Weights: Kovalev 174.6, Pascal 174.3
By Dan Ambrose: IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (28-0-1, 25 KOs) successfully made weight on Friday at the weight-in for his title defense on Saturday night against 33-year-old Jean Pascal (30-3-1, 17 KOs) on HBO Championship Boxing from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada. Kovalev weighed in at 174.6lbs. Pascal came in at 174.3lbs. The fight card starts at 9:45 PM/ET/PT.
This is a rematch of their previous fight last year in March in which Kovalev stopped Pascal in the 8th round. The fight brought in good ratings on HBO, and nice paydays for the two fighters. That’s about the only reason we’re seeing a rematch between the two. Other than the ratings, there’s no real reason for the two fighters to be facing each other again.
The rematch isn’t helped by the fact that Pascal looked really poor in his last fight against Cuban Yunieski Gonzalez last year in July. Pascal was battered and beaten for 10 rounds and appeared to lose the fight in the minds of a lot of boxing fans. However, the judges surprised a lot of people by giving Pascal the decision.
It wasn’t the kind of fight that you wanted to see from Pascal to help attract interest in an otherwise needless rematch between him and Kovalev. Pascal now has unfinished business with Gonzalez that he needs to clear up. However, it’s not likely that fans will ever see Pascal fight Gonzalez again, because Pascal has moved on.
Kovalev is taking the fight with Pascal as kind of a tune-up to get him ready for a bigger fight against Andre Ward later this year. Kovalev wanted to face WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson after this fight, but the negotiations have gone nowhere and the fight is now considered dead in the water, according to Dan Rafael. It’s unknown who Kovalev will fight after he gets past Pascal in a rematch. His promoters at Main Events will hopefully find someone good that Kovalev hasn’t already fought before.
— HBOboxing (@HBOboxing) January 29, 2016
The last thing that Kovalev needs is to get stuck in fighting needless rematches against guys that he’s already knocked out before. If/when Kovalev beats Pascal again on Saturday, hopefully closes the chapter in Kovalev’s fights against Pascal because it no longer makes any sense at all for the two of them to face each other.
Pascal is now trained by Freddie Roach out of the Wildcard Gym in Los Angeles, California. The theme behind this fight is that Roach has improved Pascal, so it’s a different Pascal than the one that was knocked out last time by Kovalev. It’s kind of the same stuff that we’re hearing from WBO 147lb champion Tim Bradley with his new trainer Teddy Atlas. Bradley is supposedly a different fighter now that he’s being trained by Atlas. I don’t buy it, and I doubt that the boxing fans are going to buy it either.
As for Pascal, he’s long in the tooth and he looked like a shot fighter in his controversial win over Gonzalez last July. I can’t see the outcome of this fight being any different than the first. Roach’s ideas for Pascal, namely having him staying on the outside, it going to result in Kovalev winning this fight even easier than he did last time. Pascal lacks the arm length and the jab to fight on the outside against the taller Kovalev.