Dmitry Bivol vs. Jean Pascal – Weigh-in results
By Mike Smith: WBA World light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol (14-0, 11 KOs) weighed in at 174.4 pounds for his title defense against former WBC light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal (33-5-1. 20 KOs) for their fight on Saturday night on HBO World Championship Boxing at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Pascal weighed in at 176.6 lbs.
During the face off, Pascal put his face against Bivol and looked him square in his eyes to show that he’s not afraid of him. In the previous meetings between the two fighters, Pascal had looked fearful each time he was placed in front the 27-year-old Bivol. Pascal had the look of a fighter that was already beaten and didn’t want to be there. It’s good that Pascal showed some fire today at the weigh-in. That’s the Pascal that the boxing fans know and admire. Pascal has been around the game long enough to know that anything can happen inside the boxing ring.
Bivol on paper is supposed to be the better fighter of the two, but he might be a product of hype. Pascal is going to show whether Bivol deserves the accolades he’s been getting when he meets him inside the squared circle on Saturday night on HBO.
The televised portion of the HBO card starts at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Super bantamweight prospect Murodjon Akhmadaliev (4-0, 3 KOs) weighed in at 121.2 lbs for his 10 round fight against Issac Zarate (16-3-3, 2 KOs). Zarate, 27, weighed in at 122 lbs. Akhmadaliev, 27, is a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist with loads of talent. The southpaw Akhmadaliev comes from a great amateur background from Uzbekistan. He finished his amateur career with a 300-15 record with 80 knockouts. Akhmadaliev was an outstanding amateur. He showed the type of talent that suggests that he could make it big in the pros. With Akhmadaliev’s long amateur background, he doesn’t need to be brought along slowly the way that a lot of fighters do when starting out.
This is Bivol’s fourth defense of his WBC title that he won last year. Pascal, 36, could prove to be the toughest of Bivol’s opponents he’s faced since he turned pro. It depends on which Pascal we see on Saturday. Pascal looked like his old self during the face off. Bivol needs to beat Pascal as impressively as Sergey Kovalev did in his two victories over the Canadian based fighter. Since a lot of boxing fans are saying that Bivol is now the best fighter in the light heavyweight division, he needs to prove it by defeating guys like Pascal with flying colors. Bivol can’t struggle against this type of opposition if he’s truly the real deal.
“This is the story of my life, to be the underdog,” Pascal said. “I was the underdog when I faced Chad Dawson. At the time he was considered as (one of) the best pound for pound in the world. I was the underdog, and I won the fight. To me, maybe it’s a motivation. I know what to do. I know what I’m capable to do. I have a lot of experience, been there done that. I’m going to do my best to win this fight,” Pascal said.
Pascal was the underdog when he fought Chad Dawson back in August 2010. Pascal pulled off a huge upset in beating Dawson by an 11th round technical decision. At the time, many boxing fans felt that Dawson was the best fighter in the 175 lb weight division. That was before Dawson was beaten by Andre Ward when he made the mistake of dropping down to 168. Pascal’s hand speed and combination punching was too much for Dawson. Pascal will very likely be the faster, more powerful guy of the two when he gets inside the ring with Bivol on Saturday. Bivol has power, and he’s a good combination puncher, but he’s not as fast or as strong as Pascal. Age is just a number. Pascal is more like a fighter in his mid-20s than someone in his mid-30s, and he doesn’t have a lot of mileage on him the way other fighters do. Pascal hasn’t been involved in a lot of wars. When Pascal lost to Hopkins, Sergey Kovalev, Carl Froch and Eleider Alvarez, those weren’t fights in which Pascal was hit a lot. He didn’t take a lot of shots, because of his sound defensive skills and his high ring IQ.
Pascal was supposed to be retiring after his fight against Ahmed Elbiali last year in December, but he looked so good in knocking him out in the 6th round that he choose to continue his career. Pascal did technically retire after the Elbiali fight, but it was impossible for him to stay retired given how great he looked. That fight showed that Pascal hasn’t lost much if any of his physical boxing skills. The only thing that has changed is the division itself. The 175 lb weight class has improved dramatically in the last three years, and that’s made Pascal’s job that much harder to try and stay at the top with those guys. Pascal would have had the same problems eight years ago if he had to contend with the likes of Bivol, Artur Beterbiev, Marcus Browne, Badou Jack and Oleksander Gvozdyk. Those are solid fighters that would have been a nightmare for Pascal to beat years ago. Then there’s also Adonis Stevenson, who is still fighting at a high level at 41-years-old.
Pascal fought at cruiserweight in his last fight against former MMA fighter Steve Bosse in knocking him out in the 8th round last July. That was a similar type of affair as the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Conor McGregor fight in which a guy with no background in boxing tried to compete with a superstar in the sport.
Bivol was supposed to face Joe Smith Jr. originally, but he chose to face another opponent. This gave #9 WBA Pascal the chance to fight for a title in a voluntary defense by Bivol. There are obviously higher ranked contenders in the World Boxing Association’s top 15 rankings, but they’re guys that weren’t going to be easy fights to make. Pascal is easy to negotiate with, considering he’s not afraid to fight anyone in the division.
“Jean Pascal is always ready. He never turns down an opportunity,” promoter Kathy Duva said. “He is a warrior. He’d like to take Dmitry’s title back home to Canada.”
This is a great time for Pascal to be taking the fight with Bivol. Pascal is on a high right now after his wins over Elbiali and Bosse. He realizes that he’s not over-the-hill like some boxing fans thought. Pascal lost to some good fighters in Alvarez and Kovalev, but he was competitive against both. If Pascal fought both of them now, he might beat them. That’s how things can turn around in boxing. A win for Pascal over Bivol would arguably be his biggest victory of his career bar none. As good as Dawson was back in 2010, he wasn’t viewed in the same way that Bivol is right now. Pascal would be at the top of the world with a knockout victory over Bivol. The trick to winning this fight will be for Pascal to push hard in the second half of the contest, for the reason being that Bivol gasses in the last six rounds of his fights. He’s a good six-round fighter, but not a great 12 rounder