Kovalev-Pascal II: This Time, It’s Personal

By Robert Ecksel on January 28, 2016
Kovalev-Pascal II: This Time, It’s Personal
Kovalev wrote, with the sort of witlessness often mistaken for wit, “Adonis looks great!!!”

Kovalev’s power and fearlessness, no less than his killer instinct, will still be a handful, no matter what Freddie Roach teaches Pascal…

Is there anything more personal than hitting another man in the face? It’s hard to imagine. But with political correctness having run amok, and with political incorrectness running amok, there are apparently things even more personal than rearranging another man’s features.

On Saturday, January 30, at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada, WBA/IBF/WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (28-0-1, 25 KOs), the knockout artist from Ft. Lauderdale by way of Kopeysk, Russia, rematches former WBC/WBO light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal (30-3-1, 17 KOs), from Laval, Quebec, Canada, by way of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Their first fight, also at the Bell Centre in March of last year, ended as almost all Kovalev’s fights end, with his opponent on the canvas or wrapped in the arms of a protective referee.

But it was an excellent fight, a competitive fight, before Luis Pabon waved it off, perhaps prematurely, at 1:03 of the eighth round.

Pascal had only lost twice in his career, to Carl Froch in 2008 and Bernard Hopkins in 2011, and had never been stopped. He might never have been the best of the best in the light heavyweight division, but has always been a hair’s breadth away from being an elite fighter.

Pascal survived a third round knockdown in their first encounter and unlike most of Kovalev’s opponents he brought the fight to the Russian bomber.

That’s the good news. The bad news is Kovalev is still being accused of being a racist.

For a man whose English is serviceable at best, Kovalev raised the hackles of many well-meaning folks by saying “Negro” and “dark-skinned people.” Those words seem more descriptive than anything inherently offensive. They also lack the mocking, hectoring tone that makes race-baiting so inflammatory. But when the Russian posted a legitimately racist photo of himself on Twitter, the outcry was loud and has not subsided. The photo showed Kovalev pointing at a child wearing a t-shirt that had a gorilla’s head on a man’s body. The man was wearing boxing gloves, and Kovalev wrote, with the sort of witlessness often mistaken for wit, “Adonis looks great!!!”

Stevenson didn’t respond, which is perhaps the smartest thing he has never done, but Pascal got the message.

At one of the pressers prior to Saturday’s fight, Pascal reached inside of a plastic bag and pulled out some bananas.

“Kovy, do you want a banana?” he said. “You’re white. I know you’re white, and it’s only for black people, bananas, you know. Do you want to take it for your black coach? He might want to eat it because he’s black.”

The pointlessness of that exchange can’t be overemphasized. Bigger might be better and less might be more, but two jerks aren’t better than one. One can make excuses for Kovalev. One can make excuses for Pascal. Hate has never gone out of style and is making a comeback in a big way. But that exchange may be, in the final analysis, less about race than the coursening of discourse, about which few people are aware and ever fewer seem to care.

To shift from the ridiculous to the sublime, from the rude to the significant, Kovalev, no matter what he thinks about blacks, let alone Chechens, is a machine bent on destruction. He can be hit, something Pascal used to his advantage in the first fight, but Pascal’s willingness to slug with a slugger was his downfall. It won’t, however, be his downfall Saturday night if Pascal’s new trainer, Freddie Roach, has anything to say about it.

“We have a mutual friend in Georges St. Pierre,” said Roach. “Jean did come and he asked me would I train him and I told him I might not have time right now, my back was sore,  and I’m about to have surgery on my back. I told him to go home. He wouldn’t go home though! He kept showing up at the gym and his work ethic was really good and he trained hard. I said, ‘People told me you were pretty lazy.’ He said, ‘I’m not lazy,’ and he does work hard. He was training really good and we were getting really good together.

“He has a great jab and he told me one day, ‘I have no confidence in my jab.’ I said, ‘Why not? It’s your best punch. You’re like Manny Pacquiao. His best punch is his jab also.’ He’s another guy who doesn’t have a lot of confidence in his jab and doesn’t set things up with his jab as much as I would like him to. And Jean’s a little bit the same way. He likes to go in with power shots. He likes to fight. I do like that part about him a little bit, because I like to fight, but it’s not always what I teach. I’m trying to teach him to be a better boxer because he can be that. And I think in this fight he needs to be a better boxer to win this fight. Jean has a tendency where he like to lay back and wait on the ropes a little bit and I told him, ‘You lay on the ropes a little bit, you’re going to give him a chance to land the big right hand and to win the fight.’ I says, ‘That’ll be your choice.’”

Pascal’s willingness to fight is exactly what makes his fights exciting. But the sport is called boxing for a reason, and few men know boxing as well as Freddie Roach.

“To be with the best you need to fight with the best plus train with the best,” said Pascal. “I think Freddie’s résumé speaks for itself. He’s been there, done that with big fights. Because this is a very, very big fight so I went for skills and experience and Freddie has that. The first time I did pads with Freddie I saw the difference. I said if I want to get to the next level that I want to get to, that level that I belong to, I need to train with Freddie, to be not one of the best, but the best. He was my first choice.”

Kovalev’s power and fearlessness, no less than his killer instinct, will still be a handful, no matter what Freddie teaches Pascal.

“I think Pascal and Freddie will bring new weapons against me,” said Kovalev, “but I must be ready for this situation. I’m ready for everything because it’s my job. I grow fight by fight. I’m interested too in what he will bring in the ring with Freddie Roach. I was disappointed in my performance in our last fight against Pascal. I want to do this much better, much more clear. I would like to beat him where there are no questions, no doubt between me and him. It was a very hard fight. I did a lot of mistakes in our last fight and right now I try to fix it. I try to be better. It’s a secret about my mistakes and just me and my trainer know about my mistakes. I learned from my first fight. Right now I fix it and try to be creative, do everything exactly correct and try to fight harder and try to stop Pascal early this time.

“I didn’t finish my job and my goal in the last fight because the referee saved his health and it really was a right stoppage because all fight was a lot of very hard punches. I think Pascal has reason to say thank you to Luis Pabon, the referee for the fight, because he was already drunk, you know like spaghetti legs. I think he must say ‘thanks a lot’ that he’s still alive.”


Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Kovalev vs Pascal Full Fight

Discuss this in our forums

Related Articles


This is a place to express and/or debate your boxing views. It is not a place to offend anyone. If we feel comments are offensive, the post will be deleted and continuing offenders will be blocked from the site. Please keep it clean and civil! We want to have fun. We want some salty language and good-natured exchanges. But let's keep our punches above the belt...
  1. Electric E 03:35pm, 01/29/2016

    I feel like nowadays it’s very politically incorrect to call a white guy a racist even if he compares a black man to a chimp. They are up in arms and get their feelings hurt when all that’s happening is that they are being called out for their own actions. Robert Ecksel actually seems more annoyed at Pascal for bringing up Kovalev’s racism. How dare he!! Comparing a back man to a chimp is one thing but calling a racist man a racist is just crossing the line! And for the sake of promoting a fight, that’s just low.

    As far as the fight I really think it can go either way. Pascal put in some really good work in their first fight and actually put him on the canvas. Kovalev can be predictable and Pascal exposed it. Don’t be fooled, this fight can go either way.

  2. Koolz 05:00pm, 01/28/2016

    your on to it Eric and I would talk about it but it would open Pandora’s Box on here!

    Pascal is trying and hoping his beliefs can some how get him by the Krusher.  They can’t.  They won’t.  It’s going to be a slaughter.

    It will be fast I think , faster then the first match.  Kovalev will look to Finish.

    Let’s just hope that Pascal just get’s KO’d fast and it’s over.  We don’t want any brain bruising here!

  3. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 11:47am, 01/28/2016

    Pascal believes that he is better than he really is which is typical of this “sport”, actually a good thing in this “sport”.  Just as being able to perform under heavy pressure is typical for many because some fighters are just too damn dumb and numb to get it, again a good thing in this “sport”. A “sport” where Mike Perez can use his forearms, elbows, and shoulders to batter Abdusalamov to near death and permanent and severe disability. Where Terrel Williams can literally chop at the back of Prichard Colon’s head to the point where Colon remains in a coma to this very day.

  4. Eric 11:38am, 01/28/2016

    The gullible traitor trash sellout, Dubya, was called a monkey, and lets be honest, the useful NWO idiot looks like a monkey. Obama looks somewhat like a chimp.  Neither of these observations can be construed as wayciss just because you identify that both have a primate or a simian-like features. I have seen all sorts of humans of different races that have primate or simian-like features. Hell, there are people out there that favor English bulldogs, would that be wayciss to point that out as well? When did the word, “Negro” or “dark-skinned people” become a no-no? Is it offensive to label people “fair-skinned” as well? Sheesh. Nothing wrong with bananas, damn things are loaded with potassium, and much better for a fighter than wolfing down Almond Joys. Back to the fight, the Krusher in 5.

Leave a comment