It was a fan-friendly rumble in Montreal on Saturday night, as Jean Pascal matched his talk with some dead-serious walk. Yes, he eventually paid a steep price, in destroyed neurons, for messing with Krusher's cap, but along the way, the Haitian-born Montreal resident showed one and all that his chin, his heart, his stones, are all A grade.
He still gets an L tacked on to his BoxRec, though, and tastes the bitterness of his first stoppage defeat.
So, that brings us to the inevitable what's next for the smiling assassin Kovalev, who flurried hard to wobble Pascal precariously in the eighth, slipped, fell, got back up and finished the show. Yes, he's a shark with gloves on; when there is blood in the water, he offers no reprieve.
Thoughts of an immediate rematch popped into my head, despite the reasonably conclusive manner in which Kovalev won. Pascal and his crew encouraged that course of action, and I'm guessing the network and the fans who hit the Bell Centre would be enthused to see if Pascal could get together with Roy Jones and tweak his game-plan a bit to defend a bit differently, and keep his chin out of harms way.
In asking around post-fight, it looks very much like we will next see Kovalev tangling with the IBF's No. 1 ranked middleweight, Nadjin Mohammedi. The 37-3 Frenchman has been working with Gennady Golovkin trainer Abel Sanchez for two fights now, notched a stoppage win on the #KovalevPascal undercard, and is a banger who will not look to survive. Like Pascal, this 30-year-old will seek to prove that Kovalev chin isn't made of Teflon.
Kovalev's promoter, Kathy Duva, who had the look of a worried mum seeing her toddler totter precariously on a concrete sidewalk when Pascal was having a bit of luck at La Belle, told me that yes, we will likely see a rematch. “Someday, very likely,” the New Jersey based dealmaker said. “But an IBF mandatory with Mohammedi is next. If Sergey beats him, the IBF will order Kovalev to meet Pascal next after that. Lots of possibilities, very exciting!”
Fans still seek a showdown between Kovalev, who holds a bounty of belts, and Adonis Stevenson, a Haitian hitter making Canada his home base. Kovalev was asked about tangling with him in short order, post-fight, and indicated he'd be open to that. HBO analyst for the night Bernard Hopkins told viewers that Stevenson, on site, told him he wanted to scrap with Kovalev. Political issues could muddy those waters, though, because Adonis is signed to advisor Al Haymon, who likes to more so keep things in house. Duva has taken aim at him, no holds barred, for that inclination, over the last year. Yvon Michel promoted Stevenson; I reached out to him to see where we stood with Kovalev-Stevenson. “This fight is in line for the fall,” he told me. “Adonis has to beat Sakio Bika on April 4 first, and Kovalev has to be beat Mohammedi. If Stevenson-Kovalev would have occurred last fall, only hard-core fans would have cared,” he declared.
That bout was on track to take place when Stevenson pulled a switcheroo, signed with Haymon, and set a ball of consternation and tumult and a lawsuit, since pulled, into motion. “In fall 2015, there will be over 20,000 fans in the arena and millions watching two of the best punchers n boxing today aiming at each other,” Michel continued. “Kovalev is rough and punches very hard with every shot. Adonis has more pure power and he is a sniper. We cannot get a better scenario.”
And will Mr. Haymon fall in line and work to help this bout reach the finish line? “Absolutely,” said Michel.
Duva is not as optimistic that scrap can reach the finish line. The last time she talked to Michel, she said, they were on the same page about making Kovalev-Stevenson for fall 2014.
We should see Kovalev back in the ring in the summer, against Mohammedi, said Egis Klimas, who manages the Russian, who now resides in California. June, maybe July, said Klimas, one of the top handful of managers in the game.
As for Pascal, his stock ticked up, as his warrior cred was apparent to all viewers. What's next for him, as it looks like he won't be able to lure the Russian into an immediate re-do?
I'm waiting on a statement from Pascal advisor Greg Leon, to weigh in…
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