Though he entered the fight as an underdog, the thought of a 35-year old Jean Pascal upsetting then-unbeaten light heavyweight prospect Ahmed Elbiali wasn’t all that unreasonable.
The idea of one of the most popular fighters to ever come out of his career ending his career in the parking lot of a Miami racetrack, however, was something many refused to believe.
At the time, it was to be the case for Pascal, who was believed to be in the twilight of his memorable career by that point and—quite frankly—fed up with the politics of the sport.
“What changed, I was tired of being the underdog. I know my worth,” Pascal (35-6-1, 20KOs) admitted of his mindset at the time, during his appearance on Time Out with Ray Flores on the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) Instagram Live channel. “At the end of that fight, it was clear to stay retired.”
Those plans lasted less than a year, as the former lineal light heavyweight champion decided to make another run. A tune-up win in July 2018 was just enough to shake the cobwebs and allow adviser Greg Leon to secure him one more major title shot, a crack at unbeaten light heavyweight beltholder Dmitry Bivol. Pascal dropped a lopsided 12-round decision in their November 2018 clash, though still believed the comeback served a far greater purpose than to bow out following such a letdown along the Atlantic City Boardwalk.
“[A]t the end of the day, I said ‘You know what, Jean? You still have some gas in the tank.’ At the end of my career, I didn’t want to have no regrets, to ever say if I should have done this or that,” Pascal admitted of his desire to continue pushing forward
That decision led to the unlikeliest of comeback stories, scoring two major upset wins in 2019. Pascal overcame a scorecard deficit while also conceding hometown advantage and eight years in age to Staten Island’s Marcus Browne, rallying to score three knockdowns en route to a technical decision win last August at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Pascal claimed a secondary light heavyweight title for his efforts, defending that strap in a thrilling 12-round win over former two-division titlist Badou Jack last December in Atlanta, Georgia.
Both fights came on shows presented by Premier Boxing Champions (PBC), as did his 7th round knockout win over Elbiali at the end of his first career in December 2017.
“My last three fights or four fights, I have been the underdog. This is the story of my life,” Pascal proudly notes. “Every time I fight a PBC fighter, I was the underdog. When I fought Marcus Browne, I was the underdog. When I fought Ahmed Elbiali, I was the underdog. When I even fought Badou Jack, I was the underdog. So to me, to be the underdog is the story of my life.
“[T]hat is why I returned to boxing. Because I wanted to leave… when I leave the sport, I will have done everything and not leave any regrets in the game.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox