For Jake "The Bull" Giuriceo, the time to prove himself as a top contender has arrived.
Giuriceo will get the opportunity against former WBO world title challenger Michael Clark (42-7) July 21 in Columbus. Clark represents a significant rise in competition for Giuriceo, who has out-boxed nearly every opponent on his way to a 16-0-1 record.
There's no doubt Giuriceo is an immensely talented technical fighter. The hang up has been his power, or perceived lack there of. Giuriceo has just three knockouts to his credit. He's fought hard-nosed opponents, but some remain to be convinced "The Bull" has the punch to be a championship-caliber fighter. A win against Clark in any fashion would do a lot in proving his title merits. A knockout win would be out of this world.
In a lot of ways, Giuriceo is considered the next potential Mahoning Valley contender. A victory in Columbus would cement it.
Kelly Pavlik's move to Oxnard, Calif. to train was easily the best decision he's ever made.
Pavlik's Mahoning Valley history is well documented, and like other Youngstown celebrities to fall from grace, now that he's working away from temptation and distraction, he's got a real shot at getting back on track.
Pavlik (39-2) has won twice so far in 2012 and will look for a third win Saturday night against Will Rosinsky (16-1). Following a presumable victory, he's looking for any bigger name to fight in the fall to prove he is indeed back.
Pavlik is stubborn in his ways. He's not going to classify himself as anything his critics want him to - namely a "past-his-prime" fighter or an "alcoholic." He doesn't want help, and who's really to say but him whether he truly needs any in the first place?
Pavlik might be more sinner than saint, but the only person he's ever really harmed other than his opponents is himself. Give him credit - he knows what it takes to be a champion fighter. Any perceived ring rust looks to be more from boredom and lack of enthusiasm in having to face opponents he knows he's going to beat to a pulp. He wants another shot, and in his case specifically, sooner is much better than later.
Pavlik's impatience has hurt him in the past with not knowing how to handle sharp criticism and media scrutiny. But thousands of miles away, he's just another fighter seeking redemption.
He still hears his detractors loud and clear, but in California he's not tripping up over them. He'll be fighting with a chip on his shoulder until he can fully prove himself, and it's a dangerous combination for anyone standing in his way.
If he stays the course, he'll start picking up believers again, and he very well may win another title belt in the process.
E-mail B.J. Lisko at email@example.com