With the boxing world clamoring for Sergey Kovelev to have a challenge in the 175-pound division, Jean Pascal gave “The Krusher” a worthy effort Saturday night at the Centre Bell in Montreal, Canada.
Surviving an early knock down, only to give his best output of the fight after, Pascal showed tremendous will in front of his hometown crowd, but was stopped via Round 8 TKO
The fight started out with both Kovalev and Pascal (29-3-1, 17 KOs) going back and forth landing shots, with Kovalev (27-0-1, 24 KOs) getting the best of the exchanges jumping out to an early lead on the score cards.
In the third round Kovalev delivered a vicious right hand, that sent Pascal through the ropes and was ruled a knockdown at the end of the round.
Kovalev tried to capitalize on the end of third round dramatics and came out trying to end to fight in the fourth. Pascal didn’t want the bout to be over that early, and despite taking some heavy shots, landed some of his own and made it through the round.
The fifth saw Pascal come out and land some powerful counter shots that slightly staggered Kovalev at times in the round, which gave Pascal his first round of the fight.
“He hurt me with a couple of good punches but I never lost control,” Kovalev said. “I kept my mind in control and I did my job. It’s boxing.”
Pascal continued his momentum built in the fifth and took it into the sixth round, as he carefully land several power counter shots en route to a second-straight round victory.
After two-straight rounds that saw Pascal give his best effort, it seemed that he ran out of gas in the seventh and Kovalev rode that to winning the round on activity alone.
The eighth saw Kovalev tag Pascal with some damaging blows and as Pascal was stumbling forward Kovalev went to land a shot on Pascal but slipped on the yellow logo in the middle of the canvas, sending the crowd in to a frenzy thinking Kovalev was knocked down.
Kovalev got up from that slip and eventually trapped Pascal in the corner, where he landed two huge right hands, leaving Pascal frozen in the corner resulting in the referee calling a halt to the bout in controversial fashion.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Kovalev. He’s a great champion but that was a bulls— stoppage because I was still in the fight,” Kovalev said. “That was a tough fight for both of us, and I don’t know why the referee just stopped the fight. It’s not hockey.”
Kovalev said he was up for any fight that would be put in front of him after what was probably the toughest fight of his career, whether it be bout with Andonis Stevenson or a rematch with his opponent Saturday night .
” I am ready for anything. I am ready for any fights,’ Kovalev said. “If my promoter says I fight Jean Pascal again, I will fight him.”