by Cliff Rold
30-year old Haitian former WBC and lineal World Light Champion Jean Pascal (27-2, 16 KO) of Laval, Quebec, Canada, returned to the ring after a lengthy layoff on Friday night at the Bell Centre in Montreal, scoring two knockdowns of 35-year old Aleksy Kuziemski (23-5, 7 KO) of Bialystok, Poland en route to a unanimous decision win in ten rounds. The story of the fight was a left arm injury to Pascal in round four that left him fighting one handed the rest of the night. Pascal was slated for a spring shot at current Light Heavyweight Champion Chad Dawson.
Pascal, making his first start since losing the World Light Heavyweight title to Bernard Hopkins in May 2011, came in well over the 175 lb. division line at 181 ½. Kuziemski came in at 177 ¼. The fight was contracted at 180 lbs. The referee was Marlon Wright.
Defensive and calm to begin the fight, Pascal seemed content to give away the opening round as Kuziemski made the bulk of the action. A sizzling right from Pascal stunned Kuziemski in the final thirty seconds, and a lead left moments later just missed to even intentions.
The measured pace of the first round carried over to the second, Pascal gradually increasing his output while staying focused on his defensive posture. In the third, perhaps finding his timing, Pascal opened up more. A hard left landed flush but Kuziemski took it well. Another left later in the round was met by a clean Kuziemski right as the veritable road team stayed on the front foot.
An exchange in the first minute of round four saw Pascal land three lefts and Kuziemski stay landing the right. Pascal tried to launch a left off the ropes after a quick assault from Kuziemski, his glove caught along the ring rope restraints. Shaking his left, Pascal turned southpaw and launched lead right hooks through the remainder of the round.
Back in an orthodox stance, Pascal’s offense remained exclusively right handed, his left used only a couple times as a pawing jab. Despite the setback, Pascal had his best round of the right, tattooing Kuziemski with hard rights and finding a variety of ways to get the shot home.
The impressive one-armed show continued in the sixth, an important scoring round for Pascal with a moment worthy of debate. Late in the frame, referee Wright appeared to call a break. Pascal continued to throw, landing a pair of hard rights. Kuziemski went backwards into the ropes and Wright called a knockdown, issuing the mandatory eight.
After being badly rocked, but not dropped, near the end of the seventh, Kuziemski rebounded in round eight to have his best round since the second. Letting his hands go in combination more often, he was able to land his right hand and limit the chances for Pascal to load up the only shot he had.
Whatever rally Kuziemski mustered up in the eighth faded in the final minute of the ninth, Pascal landing a blistering shot and forcing Kuziemski to hold to keep his balance. Pascal let loose a number of big shots but couldn’t find the one he needed and backed off into the bell.
Pascal iced the decision early in the tenth, a counter right hand dropping Kuziemski. Kuziemski beat the count and Pascal essentially packed it in, opting to circle the ring and run out the clock. The scores came it at a believably lopsided 98-90 twice and a too wide shutout at 100-88.
Time will tell how bad the injury turns out to be, but questions immediately rise about a proposed rematch with Chad Dawson for the spring. The current Light Heavyweight champion is perceived vulnerable after a devastating knockout loss in September against Super Middleweight Champion Andre Ward and Pascal won their first encounter. Whether he can be ready to attempt to regain his title only his doctor will be able to answer.
The undercard featured action in multiple weight divisions.
The careful rebuilding of 23-year old Middleweight David Lemieux (28-2, 27 KO), 160 ¾, of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, continued with his third straight knockout win after losses to contender Marco Antonio Rubio and former titlist Joachim Alcine. The victim, in two round, was 31-year old Russian Albert Ayrapetyan (20-4, 9 KO), 160 ½, of Berlin, Germany.
Lemieux came out on fire from the opening bell, scoring a knockdown with the left and then another set up by a right in the opening round. In the second round, it was a little bit of both. Trapping Ayrapetyan on the ropes, Lemieux landed a snapping left followed by a clean right cross. Ayrapetyan tottered to his left, beating the count and arguing to go on as his corner waved the white towel. Referee Michael Griffin stopped the bout at 1:26 of round two.
28-year old Light Heavyweight Eleider Alvarez (11-0, 7 KO), 178 ½, of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, scored one of the better knockouts of the year and certainly improved on his current #15 rating in the WBO, stopping 32-year old Danny McIntosh (13-4, 7 KO), 179 ¾, of Norwich, Norfolk, United Kingdom, in round eight.
It was the second knockdown in the round for Alvarez and the only one anyone will remember. Crashing home with a vicious right hand, Alvarez stood over McIntosh as he collapsed to his back. McIntosh’s eyes were open but his senses were disconnected from his legs as referee Jean-Guy Brousseau waved off the action at 2:02 of round eight. It was McIntosh’s third consecutive knockout loss.
In a spirited Jr. Lightweight contest, 25-year old Logan McGuinness (19-0, 9 KO), 130, of Orangeville, Ontario, Canada, won a unanimous decision in ten rounds over a game Carlos Manuel Reyes (23-2, 15 KO), 129 ¾, of Mao, Dominican Republic. The referee was Marlon Wright.
McGuiness came into the bout rated #7 by the WBA at 130 lbs. and earned the clear win with two knockdowns, both set up by heavy body shots. Reyes, to his credit, refused to stay down and made it a fight all night but didn’t have the firepower to reverse his fate. The final scores came in at a fair 95-93, 96-92, and 97-91.
Welterweight: Keith Bizier (19-0, 13 KO) UD8 Doel Carrasquillo (16-23-1, 14 KO)
Light Heavyweight: Keith Bizier (6-0, 3 KO) KO3 Atila Nagy (4-6, 3 KO)
Heavyweight: Oscar Rivas (12-0, 7 KO) KO1 Laszlo Peczeli (4-3-1)
Featherweight: Marc Pagcaliwangan (2-0, 2 KO) TKO1 Richard Voros (4-11, 1 KO)
The card was televised in the U.S. on Wealth TV, promoted by GYM Promotions.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]