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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The Youngstown champion will make his first title defense June 7.

NEW YORK — They’re similar fighters. Both are big punchers. Both come to fight. Both were overlooked as they climbed the middleweight ranks and both take pride in their blue-collar roots.

The biggest difference? Kelly Pavlik is the champ, and Gary Lockett wants to be the champ.

“Like Pavlik, I worked hard, quietly and with class and dignity to get to the top of the ratings without any screaming or hollering at other fighters,” Lockett said Thursday at a pre-fight press conference in New York City. “We are both working-class lads and I think that is why fans like us so much.”

Pavlik (33-0, 29 KOs), the WBC and WBO champion, will make his first middleweight title defense against Lockett (30-1, 21 KOs), the WBO’s No. 1 contender, June 7 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. It’s the same venue where Pavlik knocked out Jermain Taylor last September to win the belts and electrify the boxing world.

“For me this is a match of opportunity,” said Lockett, a native of Wales who will be fighting in the U.S. for the first time. “I am a darkhorse — no one really knows me in the U.S. — but I have always been a puncher. I go into the ring and knock out fighters.

“Against Pavlik, I will fight fire with fire. Pavlik and I are both big punchers and this fight will not likely go the distance.

Pavlik will likely enter the bout as a heavy favorite, but he promised not to overlook Lockett.

“I will never take a challenger lightly,” said Pavlik. ““I am only focused on Lockett and no one else.

“I will work hard, even harder than I ever have, for this title defense.”

Pavlik is coming off a 12-round unanimous decision over Taylor in February — the fight was a non-title bout — and will begin training for the June bout in mid-April. The fight will be televised by HBO.

“My world title reign is going to be no different than my world title climb — I’m going to keep fighting the best men out there,” said Pavlik, a Youngstown native. “My last two victories over Jermain Taylor proved that I wasn’t just the world middleweight champion, but the best man in the game, pound for pound. I promised the fans I would be an active champion and that I wouldn’t duck anyone, and I intend to live up to that pledge.

“It wasn’t that long ago that I was the No. 1 contender. I know the hunger Lockett has for my title.”

Lockett, 31, has won 14 straight bouts since his lone loss, a 12-round split decision to Yuri Tsarenko at 154 pounds in April of 2002. He avenged the loss a year later, winning a 10-round super middleweight decision.

Like Pavlik, Lockett (nicknamed “The Rocket Man”) is a heavy hitter. Eighteen of his 21 KOs have come in the first three rounds. His trainer, Enzo Calzaghe, is the father of super middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe — another hard puncher.

“Lockett throws a lot of punches and he throws them hard,” said Pavlik. “He likes to keep his hands up high so I have to figure a way to break through that defense.”

“This fight has got all the ingredients for a good old-fashioned punch-up,” added Lockett. “I know I’m going to be a massive underdog because, worldwide, I’m very, very unknown. But I’m a lot tougher than people think. I’ve got a good chin and I can pack a wallop myself.”

Lockett holds the middleweight title from the World Boxing Union — a lightly-regarded sanctioning body — and has successfully defended it twice. He said he respects Pavlik’s talent, but thinks “The Ghost” is beatable.

“Pavlik is among the best pound-for-pound but he’s no Superman,” Lockett said. “He has plenty of flaws and we will put together an effective system to beat him.”

Pavlik, meanwhile, has emerged as one of the biggest names in boxing following his wins over Taylor and his knockout victory over Edison Miranda last May. The Atlantic City site was chosen because of the massive Youngstown contingent that followed him to New Jersey last year.

“Kelly Pavlik showed in his last fight he is on his road to becoming a superstar,” said Bob Arum, chairman of Top Rank. “But now Kelly faces a tough test.”

1,028 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
thats what pavlik likes to do, one things for sure theres gonna be a alot of leather flying in
this one :thumbsup:
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