Meng Fanlong was so eager to prove himself against an established ex-champion, he was willing to fight Sergey Kovalev at a catch weight of 188 pounds last Saturday night.
Fanlong appeared much more comfortable Thursday morning, though, when he stepped on the Florida Athletic Commission’s scale at 174.6 pounds for his 12-round light heavyweight fight against Jean Pascal. The 34-year-old Fanlong (17-0, 10 KOs) has boxed at or near the light heavyweight limit of 175 pounds throughout his seven-year pro career and took this fight with Pascal once the Kovalev fight failed to materialize.
Quebec’s Pascal weighed in Thursday at exactly 175 pounds. Pascal, 39, will fight for the first time Friday night since the former WBC light heavyweight champion beat Badou Jack by split decision in an action-packed 12-round fight for the WBA world light heavyweight title in December 2019 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.
Pascal (35-6-1, 20 KOs, 1 NC) was supposed to box Jack again last June 6, but he was removed from that 12-round rematch because he tested positive for four performance-enhancing drugs. He’ll thus end a 28-month layoff against Fanlong, a southpaw who represented China at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
The Fanlong-Pascal clash will headline a five-fight card that’ll be streamed by www.ProBoxTV.com from ProBox Events Center in Plant City, Florida, starting at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Fanlong-Pascal isn’t an official eliminator, but Fanlong will risk his number one spot in the IBF’s light heavyweight ratings.
He defeated Germany’s Adam Deines by unanimous decision in an IBF elimination match in June 2019, but his shot at unbeaten IBF/WBC light heavyweight champ Artur Beterbiev, scheduled for March 2020, was canceled at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Deines replaced Fanlong in that bout because Fanlong couldn’t travel to Russia when Beterbiev’s co-promoters, Top Rank Inc. and Group Yvon Michel, rescheduled it for March 2021 in Moscow.
The Russian-born Beterbiev (17-0, 17 KOs) stopped Deines (21-2-1, 17 KOs) in the 10th round at Khodynka Ice Palace.
Fanlong most recently outpointed Los Angeles’ Israel Duffus (20-8, 17 KOs) unanimously in a 10-rounder that took place October 29 at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Florida.
The official weights for the four Fanlong-Pascal undercard fights, all part of ProBox’s “Last Chance Tournament,” are listed below.
Zhiming Wang (11-3, 3 KOs), Wuhan, China, 139.4 pounds vs. Joseph Fernandez (12-1, 4 KOs), St. Petersburg, Florida, 139.6 pounds, 8 rounds, junior welterweights.
Kendo Castaneda (17-5, 8 KOs), San Antonio, 140.2 pounds vs. Sonny Fredrickson (21-5, 14 KOs), Toledo, Ohio, 139.6 pounds, 8 rounds, junior welterweights.
Michael Dutchover (15-2, 10 KOs), Midland, Texas, 139.8 pounds vs. Clarence Booth (21-4, 13 KOs), St. Petersburg, Florida, 138.8 pounds, 8 rounds, junior welterweights.
Antonio Moran (26-5-1, 19 KOs), Mexico City, 139.6 pounds vs. Jeffrey Torres (10-1, 6 KOs), Philadelphia, 139 pounds, 8 rounds, junior welterweights.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.