Tonight at 10 pm EST on HBO, Sergey Kovalev returns to action to defend his three light heavyweight title belts against Nadjib Mohammedi, with contender Jean Pascal in the co-feature against Yuniesky Gonzalez.
Kovalev (27-0-1, 24 KO) is expected to win without much trouble in this fight, as few give Mohammedi (37-3, 23 KO) any serious change at the upset. The 30-year-old Mohammedi, from France, is the IBF mandatory challenger, and this is a fight that could not be avoided any longer if Kovalev wanted to keep that belt.
Pascal (29-3-1, 17 KO) is looking to bounce back from his March 14 loss to Kovalev, where he was spirited but stopped in an entertaining eight rounds. If he wins tonight, he may be able to secure a rematch with Kovalev, as it could be the biggest fight out there for the 32-year-old Haitian-Canadian, and for Kovalev. Gonzalez (16-0, 12 KO) is a bit of an unknown, a Cuban fighter now based in Miami, who has been facing club fighters for the last five years. This is a huge step up for the untested fighter.
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Sergey Kovalev def. Nadjib Mohammedi by TKO (2:38 of round 3)
Jean Pascal def. Yuniesky Gonzalez by unanimous decision (96-94, 96-94, 96-94)
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ROUND BY ROUND
SERGEY KOVALEV vs NADJIB MOHAMMEDI
Round 1: Mohammedi poking his jab out there and trying to keep Kovalev off balance. Kovalev with a good jab and then a body shot. Kovalev jab jab jab jab, really dominating the round even though Mohammedi doesn't have a bad plan here. Kovalev 10-9
Round 2: Kovalev slips in the corner, Mohammedi thought he had a knockdown. I mean, Blake Caparello got one, so why not get hyped? Mohammedi just flicking the jab in there, being as awkward as he can be. Right hand lands, but then a bomb right from Kovalev hurts Mohammedi, and Nadjib is down. He's up at 8 but there's 1:16 left and his legs are bad. Right hand from Kovalev hurts Mohammedi again, Nadjib trying to hug around the waist. Kovalev shoves him over. Then he basically wrestles him over. Another right catches Nadjib. Right to the body. Mohammedi DOES make it out of this round with trickery. Kovalev 10-8, 20-17
Round 3: Kovalev just throwing right hands now, poking the jab and then following up on it. Mohammedi trying to slip shots and throw little pot shots in there.He just doesn't have the firepower. Right hand, left hook, down goes Mohammedi, and it looks like Mohammedi may have broken his orbital bone. He's up at 9 but Bayless wave sit off. Kovalev TKO-3
JEAN PASCAL vs YUNIESKY GONZALEZ
Round 1: Gonzalez landing a couple of decent rights early. Pascal may have felt those, holds, and now shows a little less careless aggression. Gonzalez with a left hook to the body and he's just chopping away at Pascal, just firing big shots. Wow, Gonzalez is just putting it ON Pascal. Pascal throwing a right hand back. Good action and Pascal is looking a little lost. If he dogged training for this, he's in a heap of trouble potentially. Right to the body by Pascal, a slapping shot. Pascal strays low with a right hand, Tony Weeks not in position to see it. Good first round for Gonzalez. Gonzalez 10-9
Round 2: Pascal might want to start fast in this round and put some fear into Gonzalez if he can. Pascal with a heavy hook about a minute into the round, and THEY ARE THROWING BOMBS! HUGE SHOTS FROM BOTH GUYS! Pascal backing off a bit now and Gonzalez trying to measure him but missing. Gonzalez caught with a counter right, wide open. Gonzalez looking a bit weary as this wears on, but he's moving forward. Pascal 10-9, 19-19
Round 3: Pascal starting to move around laterally while he throws. Gonzalez pins him against the ropes and targets the body, hoping to slow Pascal's legs down. Gonzalez DRILLS him with a right hand with about a minute left. Pascal doesn't even budge. The dude can take a shot. Gonzalez bouncing back nicely this round with better, more precise shots. Pascal, emotional fighter, swings and misses a lot. Gonzalez 10-9, 29-28
Round 4: Gonzalez rolling with right hands now, too. Gonzalez with a hook that thumps Pascal. Gonzalez slowing down but landing harder shots still. Gonzalez slips and falls. He doesn't look fresh, you wouldn't say. Pascal throwing to the body, both guys winging shots to end the round, both landing a couple and missing a lot. Fun round and a good fight so far. Gonzalez 10-9, 39-37
Round 5: Gonzalez poking out a long jab to start this round, maybe looking to control while slowing it down and saving some gas for later in the fight. Pascal's defense is worse than usual, and it's usually pretty bad. Gonzalez just doing the eye-catching stuff. Pascal ducking down constantly and Gonzalez happy to throw chopping rights and make Pascal absorb incidental, strategic rabbit punches. Weeks warns Gonzalez about that with a minute left. Gonzalez 10-9, 49-46
Round 6: Gonzalez's work rate is making it a little hard for Pascal to have great arguments in any rounds. Pascal does clock him with a counter left hook, then tries to open up a bit and has Gonzalez on his heels, but nothing big comes of it. Gonzalez shoots a left uppercut that misses, but pours on the pressure. Uppercut! Uppercut! Pascal with a counter hook and a right hand! WOO! Pascal hurt with 30 seconds to go in the round, then takes himself into the corner to try to buy a moment. Gonzalez pouring it on, Pascal tying up wisely, and then lands a couple shots at the end of the round. Both guys got hurt this round. Pascal 10-9, Gonzalez 58-56
Round 7: Two MONSTER right hands from Pascal, and now he's going to the body a bit. Both guys are just throwing absolute haymakers in there. Science has gone out the damn window. Gonzalez is dog tired but still fighting on the front foot. Pascal moving more in the remainder of the round. Right hand inside from Pascal as they dirty box a bit. Pascal 10-9, Gonzalez 67-66
Round 8: Gonzalez just plowing at Pascal this round, and Pascal is forced to give ground and can't get much going on offense. A lot of hugging from Pascal. Gonzalez digging deep to find some stamina is a problem for him right now. Pascal pot shotting here and there, nothing big. I like Gonzalez close in this round, but could go either way. Definite swing round. Gonzalez 10-9, 77-75
Round 9: This fight isn't necessarily limping to a finish, but it's gasping for air with the finish line in sight. Both guys are half dead in there. Gonzalez may have done enough already to win this fight, or maybe not. I nick this round to him again. Gonzalez 10-9, 87-74
Round 10: Pascal is getting pounded again about halfway into this round. Gonzalez trying to take this fight without question, just throwing his hands and Pascal has to avoid and cover, not getting to throw. Left hook from Pascal. Pascal trying body shots now, but Gonzalez just won't stop marching forward. Both guys throwing again to end the fight, Pascal gets in a clubbing left hook. Gonzalez 10-9, 97-93