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Scouting Report and Notes: Kovalev vs Pascal

Sergey Kovalev faces Jean Pascal this Saturday night on HBO. Here are some quick notes on both fighters.

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Sergey Kovalev

  • Kovalev is one of only two men in boxing today to hold more than two sanctioning body titles in a single division. The other is Wladimir Klitschko, who is also lineal heavyweight champion. Kovalev holds the WBA, WBO, and IBF titles (same as Wladimir), but is not the lineal champion at 175. That's Adonis Stevenson.
  • Only four fighters have ever gone past the fourth round with Kovalev, and only one (Bernard Hopkins) has ever gone past eight. The others are Cedric Agnew (2014, KO-7), Karen Avetisyan (2010, UD-6), and Darnell Boone (2010, SD-8). Worth noting that in a rematch two years later, Kovalev stopped Boone in the second round.
  • Before the decision win over Hopkins, Kovalev had stopped nine straight foes, eight inside of four rounds. And if you ignore a second-round technical draw in 2011 with Grover Young, Kovalev had a streak of 13 straight stoppage wins, dating back to 2010.
  • Kovalev has truly thunderous power in his right hand, and very good power in his left, as well. Pascal has faced some good fighters and some good punchers, but it's likely that Kovalev will be the hardest puncher he's faced to date, and possibly even the best fighter, period.
  • If anything, Kovalev is underrated as a technician. He doesn't make major mistakes, with a basic style that he uses to maximum effectiveness. He's efficient and calculated, not wasting a lot of motion, and prefers a steady output at distance, where he can catch opponents on the end of his right hand.
  • Styles make fights and all, but their one major common opponent is Hopkins. That speaks well for Kovalev's chances.

Jean Pascal

  • Pascal is most famous, probably, for a pair of fights with Bernard Hopkins. Those fights were in 2010 and 2011. Since the second fight with Hopkins (a loss, the first being a controversial draw), Pascal has fought four times, and faced just one serious opponent. That was Lucian Bute in January 2014, a wide win for Pascal. But other than that, Pascal has not faced a world class fighter since Hopkins in the last four years.
  • This will be Pascal's sixth straight fight at the Bell Center in Montreal, where he's a very popular attraction. He's probably somewhere below what Lucian Bute was at his peak, but ahead of Adonis Stevenson. The crowd will be decidedly pro-Pascal.
  • Because of Pascal's lax schedule the last few years, there have been a lot of people who wonder whether or not he's truly dedicated to boxing, or if the two fights with Hopkins, the second of which was downright humbling, might have sapped some of his spirit for the sport, particularly the hard work that goes into training for top-level fights. That's not to say that Pascal won't be in shape or that he's not dedicated, but it's a question that has been asked, and worth taking into account.
  • Pascal's greatest strength might be his athleticism, and he digs to the body nicely when he remembers that part of the attack. He moves well and has fast enough hands and good enough power. His greatest weakness might be the fact that he's not regarded as a particularly smart fighter, owing to the way Hopkins seemed to worm his way into Pascal's head midway into their first fight. Bernard never left until he beat Pascal in the rematch.
  • There have been big fights where Pascal has shown a certain fearlessness that served him well. Against Hopkins the first time, he had that working for about half the fight. He also showed that against Chad Dawson and Carl Froch, a loss in a valiant effort on the road in the United Kingdom. That said, despite a chiseled physique, conditioning has often been questionable for Pascal. He tired late in the Dawson fight and may have gotten saved by a cut stoppage in the 11th round, and Hopkins wore him out in both fights.
  • Styles make fights and all, but their one major common opponent is Hopkins. That doesn't speak well for Pascal's chances.

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