TSS Q&A with Jean Pascal

Jean Pascal challenges light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev on Saturday, March 14 at the Bell Centre in Montréal, Canada. The bout will be televised live on HBO. Pascal told TSS his fight with Kovalev will be one of the biggest fights in Canadian history.

The Sweet Science: How excited are you to fight in front of your home crowd in Montreal against WBA, WBO and IBF light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev?

Jean Pascal: It’s the biggest fight we can make at light heavyweight because [Adonis Stevenson] is ducking everybody. So I’m really glad to be part of history. This is the biggest fight in Canadian boxing history. I’m part of it for a third time because I fought Bute already, I fought Bernard Hopkins already and now it’s going to be Kovalev so I’m going to make history for the third time in my country for the last four or five years. The reason why is because I’m a man. I’m an athlete of challenge. I love challenges. I’m not one of those champions who are only belt holders. The belt doesn’t define the champion. It’s the champion who defines the belt. And this is why Kovalev and I are going to face each other March 14 in Montreal.

TSS: What’s it like working with Roy Jones Jr.?

JP: To work with Roy Jones Jr. is incredible. It’s a dream come true. I looked up to him when I was a kid, and now he’s been living with me, training with me, giving me advice, so I am very fortunate as an athlete to be able to work with my idol…. Now that I have the chance to work with him, to live with him, to get advice from him? It’s a blessing for me and everyday it’s a day to get better with Roy Jones. Everyday I’m putting in work 110%.

TSS: Why boxing?

JP: Probably because I’m crazy! I don’t know. Back home in Canada, our national sport is hockey so of course I’m a former hockey player and I was quite good. But at 13-years-old, I was too small to play hockey in the big league. I was 5’2” and only 96 pounds, so because of that I followed the footsteps of my big brother, Nicholson. At the time, he was 17 and the Golden Gloves champion. He’s the one that got me in the gym.

TSS: When did you know could become a successful professional fighter?

JP: I knew in my mind that if I work hard, keep my discipline, I would become one day a world champion. I knew the tools were there. But at that level, it’s not all about the tools. It’s having the tools as well as the will to do it. Boxing is not about money for me. There are two kinds of boxers: those that fight for money and those who fight to make history. Me, I’m part of the second [group]. I fight to make history. I’ve been fighting my whole life for my pride and my country. Money is not motivation for me. My biggest motivation is to make history, to become a legend. That’s why I’ve always been in great fights against tough challengers. Like I said, there are some guys who like to hold belts. Holding belts doesn’t make you a champion. It just makes you a belt holder. The belts don’t define the champion. The champion defines the belt. Me? I want to be part of history. The best in boxing history fought the best. To crown yourself the best, you have to face the best. That’s why I’ve faced Carl Froch, Bernard Hopkins twice, a prime Chad Dawson—not the washed up one but the one Floyd [Mayweather] himself called the best pound-for-pound king in the world—I faced Chad Dawson and I beat him. So I know I have the skills, the tools to be one of the best in the world.

TSS: Do you feel supported by Canadian fight fans?

JP: Of course. I’ve broken all the records in Canada. When I fought Bernard Hopkins, we had 16,000 people the first time and almost 18,000 the second. When I fought Bute, we had 20,000 people, so I am well supported by my fans in Quebec and also all the fans around the world. My fight with Kovalev we expect to get 15,000 people in the arena, so I’m very blessed to have the best fans in the sport.

TSS: You mentioned there were two kinds of fighters with titles, those that are just belt holders and those that want to make history. Which type is your opponent, Kovalev?

JP: He’s the second type because he wants to fight the best to prove that he’s the best. He’s not just a belt holder. That’s why he took the fight. That’s why he fought Bernard. That’s why he tried to fight Stevenson. That’s why now he’s facing me. To prove to the world that he’s not just a belt holder, but that he’s the real deal, he’s the real champion and is the one who is going to define those belts.

TSS: Which type is WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson?

JP: To be honest with you, I don’t even want to waste my time with that guy because everybody already knows. That would be a great fight, but unfortunately for the fans when you hear Stevenson, you hear about money, money, money. You never hear him talking about pleasing the fans or making history or facing the best. He wants to be crowned the best by facing cab drivers. That makes no f-king sense. I’m going to leave that guy alone.

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-MCM :

I was in the arena as Kovalev obliterated my favorite fighter, Bernard Hopkins. Now, I'm preaching Kovalev with the enthusiasm of the newly converted. This guy is the real Ivan Drago. "I will break you!" ha. Kovalev is rangier and quicker than he appears. He is determined, strong, he's got good footwork, and he didn't slow down once going 12 rounds with the champ. The only way Pascal can win this fight is by knock-out in the first 5 rounds. Kovalev's chin is still something of a question mark. Pascal has the quickness to land some big blows. It's not an open shut fight because there's a chance of just such a stunning knockout. Especially as Pascal will be able to take a punch or two. Like get out of jail free cards. But once blows accumulate on Pascal's body, he'll run out of cards. Pascal always wilts, but he'll wilt extra quick under Kovalev's heat. If if gets into Rd 6, it's a foregone conclusion. I am irrationally excited about this fight. Wish I could have made it to Montreal! Darn family . . .