By Luke Furman
Earlier this month, former WBC light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal announced his retirement from the sport.
At one time, Pascal was the number one fighter in the weight class.
Now the division is being dominated by fighters from Eastern Europe, with three of the four major titles being held by dangerous punchers from Russia.
Dmitry Bivol is the world champion under the WBA. Artur Beterbiev, who resides in Canada, traveled over to California last month to capture the vacant IBF world title. And the WBO championship was reclaimed by Sergey Kovalev on the 25th of November.
These are three boxers dangerous and ruthless.
The lone wolf standing on the outside, if Pascal's countryman, current WBC world champion Adonis Stevenson.
All three of the belts were scooped up by Russia boxers after Andre Ward - who held all three belts - announced his retirement from the sport.
Pascal is very familiar with all three of the Russian boxers.
He suffered two defeats at the hands of Kovalev, he used Bivol as a sparring partner, and Beterbiev was his stablemate in the gym.
While he believes Beterbiev is the best fighter of the three, he says Kovalev is the hardest puncher of the three. 2018 will be interested year to watch, if all three Russian punchers will begin to face each other in unification bouts.
"Bivol was my training partner for my second fight against Kovalev. Who has the style that was more complicated for me, it was Kovalev. The best of the three? It's Beterbiev. On the other hand, the one that hits the hardest, it is Kovalev," Pascal told The Montreal Journal.
Pascal (32-5-1, 19 KOs) walked away from the sport back on December 8th, when he traveled over to Florida and turned back the block with a stoppage victory over undefeated, and favored by some to win, Ahmed Elbiali.
Luke Furman covers boxing for bokser.org