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Elbiali vs Pascal: Fight preview and matchup

Ahmed Elbiali and Jean Pascal meet in a pivotal crossroads fight on Friday.

Ahmed Elbiali

Premier Boxing Champions

Record: 16-0 (13 KO) ... Streak: W16 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 10-0 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 6’0" / 73" ... Age: 27

Thoughts: Ahmed Elbiali is taking a big next step with this fight, or at least trying to, anyway. Born in Egypt, his family came to the United States when he was young, and he turned pro in 2013 after a relatively short amateur career.

In those few years, he’s racked up a good looking record, in that he’s remained unbeaten and stopped most of his opponents. But just recently has he started to test himself at all as far as opponents go, beating Jackson Junior and Christopher Brooker in 2017.

But while those are respectable wins for 15th and 16th professional fights, fight No. 17 offers something entirely different: not a capable journeyman or a knockaround guy known to be durable, but a former world champion in Jean Pascal.

Style-wise, Elbiali can bang, likes to bring pressure, but doesn’t neglect his defense. On paper, that all sounds good, but he’s yet to prove it against someone who really had a serious chance at beating him. And jumping from Junior and Brooker to Pascal is a good-sized leap.

So this is a true proving ground fight for Elbiali. PBC is promoting him as the A-side here, which gives away the idea that they see this not as a step back in the right direction for the veteran Pascal, but as a potential breakout for Elbiali. And all things being fair, of course that’s what they’d want. Of course they’d want the 27-year-old with upside to take care of business and work toward a potential money fight in the next year or two, rather than a 35-year-old whose days at the top are definitely behind him.

Jean Pascal

Sergey Kovalev v Jean Pascal Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

Record: 31-5-1 (18 KO) ... Streak: L1 ... Last 5: 2-3 ... Last 10: 5-4 (1 NC) ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5'10½" / 72" ... Age: 35

Thoughts: It’s been a weird career for Jean Pascal, the former light heavyweight champion of the world. Born in Haiti and fighting out of Quebec for his entire career, he turned pro in 2005, fighting locally for two full years, before he went to Florida and beat Omar Pittman in January 2008.

That fight led to a matchup with Carl Froch, which came 11 months later. It was a hell of a fight, physical and pitting two sort of odd styles, with Froch coming out on top by decision. Pascal moved from super middleweight to light heavyweight in 2009, beating Adrian Diaconu twice that year, as well as Silvio Branco, two solid fighters.

In August 2010, Pascal upset Chad Dawson to win the WBC and lineal championships at 175 pounds. Then came Bernard Hopkins, who went to a hard-fought draw with Pascal four months after the win over Dawson, and beat Pascal in a rematch in May 2011.

You could say Pascal was never really the same after the Hopkins fights, because that’s a thing Hopkins did to a lot of guys in his career, but is that really the case here? Pascal’s always been an odd fighter, a combination of great athletic gifts and sketchy ring IQ, someone who has been, I’d say, an extreme example of styles making fights. For instance, Dawson, despite his own limitations and flaws, was a terrible matchup for Hopkins later on.

Since losing to Hopkins, Pascal has seemed sort of half-in, half-out on his boxing career. He was out of the ring from May 2011 until December 2012, when he came back and beat Aleksy Kuziemski in a tune-up. Another break, and he beat George Blades in September 2013, before a return to a bigger stage in a matchup with Lucian Bute in January 2014.

Pascal beat Bute, then was out 11 months before facing Roberto Bolonti, a fight that ended in the second round in a no-contest. That was a tune-up for Sergey Kovalev, whom Pascal fought hard but was ultimately beaten down by in March 2015. A somewhat controversial win over Yunieski Gonzalez followed four months later — a rare quick turnaround for Pascal — and then a rematch with Kovalev saw the Russian utterly dismantle Pascal in January 2016.

Pascal’s fought twice since then, winning a tune-up fight a year ago, and then losing a majority decision to Eleider Alvarez in June of this year. He’s 35 now, so his best days are behind him, but it seems like his best days have been behind him for a while now. In all reality, Pascal has never been an elite fighter, and now the PBC team are taking the calculated risk that he should be used as a stepping stone for an up-and-coming would-be contender.

Matchup Grade: B-. Maybe it isn’t the most exciting matchup in the world, but there’s nothing wrong with it, either. Pascal isn’t who he was — if he ever really was “who he was,” that is — but he’s the best opponent Elbiali has faced to date. Elbiali is at the point where he might as well start trying to make real forward progress in his career, too, and this is a logical matchup, though not necessarily a “safe” step up. Pascal’s a good sight better than the guys Elbiali has beaten up on so far. So I like this one.


  • Bryant Perrella vs Alex Martin: Perrella, 28, hasn’t fought since a loss to Yordenis Ugas in September 2016, so this is his comeback. He was seen as a good prospect, starting 14-0 (13 KO) before the loss to Ugas, who has been on a good run. Perrella is a tall (6’1”) southpaw with real power at 147 pounds, so you can see why there are still hopes for him to get it going and move up the ladder. Martin (13-2, 5 KO) is a Chicago fighter who won’t give up a ton of size, as he’s 5’10” and has a similar reach to Perrella. But Martin has lost two straight, both to unbeaten prospect Miguel Cruz. This is pretty much must-win for both guys, and in that sense, it’s a nice co-feature on a show like this one. Matchup Grade: C+

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