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Jason Pribila

Bernard and Kelly’s Box-Office Bomb

Hopkins vs. Pavlik, great fight, poor PPV sales
Hopkins vs. Pavlik, great fight, poor PPV sales

By Jason Pribila: To say that the Pay-Per-View numbers were disappointing would be an understatement.

Top Rank’s Bob Arum, chose not to sugar coat the numbers when he spoke to “The Pay-Per-View numbers sucked. It did only about 190,000. It’s very disappointing.”

Of course, both promoters blamed the economy. Taking a look at the undercard would never be taken into consideration. However, that is another story for another time. This article’s sole purpose is for me to finally close the book on “Pavlik vs Hopkins” by listing the top five “winners” and “losers” of “Unstoppable.”


5. Youngstown, Ohio: Although the thousands that traveled to Atlantic City to cheer on their native son did not feel like winners once the opening bell rang, they did prove to be the most passionate boxing fan base on this side of the Atlantic. They were enthusiastic and loud, and they resembled the crowds that one would be more likely to find at a high school basketball game than at a prize fight.

Pavlik may make his return to the Middleweight Division at the Chevy Center in Youngstown, Ohio. Now there’s an idea that would have to be considered a “win-win” for the Youngstown faithful, and their economy.

4. Golden Boy Promotions: Along with Top Rank, Golden Boy Promotions currently has the healthiest stable of boxers in the business today. Many of the fight cards that they co-promote, feature fighters from each stable facing off against each other. Although everyone claims that the competition is friendly; no one could dispute that it had been one-sided in favor of Top Rank.

That was until Bernard Hopkins not only pulled an upset, but did damage to Kelly Pavlik’s legacy and earning potential. With the Golden Boy himself a heavy favorite to do the same to Top Rank’s Manny Pacquiao, it could be a big fourth quarter for GBP.

3. Press Row: It took three rounds or less for those in press row to realize that they were witnessing a performance for the ages. It was also at that time that the “experts’ began to realize that they were going to have to think of a new headline for their fight report. But what made this night truly special was that following the final bell, B-Hop turned them into supporting actors.

HBO cameras are strategically placed over the heads of Press Row, so that the viewers at home could pick out the celebrities at ringside. On this night Bernard brought focus to the dimly lit side of the ring. He wanted to look into the eyes of those that doubted him, and gave everyone sitting behind their laptop a story to tell their grandchildren.

2. Marco Antonio Rubio: Although Rubio’s bout against Enrique Ornelas was contested for the right to become Pavlik’s WBC mandatory challenger; few thought the winner would actually end up across the ring from the “Ghost”. Not only were fans looking forward to potential scraps with Abraham or Calzaghe, but HBO had already passed on Pavlik vs Rubio.

Rubio took care of business, and now it looks like he will be the one to welcome Pavlik back to the Middleweight Division. A bout that once seemed far-fetched, has already been approved; and Rubio will be considered dangerous against a potentially vulnerable Pavlik.

1.Bernard Hopkins: Obviously!


5. Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik: It’s hard, and probably unfair to consider someone that woke up on October 19th as the Undisputed Middleweight Champion, a “loser”. However, after rising from prospect to contender to world champion in less than a year, his first defeat had to feel deflating. Pavlik has been featured in Sports Illustrated and ESPN the Magazine, and he wasn’t even preparing for a fight against Oscar De La Hoya. The “Ghost” will need his 2009, to resemble his 2007 in order to once again capture the casual fans’ attention.

4. Atlantic City, New Jersey: When Arturo Gatti called it a day in July of 2007, his heir apparent as Atlantic City’s unofficial franchise arrived only two months later. Pavlik, like Gatti, has been able to fill the casinos and the Boardwalk no matter who is was in the ring against.

Gatti’s faithful would return whether he won or lost; Atlantic will have to sit and wait to see if the same applies to Pavlik.

3. HBO: Even before the Pay-Per-View numbers were released, HBO took a hit. With their stable of boxers at or near the end of their careers, they needed a marketable fighter like Pavlik to carry them into the Post-Oscar Era. Instead, they have to again try to market a 43-year old that does abysmal numbers, fights in spurts, rails against authority, and one that already accepted his retirement gift… two years ago!

2. Freddie Roach: Coach Freddie has been removed by or parted ways with three recent fighters following defeats: Israel Vazquez, Bernard Hopkins, and Oscar DeLa Hoya. Each time Freddie went on record to express his concerns about his former fighters continuing to fight on without him. He felt Vazquez was fighting his rematch against Marquez too soon; Vazquez won the second and third editions of their classic wars. He pointed out that Bernard walked to the wrong corner four times against Joe Calzaghe; Bernard knew exactly where he was during every moment in the ring against Pavlik. And finally, he is trying to convince anyone who will listen that Oscar can “no longer pull the trigger”. This time, it will be his prized pupil, Manny Pacquiao who will be forced to answer that question.

I am sure that Roach’s feelings are sincere, and his concerns are genuine; however, he may want to keep them between himself and his former fighters.

1. Top Rank, Inc: Again, PPV numbers aside, Top Rank had the three fighters with the biggest upside in boxing in their stable: Miguel Cotto, Kelly Pavlik, and Manny Pacquiao. Cotto lost by knockout, Pavlik lost by a landslide, and now Pacquiao is set to do battle against a man that usually outweighs him by 20lbs. Get the feeling Arum has already reminded Roach that he won’t get paid in the event of a Pacquiao loss?

November 6, 2008

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