by Paul Magno
The whispers and rumors circulating for the last 18 months or so, and vehemently denied by nearly everyone on Team Pavlik, have turned out to be true.
Kelly Pavlik, former lineal middleweight champion of the world and one of boxing’s hottest properties up until fairly recently, is in rehab for an alcohol addiction at The Betty Ford Center in California and has been undergoing treatment since November 4th. This news, confirmed to Yahoo Sports by Pavlik’s manager, Cameron Dunkin, and Pavlik’s father, Mike, is the first official acknowledgment of Pavlik’s long-rumored bout with addiction and an increasingly high-octane lifestyle.
In 2007-2008, Pavlik was seen by many to be the new face of boxing and a savior for HBO’s sagging ratings and stale product. Combining a blue collar attitude with a brawling, fan-favorite style, he was thought to be a virtual money machine within the industry for years to come.
With edge-of-your-seat battles against Jose Luis Zertuche, Edison Miranda, and then Jermain Taylor (for the lineal middleweight title), “The Ghost” became a legitimate boxing superstar and one of the top 4 or 5 bankable names in the sport.
Pavlik would then be humiliated in a catchweight, 170 lb. blow-out against Bernard Hopkins a little over a year after winning the lineal crown that Hopkins used to own.
The loss, combined with an ever-increasing addiction, led to two years of career stagnation as Pavlik let big money fights with Paul Williams and Sergio Mora pass him by in exchange for a mandatory against Marco Antonio Rubio and a tune-up defense against journeyman, Miguel Espino.
Pavlik would eventually drop his middleweight title in a bloody battle against Sergio Martinez in April of this year, only 10 days after being released from his first attempt at alcohol rehabilitation.
He was to resume his career on the November 13th undercard of Pacquiao-Margarito against Brian Vera, but felt the need to admit himself into rehab just 9 days before the bout.
The Youngstown, Ohio native has been known for his dogged determination in the ring, all the more impressive since father, Mike, revealed that his son had been battling his demons since after the first Taylor fight. Here’s hoping that Pavlik gets his life sorted out and can resume a career that was on the fast track to superstardom before being derailed by the excess of success.