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Kelly Pavlik splitting with trainer Jack Loew?

Former champ Kelly Pavlik has fought only once over the last 18 months. (AP)

NEW YORK -- Is Kelly Pavlik leaving trainer Jack Loew? That was the story rippling through Madison Square Garden on Saturday where Pavlik, 29, was in attendance to watch Nonito Donaire’s bantamweight title defense against Omar Narvaez.

According to ESPN.com, Pavlik, the former lineal middleweight champion who has fought once in the last 18 months, plans to leave Loew and train with Robert Garcia at his gym in Oxnard, Calif. Garcia currently trains, among others, Donaire, Antonio Margarito and Brandon Rios.

However earlier this evening I sat down with Pavlik (37-2, 32 KOs) and asked him point blank if Loew would continue to train him.

“Right now we're staying with Jack,” Pavlik said. “That's guaranteed. There's no reason not to.”

It’s possible Pavlik did not want to publicly announce his decision to leave Loew until he talked to him. Loew was at Foxwoods last night working the corner for Darnell Boone and did not make the trip to New York. When I spoke to Loew, he told me he was ready and able to train Pavlik whenever he was ready. It’s also possible Loew won’t be cut out completely: according to sources familiar with the situation, Loew could continue to work with Pavlik as a co-trainer.

Still, moving out of Youngstown, Ohio, where Pavlik has trained virtually his entire career, is a done deal. Pavlik has battled alcohol problems in the past, which have led to two separate stints in rehab. Many have attributed those problems to living in the suburban Ohio town where he grew up. In a meeting earlier this week, a source said, Top Rank executives explicitly told Pavlik that he needed to train somewhere else. And Pavlik told me he was eager to start working away from the distractions of his hometown.

“I will be heading out of town to train,” Pavlik said. “People say a lot of things about me [in Youngstown]. I don’t need that. After camp I’ll come back and live my life.”

-- Chris Mannix

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