Kelly Pavlik has more than his World Boxing Council middleweight title at stake today when he takes on Mexico’s Marco Antonio Rubio. Pavlik will be trying to resurrect his image, which suffered a devastating blow when he was dismantled by aging warrior Bernard Hopkins in a non-title light-heavyweight fight in October.
The dominant victory for the graying, 43-year-old Hopkins saw the previously unbeaten 26-year-old Pavlik tumble from the ring’s elite ranks in the eyes of many. Pavlik will be seeking to regain his luster — and retain his WBC and lightly regarded World Boxing Organization middleweight belts when he takes on Rubio.
“We need to make a big, big statement on Saturday night,” admitted Pavlik’s trainer Jack Loew. “We’ve heard a lot of big talk from the Rubio camp. We heard the same thing from Jermain Taylor, Gary Lockett, Edison Miranda and Jose Zertuche and they all met the same fate — knocked out.”
“We expect the best from the No. 1 contender and we are prepared,” he said.
Pavlik brings a record of 34-1 with 30 knockouts to the bout, which will be held in front of a partisan crowd in his hometown of Youngstown.
Rubio, who boasts a record of 43-4-1 with 37 knockouts, is a powerful puncher, but Loew said his straight-ahead style would suit Pavlik.
“I think that anybody that’s willing to stand in front of somebody like Kelly, that can punch like he can, I mean that definitely plays into our hands,” he said.
“I do feel a lot of pressure for this fight,” Pavlik said. “Fighting in my hometown and coming back from a loss. The pressure is within me.”
“I don’t just want to win, I want to make a big impression on Saturday night,” he said.