by Steven J. Canton, March 25, 2010

I received a phone call from Patrick Nelson in early March saying that Kelly Pavlik wanted to train in Florida for his upcoming WBC /WBO middleweight title defense against Sergio Martinez on HBO, April 17, 2010. Kelly, coming off a period of inactivity, was overweight and felt that the heat, coupled with few distractions, would do him good. They wanted to know if they could train at the SJC Boxing Gym in Fort Myers, in private, for about one month. I agreed and was asked to line up some solid left handed sparring partners who could properly prepare him for Martinez. I said that I could get both Hector Camacho Sr. and Jr., and was told that would be perfect. Jack Loew, Kelly’s manager/trainer, would be calling me to make all the arrangements.

Jack called and said that they were all looking forward to coming and that they would be arriving on March 14, 2010, and start training the next day. They would train until April 10, then leave for Atlantic City for the fight. He said that they would be renting a nice condo at the upscale Lexington Country Club, in South Fort Myers. Jack would be arriving with his son John, and Kelly, and looking forward to the warm weather, privacy, hard training, and plenty of golf. He said they would pay us $1000 for the use of the gym, and $1000 per week for each of the sparring partners.

Hector Camacho Jr. was training in Atlanta, Georgia and was also planning on driving to Fort Myers on March 14, so that he would be available for sparring when Kelly “The Ghost” arrived. Camacho Sr. had a fight scheduled in Denmark on March 26, and could come to Fort Myers for the first week of Pavlik’s training and then come back for his final week.

I received another call from Jack Loew saying that the Camachos were too short and that Top Rank (their promoter) wanted them to have taller southpaws for sparring. We talked about Martinez not really using his height and crouching low at times, so Camacho really wouldn’t be that short. Jack said that he would be meeting with Top Rank, in Dallas, while there for the Pacquiao vs. Clottey fight. He would let me know whether to have Camacho Jr. come to camp or not, but that he wouldn’t need Sr. He never did call.

Meanwhile, I had been communicating with the Camachos, in order to keep them informed. Finally, I called Jack Loew and he said that they would have their own sparring partners coming to camp and that they would now be arriving on March 16 and start training on the 17th. He would let me know what flights they would be arriving on and asked a few general questions about the Lexington Country Club, distance to the gym and beach, etc. He never called back.

Finally, I called Jack Loew on the 16th and he said that they would now be arriving on March 17, and everything was set. He would stop by the gym that night, pay for the use of the gym, and start training the next afternoon. When nothing happened and I heard from no one on March 17, I wondered if he and his team actually were ghosts.

I called again on March 18 and Jack said that they had just arrived in Fort Myers and were heading to their Condo and would stop by the gym that evening. At approximately 7:15 PM, the team of Ghosts walked into the gym and they were in excellent spirits. They looked around and said that they liked the “Old School” atmosphere of the gym, they mingled and talked with the amateurs who were training that night, and watched as Freeman Barr was sparring in the ring. They talked about how well they were treated at the Country Club, and about the T shirts, shorts, etc, they were given, while having the royal tour. They said they wanted to train on Friday afternoon around 12:00 noon, and asked if Freeman Barr would be able to switch to a southpaw stance and spar on Saturday afternoon. Freeman said, “No problem,” and was looking forward to it. Jack said they forgot to bring the money for the gym use but would do so tomorrow.

Jack called me around 11:15 AM the next morning and said that they would meet me at the gym about an hour later. I was there to open up for them and they finally arrived around 45 minutes late. They seemed to be enjoying themselves and asked many questions about the area. Kelly had a good workout. Jack, John (Jack’s son), and Kelly looked at the many posters and pictures on the walls of the gym and were surprised to see a couple of pictures of themselves. Jack said that they would bring some great pictures and sign them for the gym, as well. He forgot to bring the money for the gym use, but said that he would either bring it by the gym in the evening when everyone else trained, or Saturday afternoon when they would be sparring.

Jack called me at 10:30 AM Saturday morning and said that he had been up all night on the phone with Top Rank, and Kelly’s father, because Kelly said the ring in the gym was too small to train in. He wanted to have a big ring and Kelly was very temperamental and he didn’t know what to do. He said that they weren’t coming to train, but all his sparring partners would be arriving tomorrow (Sunday). He said he didn’t know what was going to happen; if they were going somewhere else to train, or if they would be back in the gym on Monday…but he would call and let me know. He never called back.

I talked with Bill Sheehan, who owns an amateur gym in town. Bill said that the Pavlik group had been to his gym on Friday evening to look around. He told me that they said the ring was too small at the SJC Gym, but his ring looked fine and they would train there. They wanted a key to the gym and wanted their privacy. They paid $50 for the use of the gym on Saturday, picked up the key, and trained that day. They would pay them the rest of the money for the gym use for the month, on Monday. On Saturday afternoon, they called Bill and said that they were going back to Youngstown, Ohio because they couldn’t get any sparring partners. They said they were leaving on Sunday. Bill asked them the flight information and said that he would send someone to meet them at the airport so that he could get his gym key back.

Once again, they turned into Ghosts. Although Bill had someone at the airport earlier than the scheduled time, there was no sign of the group anywhere. No phone calls were received from Jack Loew. Bill never heard from them again, and never did get his gym key back.

There were many young aspiring boxers who were looking forward to meeting and speaking with Kelly Pavlik, and having their picture taken with him. There was quite a bit of support for him here, for his career and his upcoming title defense. One person even took the time (and expense) of having some excellent pictures printed that he wanted signed and has called every day for him, only to be disappointed.

In the course of a very short time, he has managed to tarnish his reputation, upset people with his lack of consideration and honesty, ignore his financial commitments, accept gifts from the Condo management office and then run out on them, and alienate the many people who admired him and wished him success.

Kelly Pavlik is known as the “Ghost.” By definition, a ghost is “The spirit of a dead person.”

Yes, the Ghost of Kelly Pavlik appeared in Southwest Florida.


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Category: Steve's Corner

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