HBO results: Sergey Kovalev dominates Jean Pascal in rematch
Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev dominated Jean Pascal for seven rounds in their rematch Saturday night and the beating forced the Haitian-Canadian challenger’s corner to stop the fight while he was on his stool between the seventh and eighth rounds. With the technical knockout victory, Kovalev successfully defends his unified IBF, WBA and WBO light heavyweight titles for the third time on HBO’s “World Championship Boxing.”
Kovalev began the fight establishing a simple yet effective game plan by way of a robust left jab. He’d poke at Pascal’s body with it and that early work set up shots upstairs, as they came in sneakily under the same motion. One of them landed perfectly on Pascal’s beard in the first and it stunned him into a fall onto the canvas but it was ruled a slip by referee Michael Griffin. The replay, however, revealed that the fall didn’t look like a slip at all, giving the hometown fighter a small break. That said, what Pascal was about to suffer was anything but a favorable circumstance. Kovalev started to mix in his powerful right hand with his jab and whether it was a cross to the chin or a hook around the guard to the side of Pascal’s head, they created the same pulverizing thud that left Pascal ducking low or clinching.
By the second round, Kovalev’s name was being chanted by most of the 9,986 in attendance at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. In the third, Pascal was getting beat considerably but, just like during their first encounter, he started to swing for the fences with counter shots. Some of them found their target on Kovalev’s chin but, unlike their first run-in, they didn’t momentarily hinder Sergey’s aggression nor earn Pascal any momentum. That round ended with the night’s best exchanges of punches from both men but it was the last instance in which Pascal looked good. Pascal started to show some fatigue in the fourth and it didn’t help that he had to use his legs to ward off Kovalev’s attack. The fifth round was kicked off with one of the biggest punches landed in the fight for Kovalev – a right hand to the chin, which sent Pascal into a stumble. He was in survival mode the entire fifth round and Bernard Hopkins, who was guest commentating on the HBO broadcast team, described the fight as torture for Pascal.
With his mouth agape and his nose bloated, Pascal’s newly hired trainer, Freddie Roach, began to question his fighter on whether or not he was OK and threatened to stop the fight. Pascal’s home run swinging counters were now becoming sporadic in the sixth and Kovalev continued to dominate with his jab. After landing a few big right hands with Pascal stuck in a corner, Griffin could’ve easily stopped the fight, since Pascal was not punching back at all. Griffin didn’t and after Kovalev threw his shots and backed away, Pascal thumped his chest, merely asking for more but only continued getting his head snapped back.
The 33-year-old pleaded with Roach before the seventh round to not stop the fight, giving everyone yet another example of his will. Freddie obliged reluctantly but asked Griffin before action resumed to keep an eye on his fighter. The final three minutes for which Pascal begged weren’t taken for granted as Kovalev continued to systematically beat him with jabs and added right hooks to the body. There was no argument from Pascal, 30-4-1 (17), on the stoppage, as Roach told him he will now stop the fight before the eighth. In the end, the rematch was a reminder that Kovalev is a bruising puncher and Pascal has a toughness that can’t be matched, two things already ascertained in the first chronicle.
Kovalev, 29-0-1 (26), was all smiles afterward with every one of his three world titles draped over him in the post-fight interview with HBO’s Max Kellerman. The interview was highlighted with an appearance by WBC light heavyweight titleholder Adonis Stevenson. “I want to unify all four titles. I would like to fight ‘Adonis Chickenson,'” Kovalev said before clucking like a chicken into the microphone. Stevenson screamed at Kovalev, “I am the champ!” while getting held back by his entourage. Kovalev walked away laughing, once Adonis grabbed the mic but not before flipping him off.
In the HBO co-feature, Dmitry Mikhaylenko blanked Karim Mayfield on all but one scorecard, earning himself an easy win by unanimous decision (100-90 twice, 99-91) in this welterweight contest.
Mayfield came out for the first round bell like a bat out of hell. Lunging with lefts and rights that looked to have surprised the Russian into a defensive mode. However, Mayfield letting his hands go was short-lived and he quickly returned to a herky-jerky style that left both fighters and onlookers frustrated. Mikhaylenko, 21-0 (9), did a good job of letting his hands go when he wasn’t held by Mayfield. His work to the body kept Mayfield on the run and some right hands would snap his head backward. Mayfield’s offensive production was almost non-existent and, as a result, all Mikhaylenko had to do to win rounds was keep being more active and on the offensive. Mayfield, 19-3-1 (11), would sometimes play possum with Dmitry, pausing in the middle of the ring and trying to catch the Russian with a timely left hook that shot from the hip. One never landed, however, and the ugly fight was nothing more than a bad appetizer to last year’s leftovers.