- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik has withdrawn from his Nov. 13 fight, co-manager Cameron Dunkin said Monday.
Dunkin said the reason was a rib injury. When asked if it had anything to do with Pavlik's ongoing alcohol problem, he declined to answer.
Trainer Jack Loew also addressed the issue with ESPN.com, saying, "Since we've been back [in Pavlik's hometown of Youngstown, Ohio, from training camp in Pennsylvania], I have not seen Kelly do anything wrong. ... In camp, I was with him 24 hours a day. Now that we are back, I'm not."
Pavlik was training to face Brian Vera at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, in the co-featured bout on the HBO PPV card headlined by Manny Pacquiao against Antonio Margarito. It was supposed to have been Pavlik's first fight since Sergio Martinez badly cut Pavlik and unanimously outpointed him to win the 160-pound world championship on April 17 in Atlantic City, N.J.
"I don't know exactly what happened, but I was told by Jack Loew that he had a rib injury a few days ago and might not be able to fight, and then he confirmed it to me [Monday] morning," Dunkin said. "I'm heartbroken, I'm devastated, I'm sick to my stomach.
"This was such a great opportunity for Kelly, to be at Cowboys Stadium in front of who knows how many fans in a fun fight on a great show, a great event. I could go on and on."
Dunkin said he was unsure of the time frame for Pavlik's return.
"It's a day-by-day thing," Dunkin said. "I spoke to Kelly. He said he's hurt. We're all sick about it."
When asked if had anything to do with alcohol issues, Dunkin said, "I can't say. I'm not there."
Loew said Pavlik hurt the right side of his ribcage hitting the pads two weeks ago.
"He threw a punch and hurt it when we were doing pads," Loew said. "We didn't say anything. He still sparred (Oct. 23), but we just didn't go to the body. Monday [Oct. 25] we went to New York for the [Tuesday] media lunch and when we came home he said it was too sore."
Loew said Pavlik has not been in the gym since last Wednesday, but visited the doctor and received a cortisone shot.
"He had a cortisone shot put in and it was still not better," Loew said. "Thursday he came into the gym and he was still sore and we decided that was it. I won't put him in there when he's injured. He said he's injured and the doctor said it's very tender and that it was probably the cartilage. I gotta believe the doctor. I do have to believe Kelly's ribs are extremely sore."
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said he had yet to talk to Loew, but assuming Pavlik is not going to fight, he plans to move another of Dunkin's fighters, lightweight contender Brandon Rios, onto the pay-per-view undercard to replace Pavlik. Rios is scheduled to fight Dec. 4 on Top Rank's "In Harm's Way" pay-per-view card in Anaheim, Calif., but that will change if he goes on Nov. 13.
"We've heard the report about the rib injury and we're getting it confirmed," Arum said. "If that's the case, we'll move Brandon onto Nov. 13. If Kelly can't fight, he can't fight, whatever the reason is."
The fight was an important one for Pavlik, who is looking to re-establish himself after the bloody loss to Martinez. The fight against Vera was scheduled to take place at 164 pounds, halfway between the middleweight and super middleweight limits so Pavlik could see if he was comfortable with the idea of moving up or possibly returning to middleweight to try to reclaim the title.
There are two major fight opportunities for Pavlik (36-2, 32 KOs). One of the possibilities is against the winner of the Martinez-Paul Williams rematch, which takes place on Nov. 20, with the other a move up to super middleweight to challenge Montreal star titleholder Lucian Bute. Top Rank has spoken multiple times with Bute's handlers about a possible March fight.
"Kelly realized this was a big fight for him," Loew said, "but he didn't want to go into a fight with a kid like Brian Vera, who will swing for the home run every time, if he wasn't 100 percent. I don't think we wanted to take a shot against anybody and take a chance of losing because of the rib injury and blow anything bigger or better out there. Nobody else is as disappointed as me."
Pavlik won the middleweight championship in September 2007 with a come-from-behind seventh-round knockout of Jermain Taylor.
Pavlik then outpointed Taylor in a nontitle rematch and went on to make three defenses, but also suffered his first loss in a light heavyweight nontitle bout against Bernard Hopkins.
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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