By Keith Idec
Jean Pascal pushed his forehead against Dmitry Bivol’s forehead after they weighed in Friday afternoon in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Whether the 36-year-old huge underdog remains capable of pushing the unbeaten WBA light heavyweight champion once they’re in the ring remains to be seen. They’ll fight for Bivol’s title Saturday night in the main event of an HBO “World Championship Boxing” doubleheader from Hard Rock Hotel & Casino’s Etess Arena.
Kyrgyzstan’s Bivol (14-0, 11 KOs) stepped on the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board’s scale at 174¼ pounds for their 12-round, 175-pound title fight. Quebec’s Pascal (33-5-1, 20 KOs, 1 NC) officially weighed in at 174½ pounds and later had to be dragged away from Bivol by New Jersey boxing commissioner Larry Hazzard.
Bivol will make the third defense of the WBA light heavyweight title against Pascal. Internet sports books consistently list the 27-year-old Bivol as at least a 14-1 favorite over the former champion.
The Haitian-born Pascal will attempt to become a two-time light heavyweight champion versus Bivol. Pascal lost the WBC light heavyweight title to Bernard Hopkins by unanimous decision in their 12-round immediate rematch in May 2011.
Since then, Pascal has been stopped twice by former IBF/WBA/WBO champ Sergey Kovalev and lost a 12-round majority decision to Eleider Alvarez (24-0, 12 KOs). Colombia’s Alvarez, who also is based in Quebec, knocked out Kovalev (32-3-1, 28 KOs) in the seventh round August 4 at Etess Arena to win the WBO light heavyweight crown.
Bivol beat Isaac Chilemba (25-6-2, 10 KOs) by unanimous decision in his last fight. That 12-rounder, which HBO broadcast the same night as Alvarez upset Kovalev, lacked action, but Bivol won convincingly on all three scorecards (120-108, 120-108, 116-112).
Pascal has won two straight fights since Alvarez out-boxed him in their 12-round fight in June 2017 at Bell Centre in Montreal.
Pascal stopped previously unbeaten Egyptian prospect Ehmed Elbiali (17-1, 14 KOs) in the sixth round December 8 in Hialeah, Florida. In his last bout, Pascal stopped former hockey player and UFC fighter Steve Bosse (1-1, 1 KO) in the eighth round July 20 at Place Bell in Laval, Quebec.
Murodjon Akhmadaliev and Isaac Zarate also made weight Friday afternoon for their 10-round, 122-pound bout, the opener of HBO’s broadcast Saturday night (10 p.m. ET).
Akhmadaliev (4-0, 3 KOs), a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist from Uzbekistan, weighed in at 121¼ pounds. Zarate (16-3-3, 2 KOs), of San Pedro, California, stepped on the NJSACB’s scale at 122 pounds.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.