Atlantic City fan favorite looking to boost boxing career

Former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik, who staged his biggest fights at Boardwalk Hall, announced his retirement on today.

"I've been a pro for 13 years and doing this since I was 9," Pavlik told ESPN's Dan Raphael. "I go away for two or three months at a time (to train) and I'm tired of leaving my family. It comes to a point where you just don't want to do that anymore. I put my money away and health and time with my family is more important at this stage, especially with no guaranteed big fight or date."

Pavlik was supposed to fight super-middlweight champion Andre Ward on Jan. 26 in California, but the bout was postponed and then cancelled after Ward suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery.

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The Youngstown, Ohio native is retiring with a 40-2 record that includes 34 knockouts.

His earned his biggest win and suffered his only two losses in Atlantic City.

Pavlik, 30, won the middleweight crown on Sept. 29, 2007 at Boardwalk Hall with a thrilling victory over Jermain Taylor. Pavlik was knocked down and nearly out early in the fight but rebounded to earn a seventh-round TKO victory. 

After beating Taylor in Las Vegas, he fought in Atlantic City three more times. He defended his crown with a third-round TKO over Gary Lockett on June 7, 2008, then suffered his first career loss in a non-title fight via decision to Bernard Hopkins four months later.

On April 17, 2010, Pavlik lost his titles via decision to Sergio Martinez at Boardwalk Hall.

Following that fight, he battled alcohol-related problems that ended with two stints in rehab and two long layoffs. He's won four straight since resuming his career under trainer Robert Garcia, who replaced Pavlik's longtime trainer, Jack Lowe.

"I won the world title, I defended my title, I was champ for three years and I made good money," Pavlik told ESPN. "Why take the chance of medical problems? That's a big part of it. I also don't think the drive is there anymore. I'm moving on to a new chapter in my life."

Win or lose, Pavlik was a tremendous draw in Atlantic City. Whenever he fought there, busloads of fans from Youngstown, Ohio would make the trip to town.

At one point, he was considered the next big fighter who would fill Boardwalk Hall for the first time since the late Arturo Gatti was in his prime.

"Kelly was a terrific draw for Atlantic City," Caesars Entertainment consultant Ken Condon said Saturday in a phone interview. "There were usually several thousand vocal fans from Youngstown that would support him.

"I wish Kelly all the best in his retirement."

PUNCHLINES: Boxing returns to Atlantic City on Feb. 16, when WBC lightweight champ Adrien Broner (25-0, 21 KOs) defends his title against Gavin Rees (37-1-1, 18 KOs) at Boardwalk Hall. Ironically, Lockett is Rees' trainer.

A week later, Somers Point middleweight Patrick Majewski (20-1, 13 KOs) and Middle Township light-heavyweight Chuck Mussachio (18-2-2, 5 KOs) will be in action at Bally's Atlantic City.



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