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Kelly Pavlik vows to return to middleweight dominance Saturday

April 15, 2010 |  7:13 pm

He suffered a beatdown by veteran Bernard Hopkins 18 months ago, and then endured a staph infection and follow-up allergic reaction that could have proven fatal.

Kelly Pavlik has said more than once in preparation for Saturday night's fight versus Argentina's Sergio Martinez (HBO, 7 p.m.) that "it was a bad 2009," but he's no longer burdened by the negativity and promises we'll see "The Ghost" of old now.

The world middleweight champion, Pavlik (36-1, 32 KOs) faces a skilled junior-middleweight in Martinez, who fought Paul Williams to a majority decision in December.

"He's awkward, he moves and fires from different angles," Pavlik, 28, said. "But he also gets hit a lot and slows down in the later rounds. He stays in front of people."

Not a good habit against someone with Pavlik's power, who has produced his sharpest camp pre-Hopkins, according to trainer Jack Loew.

"The kid is healthy and wants to get on with his career," Loew said. "He came into camp at 187 pounds of muscle, and after these weeks of training, I know the kid is back."

Loew downplays the Hopkins' loss as a bad night resulting from three missed weeks of training because of an elbow injury and bronchitis on the eve of the bout.

"What I learned from that night is that I should've just canceled the fight; we weren't ready," Loew said. "I didn't take anything more from it than that. We never fired back, we were lethargic, so dead.

"If that's the way we always fight, I'd say, 'Let's go back to the drawing board.' We don't. If everyone else wants to go off the Hopkins fight in planning for us, let them. We have no excuses now, no injuries. We're 120% healthy, and this is the best camp we've ever had."

Loew anticipates stopping Martinez by the ninth round. "We're too big and strong for him," Loew said.

Pavlik agrees and anticipates a better 2010 leading to bouts against Williams or Felix Sturm in the near future.

-- Lance Pugmire