A little more than 10 months after Sergey Kovalev defeated Jean Pascal with an eighth-round TKO, the two boxers will go at it once again. For the second time, Kovalev puts his three light heavyweight titles on the line against Pascal when the fighters meet in Montreal on Saturday.
Still having never lost a fight as he enters his 30th career bout, Kovalev is a heavy favorite. Bovada.lv gives him -2000 betting odds to win the championship fight, while Pascal is a +900 underdog.
Having overcome the odds for much of his career, Pascal is confident that he can defeat Kovalev, despite what the odds makers might say.
“That’s the story of my life. When I fought Adrian Diaconu, I was the underdog. When I fought Lucian Bute … Chad Dawson … I’m very comfortable in that position,” Pascal said via the Montreal Gazette on Monday, following a 90-minute training session.
Even before their fight in March was stopped, Kovalev had the clear edge over Pascal. He landed 122 punches to his opponent’s 68 shots, according to CompuBox, and he remained upright throughout the fight while knocking down Pascal in the third round. Kovalev followed up his win over Pascal with a third-round TKO of Nadjib Mohammedi in July, and he’s proven to be one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world.
But Pascal showed signs last year that he could hang with Kovalev. It was the toughest bout of the champ’s career, having previously fought past the eighth round just once. Four months before he beat Pascal, Kovalev went 12 rounds with Bernard Hopkins, but he won a unanimous decision in which he was awarded every round on all three of the judges’ scorecards.
Kovalev admitted to being hurt by some of Pascal’s power shots, 12 of which he landed in an impressive fifth round. Pascal was much more accurate than Kovalev, connecting on 34 percent of his punches while the champ missed on 74 percent of his punches. Under the tutelage of new trainer Freddie Roach, Pascal hopes he can turn those positives into a victory.
“I know him a little bit better. He’s a big puncher,” Roach said of Kovalev. “I know his left hand … he uses that to get your attention a little bit. Then he tries to knock you out with the right hand. He’s a very good puncher with the right hand. He’s very dangerous, but we’re ready for that.”
Roach helped Miguel Cotto revitalize his career when the two teamed up a few years ago, and Pascal is hoping the trainer can take him to another level, as well.
Pascal also has the benefit of fighting near his hometown, and he’ll have the support of the crowd at the Bell Centre on Saturday night. It’ll be one of the biggest fights to ever take place in Montreal, which doesn’t have much boxing history outside of Roberto Duran vs. Sugar Ray Leonard in 1980.
Having shown he can compete with Kovalev like none of his past opponents, Pascal should give the fans in Montreal a quality fight. But Kovalev is on another level than Pascal, and after he knocked down the 33-year-old for the first time ever in their 2015 bout, he should be able to do it again on Saturday.
Prediction: Kovalev by TKO