Live on Sky Sports 1 from 00:45 in the early hours of Sunday morning, the hard-hitting Sergey Kovalev defends his WBO, WBA and IBF world light-heavyweight titles against the iron-chinned Jean Pascal in Montreal, Canada.
Kovalev v Pascal Tale of the Tape
Sergey Kovalev: 26-0-1 (23 KO)
Following a string of early knockouts after debuting in 2009, Kovalev was picked up by Kathy Duva’s Main Events promotional company, who organised a title shot against the then undefeated – and, at the time, highly rated – WBO light-heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly.
Kovalev easily stopped Cleverly in the fourth round to win his first major professional boxing title. Three successful title defences followed, all finishing within the distance and two in the second round. Now rated as one of the elite hard-hitters in boxing, and a man many other fighters wanted to avoid given his power, Kovalev was then offered a title unification match with the evergreen WBA and IBF champ Bernard Hopkins.
A man who’d lived a clean lifestyle and kept himself in superb physical condition at the age of 49, Hopkins had defied the odds many times in the past, but fighting Kovalev proved to be a step too far. Indeed, it was quite apparent that Kovalev was going to win easily after he’d hit Hopkins a few times in the first round of their bout.
Rather than going for the knockout, though, Kovalev took his time with Hopkins, continually landing a few punches and moving out of range so that the wily veteran couldn’t try to clinch and use his head or elbows, as he’d done so often throughout his career.
Kovalev simply played it safe, but it was slow and brutal one-sided destruction of a sure-fire boxing hall of famer and, if they hadn’t already, the sporting world sat up and took notice.
Jean Pascal: 29-2-1 (17 KO)
Born in Haiti, 32-year-old Jean Pascal moved to Canada as a 4-year-old boy, embarking on an amateur boxing career in his early teens. Later representing his adopted nation in the 2004 Olympics, Pascal’s biggest achievement in the unpaid ranks was winning a gold medal in the 2002 Commonwealth games.
Boxing at light-middleweight as an amateur but opting to make his professional debut as a super-middleweight, Pascal started his paid boxing career in 2005. After twenty-one straight wins, the French speaking fighter was matched against Carl Froch, with the vacant WBC world title at stake.
Losing on points in what was a valiant effort, Pascal traded hard blows with the tough Briton throughout their contest and gained a lot of credit in the process. Indeed, such credit that after another fight at super-middleweight he was granted a WBC light-heavyweight title shot.
Beating Adrian Diaconu to win his first world title, Pascal successfully defended it three times, including against a man then rated as the best in the division, Chad Dawson, before facing off against that man Bernard Hopkins.
In a scrappy match full of holding and foul-play, Pascal dropped Hopkins twice on route to a controversial draw verdict. A rematch was ordered, which Pascal lost on points through a strangely mute performance.
Two straightforward wins followed for Pascal, who then faced former IBF super-middleweight champion Lucian Bute in an all-Canadian clash. Winning with ease on points, the strong and tough Pascal then had a no contest fight against a lesser boxer in his last fight, before the bout with Kovalev was made.
Winner of Kovalev – Pascal to Face ‘Superman’ Stevenson
This weekend’s WBO, WBA and IBF light-heavyweight bout between Sergey Kovalev and Jean Pascal is effectively a semi-final match to fully unify the four major world titles, with the hard-hitting WBC champion Adonis ‘ Superman’ Stevenson seen as the final piece of the jigsaw and Pascal a gatekeeper of sorts.
Since Stevenson, – another adopted Canadian – has a big fan base in Canada where most of his fights are held, the Kovalev-Pascal bout is intended to create further interest in anticipation of a mega-fight between expected victor Kovalev and Stevenson – two of the hardest and most exciting punchers in boxing.
Kovalev v Pascal Betting
WBO, WBA and IBF champ Kovalev is offered around 2/11, while challenger Pascal is available around 9/2. In terms of method of victory, Kovalev is priced at 1/2 to win by KO/TKO or DQ, or 7/2 to win on points, while Pascal is 9/1 to win by KO/TKO or DQ, or 8/1 to win by a scorecard verdict.
The Kovalev v Pascal Betting Verdict
I don’t doubt that Kovalev will defeat Pascal, but he’s too short priced to back at 2/11. Now, In terms of method of victory, with 23 stoppage wins from 26 bouts, you can argue that the 1/2 on offer for Kovalev to win by KO/TKO or DQ is a value bet, but then Pascal has never been stopped.
Indeed, we know that Pascal’s a tough, iron-chinned boxer after watching his points loss to Carl Froch a few years ago, so he’s extremely unlikely to fold easily this weekend and is a proud man boxing at home.
Notably, the hard-hitting Kovalev boxed with caution when there was a lot at stake vs Hopkins, and with a title unification bout against Stevenson on the line this time, there’s again a lot at stake this weekend.
All in all, while Kovalev will want to make a strong impression in front of a Canadian audience in order to further hype his future bout with Stevenson, my calculated guess is that Pascal can at least last eight rounds, maybe the full twelve.
Recommendation: Over 7.5 total rounds at 8/11
Of course, whether you do or don’t opt for a wager, have a great weekend and feel free to contact me on Twitter via @JCLaLiga if you have any questions or feedback.