Sports

Boxer Bute's next foe in doubt after more Pavlik drama

Former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik's once promising career took another turn on Tuesday when it was announced that he was pulling out of a fight this coming weekend against Darryl Cunningham.

Former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik's once promising career took another bad turn on Tuesday when it was announced that he was pulling out of a nationally televised fight this coming weekend against Darryl Cunningham.

Pavlik's promoter, Top Rank, confirmed the cancellation of a bout set to take place in the fighter's hometown of Youngstown, Ohio on Saturday.

Todd duBoef, president of Top Rank, said he was "very disappointed at Kelly's sudden decision to discontinue the rebuilding of his boxing career."

The pullout likely will have ramifications for undefeated Montreal super middleweight champion Lucian Bute, who was widely believed to be Pavlik's next opponent in November provided the Cunningham bout went off without a hitch.

After Denmark's Mikkel Kessler opted out of a potential Bute bout later this year in order to pursue another fight, Pavlik was deemed the most likely big name opponent for a projected date at Bell Centre on Nov. 5.

Pavlik, 29, seemed headed for boxing stardom in 2008 after defeating Jermain Tayor in consecutive bouts, but has gone just 4-2 in the ring since then.

He lost a lopsided decision to Bernard Hopkins in a light heavyweight bout later that year, and was cut badly in losing a closer but clear decision to Sergio Martinez in a middleweight title bout in April 2010.

There have been problems outside the ring as well. Pavlik has faced assault charges in the past and underwent treatment late last year at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif., for alcoholism.

Last month, the police in Youngstown were reportedly called to break up a fight between Pavlik and his brother. The fighter downplayed the incident, and denied that alcohol was a factor.

Pavlik was in need of another bout before even considering a challenge for Bute's International Boxing Federation belt after showing considerable signs of ring rust in a May victory over Alfonso Lopez .

Pavlik was reportedly unhappy with the contracted purse for a Bute bout, but a decision to forego a nationally televised bout in the U.S. on Showtime against Cunningham will only hurt his reputation with boxing's power brokers.

Bute (29-0, 24 knockouts) is coming off a fourth round KO win in July in his birthplace, Romania, over IBF mandatory challenger Jean-Paul Mendy of France.

The 168-pound titleholder is widely heralded as one of boxing's most exciting fighters but has had trouble finding top flight competition due to the fact that several of the division's top fighters were obligated to Showtime's Super Six tournament, which has lasted two years.

That tournament will come to an end in October when unbeaten Oakland champ Andre Ward and Briton Carl Froch battle in the final.

Calls to Bute's promoter to determine a contingency plan beyond Pavlik have not yet been returned.

IBF-rated fighters like Peter Quillin and Donovan George would be decent competition for Bute, but aren't nearly as marquee as Pavlik.

Former champion Glen Johnson is well known and has sparred with Bute in the past, but is also nearly 43 years old and a loser in three of his last five bouts.

With files from The Associated Press