In what turned into an ugly beating, Sergey Kovalev dominated and stopped Jean Pascal after seven rounds tonight in Montreal, retaining his WBA, IBF, and WBO light heavyweight titles in their HBO rematch.
10 months ago, Kovalev beat a spirited Pascal in a very entertaining fight at the same venue, but tonight was a different story. Kovalev landed a shot that should have resulted in a knockdown in the first round, but it was ruled a slip by referee Michael Griffin. From there, Pascal (30-4-1, 17 KO) did land a good shot here and there, largely with his left hook, but never put any punches together in combination, and had no consistency to his attack. In other words, he was Jean Pascal, as usual.
Meanwhile, Kovalev (29-0-1, 26 KO) battered Pascal to the body, landed a lot of chopping right hands to the head, and used his jab between the more punishing stuff to keep Pascal off balance. By the fourth round, Pascal, 33, looked pretty much finished. In fact, you could have reasonably scored the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh rounds of this fight 10-8 for Kovalev without knockdowns. They were that lopsided.
From the fifth round on, Pascal was offering basically no resistance, as Kovalev, 32, toyed with him, doing just enough to keep damaging him, but seemingly holding back somewhat from going for a clean finish, something he admitted to after the fight. It was starting in the fifth round that referee Michael Griffin could have stepped in at any number of points and saved Pascal from himself, but he never did.
After six rounds, Pascal's new trainer Freddie Roach told the fighter he was going to stop it, but ultimately allowed Pascal back out for the seventh, telling Griffin to "please keep a close eye on him," and saying that if Pascal went to the ropes again, he would stop the fight himself. Pascal stayed off the ropes, but absorbed more punishment in the seventh round. After the round, Roach did stop the fight, and would hear no argument from Pascal this time, though one did not come, either. Pascal was a truly beaten man, and had been for a while.
"This was a personal fight, because Pascal is a special person. I mean that he is not polite with anybody. He doesn't respect fighters. He doesn't respect anybody. In Montreal, everyone said to me, kick his ass," Kovalev said to HBO's Max Kellerman after the fight.
The Russian champion then showed a truly sadistic side, saying, "I wanted to extend the rounds and punish him more. I stopped him before the eighth round. He lost the bet. $50,000. I don't respect him at all, and I never will."
Kovalev then called out Adonis Stevenson, referring to him as "Adonis Chickenson" and then quacking like a duck. Stevenson, who had been seated in the front row, jumped into the ring to make a show out of it all, but this was no Fury-Wilder, and was shut down pretty quickly.
"Kovalev is a great champion. I will be back. Don't worry," Pascal offered after the pull-apart.
Kovalev had a statistically dominant performance, not that you need stats if you saw the fight. He landed 165 of 412 punches (40%), compared to a paltry 30 of 108 (28%) from Pascal.