Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada– After a dull and listless two-fight televised undercard, Saturday night’s HBO main event provided fans with all the action they could handle as IBF/WBA/WBO champ Sergey Kovalev (27-0-1, 24 KOs) stopped former world titlist Jean Pascal (29-3-1, 17 KOs) in eight thrilling rounds.
In a way, both main event fighters got what they needed, though.
Kovalev got another marquee victory to add to his resume, this one against someone widely regarded as the top light heavyweight in the world not named Kovalev or Adonis Stevenson.
Pascal, even in defeat, won some measure of career redemption with a gutsy effort that served to dispel the idea that he had degenerated into a round-stealing junk fighter with little to no ring IQ.
As for the fight, itself, Kovalev was clearly in command for most of the evening, scoring a knockdown at the end of the third round that literally had a stunned Pascal teetering on the ropes. The bell would save Pascal from an early TKO.
Following that third round knockdown, Pascal’s legs would never be the same. To his credit, though, Pascal managed to survive by proving himself too dangerous to completely bum rush. Kovalev, as much as he wanted to close the show, had to be careful of a Pascal who was throwing big bombs with bad intent.
The Russian bruiser then fell back to his more clinical side and worked behind a sharp jab and straight left to the midsection to keep Pascal at a safe distance and to set up his own power shots.
In the eighth round, a series of heavy shots rattled Pascal and pushed him into the corner, where Kovalev pursued in search of the stoppage. A slip on the wet canvas while Kovalev was in pure closer mode saved Pascal for a couple of seconds.
But immediately after having the action resume, Kovalev pounced on a still-wobbled Pascal in the neutral corner. After two unanswered shots from Kovalev, referee Luis Pabon stepped in to wave off the bout, much to the dismay of Pascal’s hometown crowd.
Although Pascal came away the loser on Saturday night, efforts like his rarely go unrewarded. Pascal will retain his popularity at home and will likely retain his status as a true Top Five light heavyweight worthy of another big payday.
Meanwhile, Kovalev heads off to what should be a relatively easy mandatory defense against Nadjib Mohammedi. His big win on Saturday also earned him the WBC diamond belt and a WBC pledge to get him a big money showdown with WBC titlist Adonis Stevenson in the immediate future.
On the undercard:
Vyacheslav Glazkov (20-0-1, 12 KOs) scored a controversial unanimous decision over Steve Cunningham (28-7, 13 KOs) in a twelve-round heavyweight bout by scores of 116-112, 115-113, and 116-112.
Isaac Chilemba (24-2-2, 10 KOs) outclassed unbeaten Russian prospect Vasily Lepikhin (17-1, 9 KOs) in a ten-round light heavyweight bout by scores of 99-91-99-91, and 100-90.