Kovalev vs. Pascal in crucial light-heavyweight world championship boutWritten by Brian Opal
IBF, WBO and WBA Light Heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (26-0, 23 KOs) will defend his world titles this evening against Jean Pascal (29-2, 17 KOs) at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Kovalev has been building a reputation as a fierce puncher because he’s been walking through all of his opponents in dominant fashion. Some would describe his knockout power in both hands combined with a deep, decorated amateur background and elite-level technical boxing skills as intimidating and perhaps somewhat scary.
However, let’s not discount that Pascal is the former lineal Light Heavyweight champion and he was for good reason. He’s no “tin can” man by any stretch of the imagination and a world championship fight in a large arena with thousands of his countrymen behind him should provide all the motivation he needs.
Pascal may not be in the headlines much these days, but he’s still an elite fighter in the division with more than his fair share of athleticism, speed and talent. He should not be underestimated by Kovalev and his growing base of fans and supporters.
Although “Krusher” already owns three major world titles, he wants to go right after the WBC and The Ring belts as well, which are held by Adonis “Superman” Stevenson — the current lineal champion of the 175-pound division. Top Rank and Main Events appeared to be close to making the fan-friendly “dream fight” between Stevenson and Kovalev last year, but Adonis decided to leave HBO to take what he described as a more promising deal with Showtime.
Unfortunately, that move made it more difficult to put the fight together due to political and financial disagreements between the major promotional firms and cable TV networks. But the great news for sports fans is those problems are in the process of being resolved! And at the end of the day that means more competitive match-ups, better fights and much more world championship boxing on channels like NBC and Spike TV. That all equates to more entertainment value, which appeals to a much larger demographic of viewers. More bang for the buck and more reasons for casual and mainstream sports fans to follow the sport of boxing.
Around the same time Stevenson signed with Showtime, it was reported that his team was trying to secure a big unification bout with then IBF, WBA champion and future Hall-of-Famer Bernard Hopkins. But that plan ultimately fell through and folded like a house of cards. Hopkins chose to fight Kovalev instead of Stevenson and in that bout probably lost every round while taking the most one-sided brutal beating of his lengthy and legendary career. It was a hard sight to see for Hopkins fans and it almost felt like the end of an era. As if “the torch” had been passed down from one generation to the next.
Shorty after, the fans started beating the proverbial “war drums” even louder for one of the marquee fights nearly all boxing fans have been practically begging to see for the past couple of years: Stevenson vs. Kovalev for the undisputed, lineal Light Heavyweight championship of the world. It seems that the growing demand created by the fans and those who work in and around the sport has finally been addressed and fulfilled.
The WBC recently announced that the winner of Kovalev vs. Pascal will become the mandatory challenger for Stevenson’s highly-coveted “green belt.” Now that’s the type of action that fans want to see from the sanctioning bodies!
The strange part is that Adonis has stated that he will not participate in the elimination process.
Please speak louder directly into the mic and clarify that, champ. That comment sounds like Stevenson is implying he may very well choose to vacate or be stripped of his title if the WBC forces him to fight the winner of Kovalev vs. Pascal.
Will Stevenson change his position about facing his WBC mandatory challenger if Pascal pulls off the upset and beats the Russian wrecking-ball?
What if Pascal not only outboxes Kovalev, but makes him look like a slow, club fighter and pulls off a miraculous stoppage. Would “Superman” still be making comments that make it sound like he’s just fine with giving away his world championship on a silver platter instead of defending it and fighting to keep it?
Stay tuned because we’ll found out soon enough.