By Keith Idec
If anyone can speak to who’s who within the light heavyweight division, it’s Jean Pascal.
The former WBC 175-pound champion has fought former Sergey Kovalev twice and the man who recently upset Kovalev, Eleider Alvarez, in recent years. Pascal also fought Chad Dawson and Bernard Hopkins twice during the prime of the Quebec-based star’s career.
The 36-year-old Pascal perceives Dmitry Bivol as the best light heavyweight in their division at the moment. And not just because Pascal (33-5-1, 20 KOs, 1 NC) will challenge Bivol (14-0, 11 KOs) for Bivol’s WBA title on Saturday night at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino’s Etess Arena in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
“Honestly, I don’t think he has been tested yet,” Pascal told BoxingScene.com about Bivol on Wednesday. “But I know for a fact that he is a good fighter. He’s young, he’s fresh. Right now, I think he has the best tools in the division. So that makes him the best fighter in the division. He’s the youngest one and he’s the one with the best tools. And he’s the fresher one as well.”
At 27, Kyrgyzstan’s Bivol is younger than the three other recognized light heavyweight champions.
Adonis Stevenson (29-1-1, 24 KOs), who owns the WBC title, is 41. Alvarez (24-0, 12 KOs), who knocked out Kovalev in the seventh round August 4 to win the WBO title, is 34. And Artur Beterbiev (13-0, 13 KOs), the IBF title-holder, is 33.
Kovalev (32-3-1, 28 KOs), who’ll challenge Alvarez in their immediate rematch February 2 in Frisco, Texas, is 35. Oleksandr Gvozdyk (15-0, 12 KOs), who’ll challenge Stevenson for his championship December 1 in Quebec City, is 31.
Bivol hasn’t beaten any of the aforementioned fighters, but Pascal still considers him the best boxer in their division.
“If you do the math, it’s simple,” Pascal said. “Max Kellerman said Bivol is the man in the division. Max Kellerman said Dmitry Bivol is the best light heavyweight champion right now. If you do the math, if I beat the man, I am the man. So it’s gonna be a big statement for me.”
As highly as he thinks of Bivol, Pascal “definitely” sees weaknesses in Bivol he can exploit Saturday night. Their 12-round encounter will be broadcast by HBO as the main event of a “World Championship Boxing” doubleheader scheduled to start at 10 p.m. ET.
“Nobody’s perfect,” Pascal said. “Even the great Roy Jones was not perfect. Ali wasn’t perfect. Tyson wasn’t perfect. So everybody has weaknesses. But tune in to HBO Saturday night and I’ll show you his weaknesses.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.