Kelly Pavlik KOs Scott Sigmon

LAS VEGAS -- Former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik continued his comeback with a bloody seventh-round knockout of Scott "Cujo" Sigmon in the main event of ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" at the Hard Rock Resort & Casino.

Pavlik thoroughly dominated the outgunned and smaller Sigmon, whose repeated taunts of Pavlik on Twitter helped him land the super middleweight fight.

Pavlik lashed Sigmon with left hands to the body and a steady diet of right hands while Sigmon mustered virtually no offense. While Pavlik was punching, Sigmon mainly tried to tie Pavlik up.

Pavlik bloodied Sigmon's nose in the second round and it began to bleed profusely in the fifth. Pavlik was battering him while Sigmon was doing more taunting and talking to Pavlik (39-2, 34 KOs) than punching him.

By the sixth round, Sigmon's right eye and nose were bleeding and his white trunks were covered in his own blood. Finally, after the seventh round, referee Jay Nady stopped the fight on the advice of the ringside doctor with Sigmon (22-4, 12 KOs), 25, of Lynchburg, Va., a bloody mess on his stool.

"I wish I could have done a little better," said Pavlik, even though he dominated. "I did what I could do and beat him to a pulp. He took a great punch, a great body shot. I spent a little too much time on the inside thinking that he would get tired. He was in great shape."

Cameron Dunkin, Pavlik's co-manager, was very pleased with Pavlik's performance.

"I loved it. He got rounds, he got work and he won every second of every round," Dunkin said.

"He threw combinations, which I liked. He turned him a lot. I liked that, too. I thought he did very well. He looked great. (Top Rank's) Bob (Arum) and (Top Rank's) Todd (duBoef) were also happy."

Pavlik, 30, of Youngstown, Ohio, ended a 10-month layoff March 31 by scoring a second-round knockout of Aaron Jaco. But the fight was only Pavlik's third since April 2010, when he lost a bloody decision and the middleweight championship to Sergio Martinez.

Pavlik's out-of-the-ring troubles since have been well-chronicled, including a battle with alcohol that landed him in rehab and a DUI arrest.

But after dominating wins against Jaco and Sigmon, the path is clear for Pavlik to another major fight.

"I have 41 fights and I've been in there with the top dogs. It has to be (a big fight next). Next fight we're going to step up," Pavlik said. "I want a big fight, (Lucian) Bute, (titleholder Carl) Froch, that's the kind of fight I want at this stage of my career."

InterBox promoter Jean Bedard came to town to watch Pavlik and to talk to Arum about a possible fall fight against former super middleweight titlist Bute, the Montreal star who lost his title to Froch on May 26 in Froch's hometown of Nottingham, England.

Bute has the option for an immediate rematch with Froch, but Bedard said they are weighing their options and that Pavlik is one of them.

Pavlik has options, too.

"We've got several," Dunkin said. "Todd and I will talk on Monday."

Top Rank and InterBox have put Bute-Pavlik together once before. Pavlik was supposed to fight a tune-up fight in August 2011 with the Bute fight already agreed to for last fall. However, Pavlik pulled out of the tune-up bout only a few days ahead of time because he was unhappy with the deal and also rejected the Bute fight, which would have paid him a minimum purse of $1.35 million (plus an additional $25,000 for training expenses), which could have increased depending on how much money the fight generated.