Chris Mannix's Boxing Blog
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Kelly Pavlik's hometown newspaper, The Youngstown Vindicator, is reporting that a staph infection in Pavlik's right hand has forced a second cancellation of his scheduled middleweight title defense against Paul Williams on Dec. 5.

"He's trying," Pavlik's trainer, Jack Loew, told the  newspaper. "He's been running, he's been trying to train in the gym. He's trying to shadow box with one hand, hit the speed bag with one hand. ... I've been trying to keep it a secret, but it's not going great and I'm not going to fool anybody any longer."

The report was confirmed by Pavlik's promoter Wednesday afternoon. 

"This morning we were advised that Kelly Pavlik's recovery of his left hand has not progressed as projected by Dr. Peter J. Evans, Director of the Cleveland Clinic Upper Extremity Center,"said Todd duBoef, president of Top Tank.  "As a result of this Kelly is unable to close his left hand which prohibits him from being prepared for a December 5 middleweight championship defense against Paul Williams. We at Top Rank are disappointed by this unexpected development in his recovery.  Once Pavlik is cleared medically by Dr. Evans we will pursue all avenues with regards to a future bout."

Those who have seen Pavlik recently know that the condition of his disfigured hand is not a secret. At a press conference announcing the fight in New Jersey earlier this month, the skin around Pavlik's hand was peeling and the scab from where the staff infection first formed on his knuckle looked fresh. As Pavlik talked with a few reporters outside the press conference, he still looked to be favoring the hand and rarely formed a fist with it during the conversation.

As disappointing as the news is for Pavlik -- who has gone from a rising star in the middleweight division in 2007, to a borderline bust in 2009 -- it has to be incredibly disheartening for Williams, who had been pointing toward a win over Pavlik as a chance to establish himself as an elite star in boxing. Though there are no Pavlik-size opponents for Williams to challenge (Shane Mosley is expected to face Andre Berto in January, and none of the junior middleweight or middleweight champions carry the same cache), there is one option for Williams that could exceed even a fight with Pavlik: Showtime's Super Six tournament.

Jermain Taylor's brutal knockout loss to Arthur Abraham last Saturday has led to speculation that Taylor, who is 1-4 in his last five fights with three savage knockout losses, will drop out of the tournament. Williams has never fought at 168 pounds before, but his rangy, 6-foot-1 frame should easily be able to carry the weight, and his name would boost a competitive tournament that's lacking big stars.

There are potential problems: Showtime reps have privately said that Allan Green, Lucian Bute and Librado Andrade are at the top of the list for potential replacements, and Williams own promoter, Dan Goossen, has lobbied for Edison Miranda to be in the mix. But with Pavlik's status up in the air, Williams should move on. And Showtime should go and get him.

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