Seven years ago the boxing world learned that Jean Pascal was someone to take notice of.
The Haitian-born Canadian battled ferociously with England’s Carl Froch in one of that year’s most brutal affairs. Few realized Pascal would emerge a world champion despite that loss.
That was 2008 and since then Pascal captured the WBC light heavyweight world title in 2009 and fended off challenges from Adrian Diaconu twice, Silvio Branco, Chad Dawson and Bernard Hopkins. Eventually Hopkins won the rematch and left the Canadian without a world title.
But since that time the light heavyweight division has muscled up. Enter Sergey Kovalev, enter Adonis Stevenson and enter Andre Ward. In other words, there’s money to be made in the 175-pound weight class.
On Jan. 30, Pascal (30-3-1, 17 KOs) returns for another collision with “Krusher” Kovalev (28-0-1, 25 KOs), the IBF, WBO, and WBA light heavyweight titlist. Their world title clash takes place at Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada, the same venue as their previous meeting. HBO will televise.
Their last meeting, in March of last year, didn’t go past eight rounds, but both landed crunching blows. Pascal was stopped at 1:03 of the eighth round.
Pascal is reloading. This time he has famous trainer Freddie Roach doing the loading. If anyone can change the direction of the results, it would be Irish Freddie.
“He is a great boxing coach,” says Pascal who has trained at the famous Wild Card Boxing gym in Hollywood for this fight match. “He has great experience and that is the quality of a good coach.”
Roach has always had a good reputation as a trainer but lately, especially after Miguel Cotto’s re-emergence, the Hollywood-based coach has shown himself to be a master tactician too. What he did with Cotto was amazing to those on the boxing scene. Even in the Puerto Rican’s loss to Mexico’s Saul “Canelo” Alvarez it was clear that their strategy was excellent.
“Freddie has the eye of the tiger,” said Pascal about finding flaws. “He sees things.”
Kovalev won the first fight by knockout. Some say the fight ended too early but it was clear that the Russian blaster was ahead on points. That’s not disputed. But in boxing everyone has a puncher’s chance. Pascal wants that chance.
Roach agrees that Pascal deserves another chance but does not agree in using the same style.
“The same strategy won't work. Both guys have smartened up. Maybe the fight was stopped too soon but referees are there for a reason, to protect the fighter and so forth. We're not going to blame the referee at all,” said Roach.
Roach also added that he plans for Pascal to box Kovalev, not bang.
“I told him if you go out there and start swinging for the fences and get real wild like you can do at times, when you get back to the corner I won't be there. I'm going to go home,” Roach said.
Box or go home is the theme of this rematch.