By Keith Idec
Dmitry Bivol hasn’t necessarily said nor done anything that indicates he doesn’t consider Jean Pascal a legitimate threat to his light heavyweight championship reign.
If the heavily favored Bivol believes, though, that this 36-year-old version of Pascal cannot beat him Saturday night, Pascal is certain it’ll cost Bivol dearly. Most Internet sports books list Kyrgyzstan’s Bivol (14-0, 11 KOs) as at least a 14-1 favorite versus Pascal (33-5-1, 20 KOs, 1 NC) entering their 12-round fight for Bivol’s WBA 175-pound championship.
Pascal reminded those that have counted him out in this HBO “World Championship Boxing” main event that he has overcome comparable odds in the past.
“This is the story of my life, to be the underdog,” Pascal said during a recent conference call. “I was the underdog when I faced Chad Dawson. At the time he was considered as the best, pound-for-pound, in the world. I was the underdog, 14-1 – I won the fight. So to me, the underdog is maybe, it's a motivation. But I know what to do. I know what I’m capable to do as well. I have a lot of experience, been there, done that. So I’m going to do my best to win this fight.”
The difference, of course, is Pascal was 27 and a much fresher fighter when he defeated Dawson (then 29-0) by technical decision in August 2010 at Bell Centre in Montreal. The Quebec-based Pascal has since lost a unanimous decision to Bernard Hopkins in their rematch 7½ years ago, suffered two technical-knockout defeats to Sergey Kovalev and dropped a majority decision to Eleider Alvarez in their June 2017 bout.
Pascal considers the unbeaten Bivol the best of the current light heavyweight champions (https://www.boxingscene.com/pascal-bivol-still-untested-best-fighter-division--133957). One of Bivol’s best characteristics, according to Pascal, is that he’s too smart to take even an aged opponent lightly.
“Honestly, I really don’t know that because I’m not in his mind,” Pascal said. “But like I said, I know that Bivol knows me very well. I know him very well as well. And so, if he does overlook me, that would be a big mistake. But I know he has a strong team. He’s young, but I know he’s a smart fighter and a smart guy, too. So I don’t think he takes me lightly.”
HBO’s broadcast will begin at 10 p.m. ET Saturday. In the opening bout, Murodjon Akhmadaliev (4-0, 3 KOs), a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist from Uzbekistan, and Isaac Zarate (16-3-3, 2 KOs), of San Pedro, California, are set to square off in a 10-round, super bantamweight bout.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.