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Kelly Pavlik says big-name fighters on undercard ‘could be a trend’

Professional boxing seems focused on building better undercards


Tom Briglia, Top Rank

Kelly Pavlik addresses media at a press conference in New York.

Kelly Pavlik had his streak of three successful middleweight title defenses broken in April with a unanimous-decision loss to Sergio Martinez.

On Nov. 13, he'll see another streak erased.

For the first time since 2007, Pavlik (36-2) will be featured as a non-headliner when he takes on Bryan Vera (17-5, 11 KO) on the undercard of an event promoted by Top Rank at Dallas Cowboys Stadium.

A fight between Manny Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito will headline the event.

Despite the fact Pavlik has become used to fighting last, the 28-year-old former world champion said that big-name fighters, such as himself, might want to start getting used to the idea of occasionally serving as a co-main event.

"This could be the trend," said Pavlik, who has fought his last seven fights as a headliner. "(Nov. 13) is going to be a great card. Some of the top name fighters (in this sport) aren't fighting the other top names. But when you pack a card like this, it's a great thing for boxing.

"It could be something that gets us going again."

Professional boxing as a whole appears to be focused on building more compelling undercards than it typically has in the past.

The star power and talent Pavlik will bring to the Nov. 13 undercard certainly will trump the previous Top Rank event held at Dallas Cowboys Stadium in March.

At that event, which was headlined by Pacquiao and Josh Clottey, the co-main event featured a WBC title fight between David Diaz and Humberto Soto. It proved to be a less-than-compelling fight, ending in an easy decision win for Soto over an opponent who has fought just twice in the last 27 months.

Although Pavlik admitted he'd like to see himself back as a headliner after he reclaims a world title, the opportunity to fight on the same card as Pacquiao in a $1.2 billion facility is not one he's disappointed with.

"For me, I still think it's great exposure as a co-main event," Pavlik said. "There's still going to be 60-to-70,000 in the stands and it's on the pay-per-view. It's going to be a hell of a card. I've got no complaints."

Top Rank isn't the only promotion looking to bolster its undercards.

During the buildup for its July 31 event at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer referred to the undercard, which featured six fighters with a combined record of 155-12-3, as 'sensational.'

It also featured the previously undefeated Daniel Jacobs (20-1), who was fighting in his first world-title fight.

According to Pavlik, the trend of placing some of the sport's most talented fighters on the undercard will lead to better overall events and more interest from the casual fan.

However, it also will require a change in the way many big-name professional boxers have been trained to think — that fighting on the undercard is an insult.

"It's all on the individual," Pavlik said. "You get a lot of guys who have too much pride and they end up hurting themselves. Fighting on the co-main event doesn't mean you're being put down or being degraded. It's just something you have to do."

Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at LVSunFighting

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