Finally. Finally. Middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik and his #1 challenger, Arthur Abraham, have agreed to fight in the fall, Pavlik promoter Bob Arum told Ring.
If you’re a real boxing fan, odds are excellent that you’ve wanted to see this fight for a year or more. I’ve craved it.These are two of the hardest punchers fighting today; they’re the clear top two men in one of boxing’s most storied divisions; they’re both top-20 pound-for-pound boxers; it’s a tantalizing style match-up; and it’s hard to imagine how it doesn’t end up as a Fight of the Year candidate.
There are some caveats that must be pointed out here, before you (or I) get too excited. Arum sometimes has a tendency to get ahead of himself, and so far Arum’s the only one saying this is the deal. The agreement is only in principle, so someone could pitch a fit during final negotiations and pull out. The fight would likely be in New York, but that has to be settled. And everyone has to wait until October or November, and sit through a likely summer pay-per-view show featuring Pavlik against the less-than-ideal Sergio Mora as well as a later show featuring Abraham against some new tomato can, and both would have to win to make Pavlik-Abraham happen. Still, I always said I could put up with the crap Mora fight if the reward at the other end was Abraham before the close of 2009; that’s probably why Arum’s announcing this now, given the fan backlash against Pavlik-Mora and the possibility that it adds intrigue to the pay-per-view show.
Now, back to celebrating. Yes yes yes yes. This is as good a fight as you can make in the sport, and it’s unlikely to be on pay-per-view — HBO and Showtime are both interested and would put some money behind it, according to Arum. It once appeared that Arum hoped to avoid Abraham indefinitely, and the shot clock was ticking down to near zero on this after Abraham threatened to leave the division because he was having such trouble making weight. But Pavlik and his crew, to their credit, always wanted Abraham. And Arum seems to have come around; he kept using the excuse that the fight wouldn’t sell here, but I always thought he didn’t like his guy’s chances. And he’s absolutely right when he says:
“It’s a good fight, a competitive fight . It doesn’t scare me. It’s a fight we want to win, we hope to win. If we lose, we lose. There’s not a … death sentence in losing. Only in the stupid evolution in this sport did it become a crisis if a guy loses.”
In fact, the only bad move here is NOT making this fight. People are clamoring for it. If it didn’t happen, the Pavlik brand was going to be diminished. Instead, it now looks like Pavlik-Abraham is going to be one of the highlights of 2009.
[UPDATE: Pavlik manager Cameron Dunkin injects a note of caution, via the Youngstown Vindicator: “We’ve been talking,” said Dunkin. “I’ve talked to Mike [Pavlik Sr.] and Kelly and they’re both fine with the fight. But there’s nothing done and it’s a long way from being done.”]