Sergey Kovalev and Jean Pascal are meeting in a rematch on January 30, a fight that isn't getting a lot of traction. That may change now that Pascal has accused Kovalev of racism, bringing up an incident from earlier this year where Kovalev posted a picture of a monkey on his Twitter account when talking about Adonis Stevenson.
Kovalev, 32, has since apologized for the joke, which he says he did not intend to be racial, but Pascal, 33, is using it as fuel to hype this fight. Pascal also claims that Kovalev has no respect for fans in Quebec.
"He's a racist. This fight's personal. I'm fighting ignorance. He's an ignorant guy to still be racist in 2016. Those things have no place in society. We need to teach this Russian a good lesson. I'm not trying to play the racist card. He's just a racist."
Like Stevenson, Pascal (30-3-1, 17 KO) is a native Haitian who lives in Quebec. Kovalev responded that he's not racist, and that it was simply a bad joke, something his promoter Kathy Duva backed up while dismissing Pascal's comments, and "growing uncomfortable" during Pascal's time at the microphone, according to the Montreal Gazette:
"He's going to get his ass kicked more thoroughly than he did the last time. I do not respect much of what he said, which was ugly and uncalled for. It was completely unnecessary. I'm not going to dignify that. He apologized and it's over. Everybody who never made a bad joke, raise your hand."
Kovalev (28-0-1, 25 KO) met face-to-face with Stevenson this past Saturday in Quebec City, with both in attendance for the DeGale-Bute Showtime fight. There has been renewed discussion about the two of them potentially meeting in 2016, but so far that's just talk.
For now, Pascal is, as Duva put it, the best available opponent for Kovalev, who stopped Pascal in the eighth round when they met on March 14.