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But his hands, which have been a constant source of pain, have let him down again.
"He was sparring with Sean Porter in the gym in Youngstown [Ohio] and he hit him on top of the head. He put his head down, and his right hand that he's had problems with in the past -- although this isn't the same injury, this is the big knuckle -- it swelled up and it's the size of a golf ball," his manager, Cameron Dunkin, told Maxboxing.com on Tuesday afternoon.
"He's been using therapy the last few days trying to get it down. He went and saw a doctor and had an MRI taken. They found no break, no fracture, nothing. But they're afraid because he has such huge swelling that it's going to shut off the tendon and blood supply and he can snap that tendon. So they want to get the swelling down. That was yesterday, and today it's not much better, so he's not going to be able to go," Dunkin said.
It's expected that Pavlik will be out approximately 60 days. When he does come back, he could be fighting for the vacant WBC middleweight title if Jermain Taylor decides to abdicate that title instead of facing his mandatory challenger, Winky Wright.
"The way it's playing out, Kelly's No. 3, Winky's No. 1, No. 2 is Felix Sturm and Sturm has made a commitment to fight Maselino Masoe for the WBA title," Dunkin said. "So that means Kelly's No. 2 and Winky's No. 1 and if Lou DiBella [Taylor's promoter] shuts off talks and he's not going to make his mandatory against Wright, then they would strip Taylor, then Wright would go into negotiations with us for the vacant title."
As for the Jan. 21 slot against Zertuche, Dunkin said he will try to get Anthony Thompson to step in for Pavlik. Top Rank might offer that fight to Jose Luis Lopez.