By Keith Idec
Eleider Alvarez wasn’t spectacular Saturday night, but he was busier and better than Jean Pascal.
The taller, sharper Alvarez out-boxed the former WBC light heavyweight champion to win a majority decision in their 12-round, 175-pound bout at Bell Centre in Montreal. One judge, Richard DeCarufel, scored the fight even (114-114), but judges Rodolfo Ramirez (117-111) and Jack Woodburn (116-112) favored Alvarez’s accuracy and activity during much of the fight.
The Colombian-born Alvarez, a Montreal resident, improved to 23-0. The 34-year-old Pascal, of Laval, Quebec, fell to 31-5-1 (18 KOs, 1 NC) and 2-3 in his past five fights.
Alvarez’s victory was the first of two fights Showtime televised Saturday night. By winning, Alvarez maintained his spot as the mandatory challenger for the winner of the main event Saturday night, the rematch between WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson and Andrzej Fonfara.
“I wanted to do this fight because real champions fight real champions,” Alvarez said through a translator. “I’ve been waiting two years to get a title shot [against Stevenson]. I took this fight so I can really have the title fight, and there’s no doubt about it.”
The 33-year-old Alvarez – a former Pascal sparring partner who is trained by Pascal’s former trainer, Marc Ramsey – has now beaten popular Quebec boxers and ex-champions Lucian Bute (32-5, 25 KOs) and Pascal in back-to-back bouts. Alvarez knocked out Bute in the fifth round February 24 in Quebec City, Canada.
“That was a close fight,” Pascal said. “I think that I won the fight. But that was the judges’ decision, so have to respect the judges’ decision. But I think the fans enjoyed the fight and I’ll try to be back stronger.”
According to Showtime’s unofficial punch stats, Alvarez landed 174-of-508 overall punches, 70 more than Pascal (104-of-369). Alvarez connected with many more jabs (99-of-317 to 26-of-139), but Alvarez and Pascal landed a comparable number of power punches (78-of-230 for Pascal; 75-of-191 for Alvarez).
Alvarez drilled Pascal with a flush right hand to his jaw about 35 seconds into the 11th round, but Pascal took it well. Pascal rallied later in the 11th round, but Alvarez was effective toward the end of it by landing a hard right hand to Pascal’s head as Pascal lunged forward.
Pascal connected with a hard left hook late in the 10th round, when Pascal attempted to steal another round with a late flurry.
Alvarez clipped Pascal with an overhand right and followed up with a right uppercut that snapped back Pascal’s head just before the midway mark of the ninth round. Pascal held for several seconds, but then unleashed several power shots of his own to let Alvarez know he was still in the fight.
Pascal attacked Alvarez’s body during the eighth round and was more active in those three minutes than he had been for most of the fight. None of Pascal’s worked prevented Alvarez from coming forward, though.
Pascal landed a left hook late in the seventh round that moved Alvarez backward. Alvarez shook his head after the punch landed, to signify that he wasn’t hurt.
Alvarez picked apart Pascal with his jarring jab in the sixth round. Pascal landed a couple right hands in that three-minute period, though, and was more active than he was in the previous round.
The taller, sharper Alvarez continued to be the busier boxer in the fifth round. He landed many jabs in that round, as Pascal remained reluctant to let his hands go.
Alvarez and Pascal traded right hands just after the two-minute mark of the fourth round. Alvarez appeared to get the better of that exchange, which also included an accidental clash of heads and left Pascal holding near the ropes. Referee Alain Villeneuve warned Pascal later in the fourth for hitting off a break.
The third round lacked action until Pascal and Alvarez began winging power shots in its final 20 seconds. Both boxers landed solid right hands during that exchange, but neither fighter appeared hurt before the bell rang to end the third.
A round after buzzing Alvarez with a right hand, Pascal was hurt by an Alvarez right hand with about two minutes left in the second round. Pascal held to regain his legs, but Alvarez buckled his legs again and forced him to hold when he landed an overhand right with around 25 seconds remaining in the second.
Pascal cracked Alvarez with a counter right hand that stunned Alvarez with about 30 seconds to go in the first round. The punch landed flush in the middle of Alvarez’s face after Alvarez missed with a right hand.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.