Kudos: Kovalev TKOs Pascal

By Robert Ecksel on March 14, 2015
Kudos: Kovalev TKOs Pascal
Boxing can be thrilling when two evenly matched fighters are in the ring. (Herby Whyne)

Despite a premature stoppage by referee Luis Pabon, the fight was one of the more competitive bouts in recent memory…

Saturday night at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (27-0-1, 24 KOs), from Kopeysk, Russia, successfully defended his WBA/IBF/WBO light heavyweight titles by stopping former WBC light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal (29-3-1, 17 KOs), from Laval, Quebec, Canada, by way of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, at 1:03 of round eight.

Despite a premature stoppage by referee Luis Pabon, the fight was one of the more competitive bouts in recent memory. We’ve grown so used to lopsided contests which showcase the money fighter that one forgets how exciting boxing can be when two evenly matched and highly skilled fighters are in the ring.

Fighting out of the red corner in red trunks, Kovalev was the heavy favorite going in. The dynamite in his fists, no less than his kill or be killed ethos, made the final verdict a foregone conclusion.

But Pascal, fighting out of the blue corner in black trunks trimmed in red and white, reminded those of us that needed reminding that he’s an elite fighter, despite having lost to Carl Froch in 2008 and Bernard Hopkins in 2011.

Round one was a feeling out round. Pascal kept his distance. Kovalev controlled the action, such as it was, by firing off his jab and moving forward. Krusher landed 11 punches in the round to Pascal’s 5.

The chess match continued in round two. Kovalev commenced hostilities by bouncing a right off Pascal’s head. The Haitian shook it off and began letting his hands go. Moving in and out and looking to counter, Pascal was trying to get Krusher off his game. But a big right by the Russian at 1:56 caught Pascal. Kovalev had his attention.

Between rounds two and three, Kovalev’s trainer, John David Jackson, let his fighter know what was going on. “What he’s trying to do is throw some bullshit at you. Keep walking him down. Do what you’re doing. Real good.”

Pascal landed a right and left to start the third. Kovalev countered with a right of his own. Pascal answered with two more rights. His in-and-out style was proving effective. Kovalev’s bombs were missing the mark. But there were more bombs where those came from. Krusher landed a crushing hook that stunned Pascal. With his man hurt, Kovalev went for the jugular. A jab followed by two big right hands caught Pascal and drove him through the ropes. Correctly ruled a knockdown, Pascal untangled himself, made it through the round, and wobbled to his corner.

His cornerman told him at the end of the round, “Take a deep breath. Take it easy. Take it easy. Too much side-to-side.”

It looked like the end was near.

Pascal answered the bell for round four on unsteady legs. Leaning on the ropes to keep the ring from spinning in circles, he was a proverbial sitting duck. Kovalev was firing away when a Pascal counter caught him looking. Krusher took it and resumed the attack—when Pascal wobbled him again. To the surprise of everyone, what had been a slaughter had turned into a fight. Just to make sure than Kovalev knew it, Pascal connected with a big right, his best punch of the night. Pascal weathered the storm to make it through the round. He only landed 7 punches to Krusher’s 16, but he made those punches count.

Between rounds John David Jackson tried to get Kovalev back on track.

“Take your time,” he said. “Don’t rush. Pick your punches. Take your time. Don’t rush.”

Kovalev was tentative at the start of the fifth. He’d been nailed and fought accordingly. He landed a right. Pascal unleashed a hook that drove the champ to a neutral corner. Kovalev got out of harm’s way when another right hand pushed him back. It was a huge round for Pascal. The Canadians in the Bell Centre went berserk.

It looked like the fight was up for grabs at the start of the sixth. Pascal landed two beautiful counter right hands. He was fighting sneaky, but he was also fighting strong. Kovalev was getting hit and beginning to bust up. Pascal’s right eye was starting to swell. He landed another counter right. Krusher’s punches were falling short; Pascal was making him miss. Pascal landed a left hook in the closing seconds. Kovalev landed a right hook at the bell.

Between rounds six and seven, Pascal’s corner was ecstatic. “Keep him on his heels. Keep him on the outside. Keep him at a safe distance. But hit him!”

Kovalev regained control of the fight in round seven. Another counter right by Pascal started things off. But Krusher had decided that enough was enough. Hitting is more satisfying than getting hit. He landed a right. Pascal countered with a shot to the body. Kovalev landed two hooks to the head followed by a right, and connected with a hook at the bell for good measure.

“He’s trying to throw wild shots at you,” John David Jackson told Kovalev at the end of the seventh. “Be aware. You’re doing great.”

At the end of seven rounds, according to CompuBox, Kovalev had outlanded Pascal 113 punches to 68.

As great as Kovalev looked in round seven, he looked even greater in round eight. Throwing combinations, right hands and hooks, the last of which drove Pascal into the corner, Krusher landed two rights to the chin than had Pascal reeling. He was hurt. He hadn’t however gone down. But Luis Pabon had seen enough. He waved it off, to the dismay of Pascal and many others who were watching and loving the fight.

At the end of the bout Kovalev said, “How I started I didn’t like, but after fourth round I got control under John. And what you saw, I got him with a good right hand and he was mine. He got me a couple good punches, but I didn’t lose control. My mind didn’t lose control and I did my job. It’s boxing. It’s boxing. I’m ready for any fights. I’m ready for anyone.”

Based on his performance against Kovalev, Pascal is ready for anyone as well.

“Honestly,” he said, “I think it was a good fight for the fans. It was an action fight. I give my best. I don’t want to take anything from Kovalev. He’s a great champion. But that stoppage, I think it was a bullshit stoppage. I was still in the fight. That was a tough fight for both of us and I don’t know why the referee just stopped the fight. I feel that he was waiting for that moment to stop the fight. It’s boxing, not hockey. I was in the fight from the first round. I’m sure I gave him his toughest fight.  But we should do it again. We should have a rematch.”

Sounds good to me. I’ll mark my calendar.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Sergey Kovalev vs. Jean Pascal: HBO World Championship Boxing Highlights

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. Galvar 05:32pm, 03/15/2015

    It’s really hard to tell if that was good stoppage.  Pasqual was done in the 3rd but he rallied back.  Is it all that far fetched that he could’ve done the same after taking those shots before the stoppage?  Don’t blame the ref though, better safe than sorry.  But Pasqual deserves a rematch.

  2. Koolz 01:11pm, 03/15/2015

    Pascal had some really nice counters in that match.  Kovalev figures him out though.  Man he just took crazy power shot to the head, thank god the ref stopped it.
    Krusher Krush!  Now let’s get him making over million a fight!

    Good Fight!

  3. nicolas 11:48am, 03/15/2015

    Watching the fight, I did not give Pascal a round, though I agree the 5th and 6th were close, and if one was to give Pascal a round, it would have been those rounds, which the judges, and HBO LEDERAMan did do. If Kovalev fights Stevenson though, he had better be concerned that he does not get got with some of the shots that Pascal hit him with. While I have heard of Pascal being considered a puncher, with only a 50 percent knockout rate, I would not consider him in that area with Kovalev or Stevenson. Pascal might have done better had he been busier in recent years. Since his loss to Hopkins back in 2011, he had only four fights, and 29 rounds. Kovelev had far more fights and something like 49 rounds, some where in the area of 11 fights I believe.

    CARYN: Can’t agree that at that moment he was still in the fight. I think that he had laid it all out in the fifth and 6th rounds. Dwyer of Gamblers advisory though pointed out that earlier when Pascal got knocked into the ropes, it was only the ropes that prevents him from falling to the canvas, and that should have been ruled a knockdown. I think Pabon might have had Kovalev not gone down from what was ruled a slip. It would have been I suppose awkward for Pabon to count on Pascal, but he was at that moment stumbling around. The referee needs to be on the side of caution, and Pabon did just that. It was really Pascal to blame for allowing Pabon to stop the fight. He was probably to dazed to realize that Pabon having asked him if he was okey, allowed Kovalev to hit him with two shots, and not firing back. The worst stoppage for me of all time was the Chavez-Taylor fight, with some two seconds left, I doubt that Chavez would have been able to race towards Taylor and him before the bell sounded. Also I kind of thought the Hatcher-Bumphis fight back in 84 was a bad stoppage.

  4. Kid Blast 11:46am, 03/15/2015

    Pabon is my very favorite referee. He is a fighter’s referee. He is the Anti-Smoger when it comes to protecting a fighter.

    But that’s just me, though I have backed it up with several articles about him. He is relaxed, intelligent, invisible, non-verbal, and moves like a dancer.

    If you want to see a premature stoppage, look at the first Dokes-Weaver bout where even the ref admitted it was premature.

  5. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 11:27am, 03/15/2015

    Caryn A. Tate-Here’s what I’m thinkin’....when we get into discussions like this it serves no real purpose other than to propagate the bullshit that this one really didn’t count and in order to get a legit win over someone like Pascal you have to pulverize him not once but twice. “Alert and lucid”....by your reckoning Pabon must be the most inept, unqualified, incompetent, corrupt referee to ever officiate a title bout..

  6. Caryn A. Tate 11:08am, 03/15/2015

    Robert, good write-up! I agree that it was a premature stoppage. That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t have needed to be stopped later, even just a few seconds later. But Pascal deserved more of a chance than he got from Pabon. He was taking some hard shots, yes, but he was still in the fight at that moment, alert and lucid. You can clearly see him watching the referee and Kovalev at the time of the stoppage, and it looked to me like he was attempting some rope-a-dope defense there in the corner when Pabon stopped it.

    No one wants to see a late stoppage or see a guy get beaten up. But I also don’t want to see an ex-champion and great fighter like Pascal not given enough of a chance. Early stoppages & bad scorecards, like those in the Glazkov-Cunningham fight, are bad for the fans, bad for the fighters, but also bad for the winner because it makes it appear that they needed the officials’ help to win the fight.

  7. Steve 10:21am, 03/15/2015

    Where do these clowns get premature stoppage? I assume they don’t know a fighter in danger when they see one. One more right hand and it would have been extremely conclusive. You goof balls that can dare make excuses.  The Eastern Europeans are here. They own boxing. They speak English better than our champions.

  8. Kid Blast 10:04am, 03/15/2015

    Superman = Super Pimp

  9. andrew 09:39am, 03/15/2015

    Sure we need a rematch. Krusher only crushed him three times, including the the first two when Pascal was ‘lucky’ to get extra seconds to recuperate for more punishment .

  10. Eric 09:23am, 03/15/2015

    “Soon, I fight real champion. I defeat all man.”

  11. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 09:00am, 03/15/2015

    Step up Andre Ward and get some…..he’ll come to Oakland…..you know that’s what you want….you sanctimonious ass of an SOG you! Or you, Baby Huey Chavez with your career built on the abuse of diuretics, weed and God knows what else, you know you’re a cruiserweight any Goddamned way! Or Super Pimp, (is there anything lower than a pimp….a meth dealer you say or a child molester….I say it’s a tossup….they all destroy lives) let’s go, those asshats in Montreal will be cheering for your sorry ass too!

  12. Kid Blast 07:59am, 03/15/2015

    Isaac Chilemba = zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  13. Kid Blast 07:42am, 03/15/2015

    No rematch. Time for Superman. Time to shut him up.

  14. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 07:30am, 03/15/2015

    Stoppages are often judged premature by fans and boxing writers because the fighter getting beat to a pulp (actually his brain) at the time the fight is called had some success in earlier rounds and actually landed some good shots. The two undefended rights at the end were finishing shots and there were more to come…..Pabon saved Pascal’s career and more importantly Pascal….if anything is bullshit it’s spinning this beat down into an excuse for a rematch.

  15. FrankinDallas 06:55am, 03/15/2015

    Perfectly timed stoppage. Pascal was getting badly beaten
    in a corner when Krusher slipped to the canvas. While the
    ref stopped time to get Kovalev up, Pascal was stumbling around
    the ring which was pointed out by Kovalev ...when fighting commenced,
    Kovalev hit the defenseless Pascal to the head twice…his eyes rolled
    up ffs.
    Pascal has steel cojones for sure. A rematch would be ok, but now that Krusher
    knows about Pascal’s only weapon….a wild awkward overhand right…the end would
    come quicker and easier.

  16. Critical Beatdown 06:18am, 03/15/2015

    I dunno. On a second and third look, I can understand the stoppage. I’m bummed that it happened because I would’ve liked to see Pascal take him deeper, maybe pull an upset. But he was rocked and had been stumbling around the ring for awhile. I didn’t need to see Pascal get put to sleep at that point. I do hope they seriously consider a rematch.

Leave a comment