Pavlik to move up in weight

Updated: May 11, 2010, 3:49 PM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

Former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik's days as a 160-pound fighter are done.

Pavlik, who lost a unanimous decision and his title belts to Sergio Martinez on April 17 in Atlantic City, N.J., declined his contractual option for an immediate rematch on Tuesday and will move up to the 168-pound super middleweight division or the 175-pound lightweight heavyweight division.

Co-manager Cameron Dunkin said that he sent a letter Tuesday to Top Rank, Pavlik's promoter, in which "Kelly waived his option for the rematch."

"My take is that Kelly has been struggling to make weight. He made a comment the other day that he wished he had told us this five fights ago," Dunkin said.

As far back as 2007, before a title eliminator against Edison Miranda, Pavlik (36-2, 32 KOs) was struggling to make weight. He did so again before the fight against Martinez, losing about 13 pounds in the two days before the weigh-in after a rigorous training camp in which he got down to 173 pounds.

The decision to abandon the middleweight division was reached Monday when Pavlik, trainer Jack Loew and father and co-manager Mike Pavlik met together in their hometown of Youngstown, Ohio, with Dunkin on the telephone from Las Vegas.

"We sat down and talked," Loew said. "We don't know where we're going. Kelly was 178 pounds yesterday. It's not 178 pounds of fat. It's 178 pounds of muscle. We'll look at what's the most attractive offer and go from there, 168 or 175. I think we'll be comfortable in either weight class.

"It will be nice to train for the fight instead of battling the weight the last couple of weeks of camp. For this last fight, we hit a wall and it was hard to budge," Loew explained. "It was horrible what we had to do to make the weight, sweating it off. It was really hard to get off. We had to get on the treadmill and then get in the sauna. We had to do that repeatedly."

Dunkin said he would soon speak to Top Rank president Todd duBoef about the plan for Pavlik.

"In my own mind, there are several places we could go," Dunkin said. "I don't think he'll have a problem with 168 but he may go to 175. It's wide open. We want to take the best opportunities. We know what we've seen from Kelly, he doesn't have the same snap he had earlier at 160, before [the weight loss] finally drained him. You want a guy to fight at his best weight."

Pavlik rocketed to stardom when he rallied from a knockdown to knock out Jermain Taylor in the seventh round to win the middleweight championship in September 2007.

After outpointing Taylor in an immediate rematch, which was a non-title bout over the 160-pound division limit, Pavlik made a defense against lightly regarded mandatory challenger Gary Lockett, knocking him out in the third round.

Then Pavlik was routed in a unanimous decision loss to Bernard Hopkins in late 2008 in another non-title bout at 170 pounds.

Pavlik returned to middleweight to make two more defenses, dominant knockouts of lesser opponents Marco Antonio Rubio and Miguel Espino, before losing to Martinez.

Although Pavlik, 28, had trouble making 160 pounds for several fights, Loew said it got really bad after the Taylor rematch in early 2008.

"When we got to weigh 166 for the rematch with Jermain, it started where Kelly had to go from working out two times a day to three times a day to maintain his weight," Loew said. "Then when we got to weigh 170 for Bernard, after that it was four times a day. We were training more for the weight than the fight. We have no excuses.

"We were 110 percent ready for Martinez and we really thought the weight would come down easier," Loew said. "We were battling the weight and it cost us. We kept food in him, but not much. There is no reason to go through that anymore."

Dunkin and Loew said Pavlik would probably return in September or October for a tune-up fight before looking for a major bout.

"Nobody can ever take away that he was middleweight champ of the world," Loew said. "He's still healthy, he still has that drive. But not to work out four or five times a day. That caught up to us. He's got to train like regular fighter -- get up, go running and go to the gym to box. Let's concentrate on fighting again, not losing the weight. He'll enjoy it more. It wasn't good what we had to do."

Loew said one of the fights that interests him is Pavlik facing Chad Dawson, one of the top light heavyweights. Dawson, an interim titleholder, is scheduled to face titlist Jean Pascal on Aug. 14.

"I think Chad Dawson and Kelly Pavlik would be a very interesting fight. Chad is a great kid and fighter," Loew said. "I think that would be a great fight for him and Kelly. Maybe we'll be sitting ringside for Pascal-Dawson."

Loew and Dunkin also mentioned fights with super middleweight titlist Lucian Bute or eventual fights with the super middleweights participating in the Super Six World Boxing Classic.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.