the summer.
"I'm dangerous in three weight classes," Pavlik said.
Ideally, he wants to fight the unbeaten, super-middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe next after the Welsh fighter takes on Roy Jones Jr. next month.
-- Lance Pugmire
Photo: Kelly Pavlik, left, middleweight boxing champion, and Bernard Hopkins pose during an Oct. 14 news conference in New York. Credit: Bebeto Matthews / Associated Press