Kelly Pavlik thought he needed an impressive outing Saturday in his first fight in 13 months.
To his longtime trainer, Jack Loew, the impressive part was the former world middleweight champion simply returning to the ring after his long layoff and battle with alcoholism.
Pavlik (37-2) wasn’t sharp, failing to put away Alfonso Lopez (21-1), in scoring a majority decision in their 10-round super middleweight bout on the Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley undercard at the MGM Grand Garden.
Pavlik won 99-91 on judge Dick Houck’s scorecard and 98-92 on C.J. Ross’ card. Adalaide Byrd scored the fight 95-95.
“The ring rust was there, but I thought I did pretty good,” Pavlik said. “I don’t know what that judge (Byrd) was watching. I clearly won the fight.”
Pavlik, 29, has aspirations of fighting the likes of Lucien Bute, Andre Ward and Carl Froch, but he hardly looked ready for the cream of the 168-pound crop.
The win was satisfying, nonetheless.
Pavlik, who hadn’t fought since losing his WBC and WBO middleweight titles to Sergio Martinez in April 2010, spent two months at the Betty Ford Center this past winter.
“There were two wins tonight,” Loew said. “The first was walking up the steps and climbing into the ring; the second was winning the fight.”
Lopez threw more punches and landed more. But Pavlik was more effective and landed the better shots.
In the sixth round, for example, Pavlik threw a right hook to the body that hurt Lopez. He landed another right to the body later in the round.
While not especially sharp, Pavlik finished strong, dominating Lopez in the 10th round and rocking him with lefts and rights to the head.
Also on the undercard, Jorge Arce rallied for a 12th-round technical knockout of Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. (20-1-1) to take the WBC super bantamweight title.
Arce (57-6-2) nearly had Vazquez out on his feet in the 11th round. He pummeled Vazquez from the start in the 12th, and referee Joe Cortez stopped the fight 55 seconds into the final round when Vazquez’s corner jumped onto the ring apron.
Vazquez floored Arce just before the end of the fourth with a left hook to the chin, but Arce never stopped fighting.
He led 107-102 on judge Robert Hoyle’s card at the time of the stoppage, while Burt Clements and Garry Merritt had scored it 104-104.