Williams-Pavlik fight nearly set

NEW YORK – Middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik could begin sparring with his injured left hand in early October, making it possible to defend his titles against dangerous puncher Paul Williams, of Aiken, in December.

Pavlik's manager, Cameron Dunkin, said Thursday that the WBO and WBC titleholder had another checkup for the staph infection on his middle finger that caused their original fight to be postponed from October. Pavlik will remain on antibiotics for another week, then begin exercises before finally sparring with the injured hand around Oct. 10.

"He's good," Dunkin told The Associated Press. "He'll be ready to go."

The fight, scheduled for Atlantic City, was postponed just before a news conference to formally announce it. While there are still issues to be resolved, Williams promoter Dan Goossen said it's likely the fight will happen Dec. 5 at Boardwalk Hall.

"We're working through a few issues and we're in receipt yesterday of his medical report, which said the staph infection is clearing up," Goossen said. "I believe we're going to be able to overcome these other issues."

Williams (37-1, 27 KOs), among the most avoided fighters in the sport, is coming off a dominant victory over former junior middleweight champion Winky Wright. He reached a deal to fight Pavlik (35-1, 31 KOs) after several weeks of contentious negotiations.

Those negotiations likewise made it difficult to come up with an alternative date.

Pavlik promoter Top Rank floated the idea of moving the bout to late November, but Goossen will be busy with Andre Ward, who's expected to fight Mikkel Kessler in the first round of the six-man super middleweight tournament backed by Showtime. Both promoters and television partner HBO then settled on Dec. 5.

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