Kovalev-Pascal: The Brawl in Montreal

Photo by:  HBO

Photo courtesy of HBO



WBO/WBA/IBF light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev, 26-0-1 (23), will travel north on Saturday, March 14 to Montreal, Quebec, Canada to defend his titles against former WBC light heavyweight boss Jean Pascal, 29-2-1 (17).


While the “Krusher” might find the Canadian spring climate a little cooler up in Quebec, the fight fans in attendance that night are sure to be treated to what should be a red-hot, light heavyweight championship battle.


Kovalev is working an undefeated ledger and coming in off a career-defining performance against ageless, future Hall-of-Fame legend Bernard Hopkins last November.


He first polished up his title-wielding resume when he added a world title belt to his list of accomplishments in 2013 when he traveled to England and stopped champion Nathan Cleverly in four rounds to capture the WBO world title strap.


However, to reign supreme among the 175-pounders, Kovalev had to deal with Hopkins. “The Alien” held the WBA and IBF world titles and was considered to be the man at 175 pounds, if one didn’t count WBC boss Adonis Stevenson.


When Kovalev and Hopkins met last year in Atlantic City, NJ, most fans figured the strong, hard-hitting Kovalev had that proverbial “punchers chance” but not much else. Many ringside observers felt the crafty, experienced Hopkins would simply be too slick and awkward for the Kopeysk, Russia-born Kovalev.


Well, Kovalev surprised everybody but himself, come fight night on the Boardwalk last November. Not only did he dominate Hopkins physically, he also showed underrated movement and boxing skills to earn a one-sided, unanimous decision over 12 rounds.


Kovalev has arrived as the champion in the light heavyweight division.


Former champion Pascal is coming into the bout off of three wins and one no-contest in last four fights since losing his WBC title to Bernard Hopkins back in 2011.


Pascal certainly would have been considered the craftier boxer of the two at one time but off of Kovalev’s performance against Hopkins, things might be a little more even in that department.


Pascal does bring a stronger resume in terms of opposition, including the likes of Lucian Bute, Hopkins, Adrian Diaconu, Chad Dawson and Carl Froch. The 32-year old Pascal will need every bit of that big fight experience to survive against an aggressive puncher like Kovalev.


In the end, it is going to be ring movement, a strong measured jab and fast counter combinations that will be the meal ticket for the Haiti-born, Quebec resident if he is to hang with the always-rugged Kovalev.


In speaking to the press before the fight, both fighters clearly knew they were in for a tough outing and had to be at their very best to win. They also both seemed extremely confident of victory.


“Sergey Kovalev is a great champion, a solid champion. He can punch; he has good speed. He is good with his distance; he does everything well. He has good technique and I love to be the underdog. This fight reminds me of ‘Rocky IV’ and I think it’s going to be like a remake of the movie ‘Rocky IV,’ said an always confident Pascal. “You have the North American guy versus the Russian. You’ve got the East versus the West. You’ve got [Ivan] Drago, who killed Apollo Creed in the ring. Sergey Kovalev did the same thing maybe a couple of years ago. [Editor’s note: Roman Simakov, whom Kovalev stopped in round seven of their bout in Dec. of 2011, passed away three days later after falling into a coma.] I am a huge underdog like Rocky was in the movie. The odds I think are about 4-to-1 but in this movie, I’m not going to be Apollo Creed; I’m going to be the black Balboa.”


Kovalev seemed happy and excited to prove to his growing legion of fans that he would continue this year where he left off in 2014. The champion also appeared to have no concerns at all about fighting in the challenger’s backyard.


“I am starting with a very big fight with Jean Pascal. For me, it doesn’t matter where I fight. If I am true champion, I am fighting anyone anywhere. Everybody say before the fight was made that I will win. I never say ‘Never’; this is boxing,” asserted Kovalev. “This isn’t sprinting or bicycling. I never say ‘Never.’ You can go to Big Bear and repeat my preparations but no one can repeat my style. It is my thinking in me that gave me all victories and will give more. It’s true Pascal will be the hugest opponent in my career but I’ve fought tough guys a lot of times with good boxers. I don’t know how he’s the best. I want to see in the ring…whether it’s a knockout or decision, doesn’t matter. I’m getting into the ring to get my next victory. That’s my goal.”


It sounds like it’s bombs away at the Bell Centre and that is excellent news for fight fans.



Weekend update


* WBA “regular” welterweight champion Keith “One Time” Thurman scored an impressive 12-round unanimous decision over former two-division world champion Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. Guerrero showed guts all night but seemed to have trouble with Thurman’s work-rate and speed.


* In the chief support of Thurman-Guerrero, former three-division world champion Adrien “The Problem” Broner scored a one-sided, 12-round, unanimous decision over John Molina Jr. in a junior welterweight clash. Broner simply outworked Molina all night. After the fight, Broner said he would return to the ring on June 20 in his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio.


* Unbeaten IBF flyweight champ Amnat Ruenroeng scored a unanimous decision over previously unbeaten, two-time Olympic gold medalist and Chinese boxing icon Zou Shiming on Saturday at the Cotai Arena at the Venetian Macao Resort in Macau, China.


* Roy Jones Jr. destroyed journeyman Willie Williams in two frames on Friday night in Concord, NC. Jones was looking to stay sharp in advance of a possible title shot against WBO cruiserweight champion Marco Huck.



Questions and comments can be sent to Bill Tibbs at bill.tibbs@ucnlive.com and you can follow him at twitter.com/tibbs_bill.




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