Pavlik retirement a surprise

ESPN's Dan Rafael was working the phones and tapping the keyboard furiously in the hours before the Top Rank card at the Madison Square Garden Theater, breaking the story that ex-middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik was hanging up the gloves, at age 30.

At the Garden, neither Bruce Trampler nor Brad Goodman, Top Rank matchmakers, had heard the news when I asked them about it. Good for Kelly, both said. Trampler said it was likely Pavlik would have signed on for a fight with Canada-based Lucian Bute, after his fight with Andre Ward was scrapped, because Ward hurt his shoulder.

Most folks I talk to seem to think the Youngstown Ohioan, age 30, won't be able to kick the boxing jones, and will glove up again. The thrill of the roar of the crowd, the endorphin and dopamine rush you get when you're standing center ring after besting your fellow man -- it's not replicable, usually. We shall see. He entertained us, gave it his best in every outing, and for that, we thank him, and we wish him well, and that he finds the life of the ex-fighter engaging and fulfilling.