When I talked with Kelly Pavlik about writing an article focusing on athletes dealing with adversity, he could have easily dodged the conversation knowing I would have had a million other things to ask him. However, the former champion embraced the idea and gave me very honest and well-thought out answers.
It wasn’t all that long ago that Pavlik shocked the boxing world and pulled himself up nearing a ten-count to storm back and beat Jermaine Taylor. Many years later, Pavlik has found himself trying to get up from a different ten-count, the soap opera that his life was becoming. Pavlik couldn’t sneeze and wipe his nose properly before one of his many critics would verbally insult him.
After the first Taylor victory (he beat him twice), Pavlik couldn’t walk into a bar where people would not be lined up waiting for their chance to buy the new champ a drink. The new champ, by the way, was barely of legal drinking age. Most guys his age have the same trips and frequent the same places, they just don’t take the same criticism for doing any of it.
After a loss to Bernard Hopkins, Pavlik may have turned to the bottle for comfort to ease his mind. Still not 25 years old, the pressure associated with the fame he was garnering might stress any mortal out a bit. After this loss, the bar crowd, some of the die hard fans who rode his coattails, and even people he thought he could trust started yapping about what a big problem Pavlik had, how he was just an alcoholic, or how his best days were behind him.
“You really learn a lot about your friends and family during a period like that”, said Pavlik. “People you thought you could trust, people you thought had your back no matter what, you hear things and are shocked to hear where others got their information, and it isn’t even accurate most of the time.”
Pavlik has faced plenty of adversity included a well-documented trip to rehab, a family squabble with his brother, a bitter separation from longtime trainer Jack Loew, and everybody running their mouth as fast as they could about what the former champions next gaffe would be.
So how does The Ghost deal with these issues?
“Adversity is a tough thing, really tough”, commented Pavlik. “Everyone will have something in their life that they need to deal with, and we all know I have had my share. Getting through the tough times are something you have to find within yourself. I did a lot of soul searching these past couple of years and what matters most to me are my wife and kids, my family, and my friends. For those fans that have stuck by my side, I am truly grateful and hope to make them happy again real soon.”
Pavlik still considers Youngstown home, but is now training under Robert Garcia in California. He has a fight coming up on ESPN in just a couple of weeks against someone who typifies exposing the adversity of someone else when they are down. Scott “Cujo” Sigmon (22-3, 12 KO’s) has drawn the ire of Pavlik with his tireless self-promoting rants on Facebook and to any media outlet that would listen.
“He made this personal, and I wanted this fight really bad. I don’t think he has been in the ring with a fighter of my caliber yet and I am going to show up ready, I really want to shut him up live and in-person. He is going to feel it when I hit him.”
As Pavlik trains for the fight, rumors are already circulating that with a good performance, The Ghost can look forward to a big-time fight in September or October either on HBO or on a Pay-Per-View card. He returned to California a couple of weeks early to start training and to promote himself as a rekindled spirit in a sport that buries itself in adversity.
“I have made some mistakes and I am in a much better place in my life right now. I feel great and I am rededicated to the sport of boxing. I will be making a lot of noise in the near future and I can’t wait to prove my critics wrong again.”