Pascal knocks out Branco; Stevenson smashes Mackey

Adonis Stevenson lands a left to the head of Jermain Mackey in Montreal. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press,Ryan Remiorz)

In tonight's main event from Montreal, Jean Pascal won a 10th round technical knockout against mandatory challenger Silvio "Methuselah" Branco.  Based on his last three fights, there's an expectation of excitement in a Pascal fight, and while the fight started slow, the end didn't disappoint.

For the first several rounds, it was a relatively even fight, with Pascal using a lot of movement to keep Branco from throwing, but Pascal himself not throwing because he was too busy moving.  At the very end of the fourth round, in what had been a very uneventful fight to that point, there was a strange turn of events.  Earlier in the round, Branco had thrown Pascal off of him.  Pascal finally got aggressive in the final seconds of the round and bum rushed Branco, a tactic he'd use several times to steal rounds late.  At the end of the exchange, Pascal threw down Branco, and the referee ruled that it wasn't a knockdown.  Branco got up, then seconds later, with the bell about to ring and Pascal nowhere near him, took a knee, resulting in a knockdown count in a round he may have otherwise won. 

As the fight wore on, Pascal became less and less hesitant and started to open up with wild combos, while Branco continued to try boxing from the outside, but became weaker and weaker.  Round 7 was very similar to round 4 - very little done by Pascal most of the round, but very little damage done by Branco in the rest of the round.  At the end of the round, he again bum rushed Branco, catching him off guard and knocking him down with a second left in the round, legitimately this time.  He appeared to also knock Branco down in the 8th, but the referee had called time to fix the tape on Branco's gloves, so no credit could be given when Branco dropped.  Finally, in the 10th round, Pascal saw his opportunity and rocked, and then knocked down, Branco with a big hooking combo in the middle of the ring.  Branco got up, but Pascal jumped all over him, was able to back him up into the ropes, and landed a short left rising hook that literally lifted Branco's feet off the canvas, landing flat on his back.  At that point, his corner intervened, and Pascal had successfully made his first title defense.

Next up for Pascal is a rematch with Adrian Diaconu.  Pascal's deal to get the Diaconu fight was that rival Montreal promoter Interbox would get a two-fight option on Pascal if he won, with the first fight coming against mandatory Branco and the second being a rematch against Diaconu.  Pascal-Diaconu II should be a foregone conclusion.  While it was a fun and entertaining fight, I just don't see what the shorter and slower Diaconu could possibly do to garner a win in the rematch.  The taller Branco was a different matter, because Pascal had trouble getting inside, but Diaconu is VERY generously listed at 5'9".  Still, I'll tune in, as Pascal has continued to make his mark as one of the most exciting fighters in the sport today.

On the undercard, Adonis Stevenson got one step closer to a title shot be defeating Jermain Mackey via 5th round technical knockout.  For the first few rounds, it was a relatively slow fight, but as the fight wore on, Stevenson realized that he was able to do damage to the leaner Mackey's body, that he was quick enough to just avoid Mackey's best punches, and that anything less than Mackey's best just couldn't hurt him.  With about a minute left in the fourth round, Stevenson caught Mackey with a big uppercut that badly rocked Mackey.  Stevenson stayed on the prowl, and as the bell sounded, he landed a massive hook-uppercut combo that sent Mackey crumbling to the canvas and opened up a gash on Mackey's face.  While Mackey beat the count, he couldn't shake the knockdown by the beginning of the next round and Stevenson flurried to force the referee to end the fight.  Stevenson jumps to 13-0 with 10 knockouts, and climbs the WBC's super middleweight rankings.

Also on the undercard, the normally feather fisted Sebastien Demers landed a perfect right hand to knock Jose Spearman out cold in the first.  Demers is now campaigning at 168, and he'll need to keep showing more power if he wasnt to make any noise in a much stronger weight class. 

Carl Handy won a rematch over local tough guy Jason Whittom.  The two had previously fought a controversial split decision.  Handy left Whitton bloodied and battered, but could not take him out and won by unanimous decision.  Prospects Kevin Bizier and Pier Olivier Cote also took easy unanimous decision victories.

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