As far as scheduled rematches go, Sergey Kovalev and Jean Pascal is a head scratcher.
There were no doubts as who won the first bout, which ended in a Kovalev technical knockout victory. No outcries regarding the stoppage either, although Pascal initially felt the fight should have continued.
Despite the bout’s obvious winner, Kovalev will grant Pascal another shot at his multiple light-heavyweight belts. Kovalev, a native of Russia and part-time Fort Lauderdale resident, will face Pascal again Saturday night in Montreal.
Kovalev’s eighth-round TKO win over Pascal last March further cemented his status as one of the sport’s best pound-for-pound fighters. But, as he looks for an opportunity to become a pay-per-view performer, what does Kovalev gain out of another bout with Pascal?
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“First of all, Pascal has said bad things to my side,” Kovalev said before a workout last Thursday at the PAL Gym in Boca Raton. “I think Pascal has reason to say thank you to Luis Pabon, the referee for the [first] fight. He forgot to say thank you very much that he saved his health and life maybe.”
Kovalev (28-0-1, 25 KOs) gradually wore down Pascal with power shots before Pabon finally stopped the fight.
Further doubts about making the rematch were raised after Pascal’s recent bout, in which he won a disputed decision against Miami resident Yunieski Gonzalez last July. Gonzalez out-worked Pascal for most of the 10-round distance yet the three judges scored the bout for Pascal (30-3-1, 17 KOs) in what many fight fans considered a “gift” decision.
Pascal’s résumé, which includes a short reign as 175-pound champion, his popularity in Montreal and the controversial win over Gonzalez were sufficient dynamics in selling the rematch.
Kovalev doesn’t even mind a return trip to Montreal, site of the first bout.
Kathy Duva, president of Main Events, which promotes Kovalev, explained the reason for Kovalev-Pascall II.
“People have short memories,” Duva said in a recent conference call. “Many members of the media felt [Pascal] deserved a rematch. That was what most people were asking when the fight ended.
“There are other options out there and the economics are best here. Jean Pascal is still the best available fighter willing to get in the ring with Sergey.”
AROUND THE RING
▪ Danny Garcia won a unanimous decision over Robert Guerrero for the vacant World Boxing Council welterweight title late Saturday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Guerrero (33-4-1) applied pressure early in the bout and scored solid lead shots from short distance. But Garcia (32-0) became the busier fighter as the match entered the middle rounds, scoring effectively with lead and counter shots.
All three judges scored the bout for Garcia, 116-112. The title was vacated after former champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. retired last September.
▪ Clearwater resident Keith Thurman will defend his World Boxing Association welterweight title against former champion Shawn Porter on March 12 in Uncasville, Connecticut. The bout will be televised on CBS.
▪ The lawsuit between Miami-based All Star Boxing and Golden Boy Promotions over the promotional rights to middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez is facing another continuance.
The trial, scheduled to begin this month in Miami-Dade County circuit court, now has been moved to May 23. All-Star Boxing first filed suit against Alvarez and Golden Boy alleging breach of contract in 2011.
But, as Alvarez became one of the sport’s most successful fighters, the trial has dealt with repeated delays.
Friday (11 p.m., Estrella TV): Julian Ramirez vs. Christopher Martin, 10, featherweights.
Saturday (9:45 p.m., HBO): Sergey Kovalev vs. Jean Pascal, 12, for Kovalev’s IBF, WBA and WBO light-heavyweight titles.