They passed the tests, but in very different ways.
Super middleweight contenders Edison Miranda and Jean Pascal won their fights tonight, and are now tentatively scheduled to meet up in June. But the fights told stories: Miranda is exactly what we knew, a power-punching dynamo, and Pascal's performance exposed weaknesses that someone like Miranda could exploit in short order.
Miranda was patient with slickster David Banks, letting Banks move from a distance and, on my card, win the first two rounds. Then, one punch ended it. A sensational, perfectly placed and timed right hand sent Banks not just to the canvas, but hanging halfway out of the ring between the second and third ropes. The punch sounded like a shotgun blast as it exploded off of Banks' face, and the Oregon native was knocked out.
That was it. Miranda wasn't the wild headhunter of old. For two rounds, he may have looked sluggish to some. But he was just waiting for that opening, as Banks is known for exposing himself to big shots. When the chance came, Miranda didn't throw a lunging haymaker. He just finished the night with brutal power.
Prior to Miranda's devastating showing, Jean Pascal controlled six rounds-plus against Philadelphian Omar Pittman, before the underdog made a late charge. Late in the seventh, Pittman had Pascal reeling from a left hook, and he dominated him in the eighth round, with Pascal maybe being saved by the bell as Pittman rocked him with a big right hand in the final few seconds. In the ninth, Pittman kept coming, but Pascal seemed to find his legs and head again.
I had it 99-90 for Pascal, seeing just the eighth truly going in Pittman's favor. Pascal scored a knockdown on a counter left hook in the second round, with Pittman barreling toward him recklessly. Official cards were 98-91, 98-91 and 97-92.
Right now, I make Miranda a heavy favorite against Pascal, but it's not like Jean Pascal can't adjust. He needs to work on his defense and not let himself lose rounds, because against Omar Pittman, they're just rounds lost. Against Edison Miranda, they could be game over.
Pascal has all the natural athletic ability in the world, good speed, decent power, and he does a lot of things that anyone should like. But he has his problems.
It's not like Edison Miranda doesn't, either, though. But you have to consider this: Miranda's two losses are to, arguably, the two best middleweights on the planet. He's now at 168, where he says he's more comfortable with the weight. Is Jean Pascal world-class? I don't think so.
Miranda is too dangerous. Pascal could be in for a very rude awakening in June.
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