Sergey Kovalev (26-0-1, 23 KOs) vs. Pascal (29-2-1, 17 KOs)
In the HBO light heavyweight main event, Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev went into Jean Pascal’s Montreal backyard and scored an 8th round TKO over a very game and valiant challenger.
Kovalev (26-0-1, 23 KOs) had Pascal (29-2-1, 17 KOs) all but knocked out in the 3rd round when the bell saved him. Almost miraculously, Pascal survived the 4th round and came back and hurt Kovalev in both the 5th and the 6th.
Stamina became an issue for the Canadian soon after and as his activity decreased, Kovalev took advantage. The Russian pressed his advantage in the 7th, landing at a high rate while Pascal was missing or simply not throwing. At the end of the round, Pascal staggered to his corner while Kovalev moved with sure feet to his.
In the final round, Kovlaev was battering Pascal all around the ring when a vicious succession of punches sent Pascal stumbling into the corner with his head thrown back. Pascal would have done well to go down or at least take a knee, but he caught a brief reprieve when Kovalev lost his footing going in for the knockout and fell onto his back.
Once Kovalev got up, he met Pascal back in the same corner where Pascal was left flagging. Two more right hands by Kovalev and referee Luis Pabon had seen enough and halted the fight.
All three judges held a 68-64 advantage for Kovalev through seven rounds. The final punch stats found Kovalev outlanding Pascal by a 122-68 margin.
On to the rounds!
Round One: Kovalev lands a straight right to Pascal’s midsection. Pascal moving away quite a bit. Kovalev, unsurprisingly, is coming forward. Kovalev forces Pascal up against the ropes. This could get rough. Pascal moves forward, but is wild. The hometown crowd cheers loudly, but Pascal lands nothing of interest. More wrestling going on than fighting, but Kovalev landed the few shots of significance.
Round Two: Straight right to the jaw of Pascal. Pascal lands a left hook, but not flush. Big right by Kovalev briefly wavers Pascal. Kovalev looks very confident now. Good jab by Kovalev to the cheek. Kovalev is clearly the more technical fighter. Pascal rushes in and lands a left upstairs. His awkwardness paid a dividend just then. Through two rounds Kovalev has landed nearly twice as many blows (27-14) and more than doubled the number thrown (107-49) of Pascal.
Round Three: Pascal lands a straight left after a partially blocked right hook. Hard body shot from Kovalev’s big right hand. Pascal takes it well and lands a right and a left hook that caught Kovalev a little off balance. Pascal has come to fight. Then just like that, Kovalev lands a huge left hook. Pascal may have needed the ropes to stay up. Pascal manages to land a body shot and looks steadier now. Kovalev really pressing now. Pascal is not fully recovered. Kovalev nearly knocks Pascal through the ropes with a huge straight right. My goodness he hits hard. That is the first official knockdown of Pascal’s career (Hopkins appeared to make his glove touch canvas twice in their second bout). The bell saves Pascal. He is hurt.
Round Four: Kovalev stalks forward and is throwing at will. Pascal’s legs are not moving well. Kovalev is coming hard now. Pascal has a chin. Pascal lands a hard counter right to Kovalev’s chin. Kovalev nods and keeps coming. Pascal is still unsteady. He is still wobbly. Pascal lands a very hard right hand. This is a man with heart. Kovalev weathers it though. The round closes with both men swinging freely. Great round for Kovalev overall, but Pascal showed serious mettle.
Round Five: Kovalev seemed surprised going to his corner that Pascal is still here. He’s not the only one. Kovalev’s punches thud through the TV screen. Even glancing blows look and sound heavy. Kovalev lands an overhand right, but Pascal was moving away from it. Pascal lands a decent left hook and comes forward. Pascal stings Kovalev with an awkward right and nearly doubles over Kovalev with a left to the body. Pascal punctuates the round with a left to the body and a grazing right to the chin. The crowd is going nuts. Pascal’s round.
Round Six: A straight right lands to the ear of Kovalev. Another big right to Pascal appears to wobble Kovalev. Big right hook by Kovalev. Pascal’s chin is granite. Kovalev is actually backing up. Both fighters trading shots. A very close round, but Pascal’s punches were more obvious to judges. Pascal looks more gassed going to the corner.
Round Seven: Kovalev gets tied up with Pascal and pushes him down and nearly through the ropes. Pascal looks tired. The fighters get tied up again with Kovalev doing most of the holding. Pascal moving forward again. Not a lot is landing for either man, although Kovalev is much more active. Pascal has earned the Krusher’s respect. Kovalev is boxing now. Kovalev’s jab is winning this round. A hard left hook staggers Pascal backwards at the end of the round. It’s possible Pascal is more tired than hurt. Either way, the fight is turning back to Kovalev.
Round Eight: Kovalev slips on the paint in the center of the ring awkwardly, but is fine. Kovalev lands a solid three punch combination and is strafing Pascal and nearly had Pascal knocked out when he slips a second time and falls backward. Kovalev gets back up and starts hammering Pascal in the corner. A brutal right lands to the Pascal’s ear and referee Luis Pabon steps in and stops the fight.
This was a tremendous fight that will serve the reputation of both fighters well. Kovalev has never been in the sort of trouble he found himself in during the 5th and 6th round. He was more than stung by Pascal, he was hurt, if only briefly. Some may argue the stoppage was premature—Pascal certainly did, but one more blow like the right hand that forced Pabon’s hand could have been dangerous to Pascal’s health.
This was a fight worthy of a rematch. Pascal’s fellow Canadian and WBC Light Heavyweight Champion Adonis Stevenson, was in the arena, and according to Bernard Hopkins, finally wants to get in the ring with Kovalev. Stevenson has taken tremendous heat for his perceived avoidance of Kovalev, but perhaps the vulnerability he saw in the Krusher tonight has emboldened his resolve.
As all fight fans know, that is a fight that should happen, and right soon.
Photo Credit : David Spagnolo/Main Events
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