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Jean Pascal makes retirement official

Jean Pascal has decided to hang up the gloves, joining a long list of fighters who have announced retirements in 2017.

Adonis Stevenson v Andrzej Fonfara 2 Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Former light heavyweight world champion Jean Pascal had already said he was going to retire after his December 8 stoppage win over Ahmed Elbiali, and now the 35-year-old fighter has seemingly made it official, taking to social media on Monday evening to say again that he’s walking away from boxing.

Pascal retires with a record of 32-5-1 (19 KO), his biggest win coming in 2010, when he won a technical decision in an upset over reigning WBC and lineal champion Chad Dawson in Montreal.

Pascal first made real waves back in 2008, when he was still a super middleweight and went to Nottingham, England, the hometown of Carl Froch, to fight for the vacant WBC 168-pound title. Pascal and Froch went to war that night, with Froch winning a deserved decision.

That was the fight that announced Pascal was for real at the higher levels, however. He stayed at 168 for one more fight, a knockout win over Pablo Daniel Zamora Nievas in April 2009, before moving up to light heavyweight, where he made his biggest impact and would remain at least a contender through the rest of his career.

He won a pair of fights in 2009 against Adrian Diaconu, scoring a victory against Italian veteran Silvio Branco between the fights. In 2010, he took Dawson’s undefeated record, with Dawson promising to exercise his rematch clause after the defeat. He never did.

Pascal’s two biggest fights probably came next, however. He defended his championship against the great veteran Bernard Hopkins in December 2010, starting well before Hopkins clawed his way back into the fight and forced a draw over 12 rounds.

They rematched in May 2011, with Hopkins, having learned what he needed to know about Pascal, this time pulling out the win, and famously doing push-ups between rounds at one point.

From there, Pascal was inconsistent, but pretty much always remaining a viable contender for big fights. He defeated Aleksy Kuziemski and George Blades in tune-up fights in 2012 and 2013, then had a big Montreal showdown with former super middleweight titleholder Lucian Bute in January 2014. Pascal won a clear decision.

In 2015, he challenged Sergey Kovalev, and gave a good go of it before being stopped in the eighth round. He scored a controversial decision win over Yunieski Gonzalez four months later, before challenging Kovalev a second time in January 2016. That time, Kovalev flat-out dominated, forcing Pascal to quit after the seventh round.

Another tune-up win led to a fight this past June against eternal WBC mandatory challenger Eleider Alvarez, which Alvarez won. Pascal was then signed up as the advertised B-side to face unbeaten prospect Elbiali on December 8, traveling to Miami for that matchup.

Instead of going out as the veteran helping to make a new star, however, Pascal showed up full of determination, and beat Elbiali when his opponent’s corner stopped the fight in the sixth round.

I’ll remember Jean Pascal as an inconsistent fighter, but one who had some great nights, and made himself a relevant player in the light heavyweight division for the better part of the 2010s. Even now, he could surely land a decent fight if he wanted one, and maybe even a title shot.

But this is a good way to leave the sport, if Pascal indeed does not fight again. In all reality, at his age and with the way the division’s landscape has changed, he has little serious upside. His standing in the division is fine — he’s without question a top 10 fighter at 175 still — but he’s already lost twice to Sergey Kovalev and once to Eleider Alvarez, and he’d be the clear underdog against top contenders or titleholders like Adonis Stevenson (which is a money fight that never happened), Dmitry Bivol, Artur Beterbiev, Badou Jack, Sullivan Barrera, or Oleksandr Gvozdyk.

In other words, there was probably not really anywhere to go but sideways, in fights he’d be expected to win, or down, serving as PBC surely hoped he would against Elbiali, the veteran with some name value losing to a rising new contender. Making the call to go out on a high note is certainly fair enough.

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