By Keith Idec
There isn’t much pressure on Jean Pascal.
The former WBC light heavyweight champion is a huge underdog entering his fight against Dmitry Bivol on Saturday night in Atlantic City. Pascal is 36 and hasn’t beaten a credible contender in more than three years, not since he out-pointed then-unbeaten Yunieski Gonzalez in the bout between his technical-knockout losses to Sergey Kovalev.
The popular, Quebec-based boxer is motivated, however, to prove that he still can beat an elite-level opponent. If he can pull off an upset in their HBO “World Championship Boxing” main event, the CEO of Pascal’s promotional company believes it would cement Pascal’s status as an International Boxing Hall-of-Famer.
“First of all, I think this win would put Jean in the Hall of Fame, without any question,” Greg Leon said during a recent conference call. “Right now, Jean is looked at as a guy who has a hell of a resume, has fought the best of the best. But for the harshest of critics, he might have lost too many big fights to be a lock. And Jean’s fighting to cement his legacy and his status as a Hall-of-Famer. And a victory on November 24th would certainly do that.”
The Haitian-born Pascal (33-5-1, 20 KOs, 1 NC) has beaten Chad Dawson and Lucian Bute during his 13-year, prosperous pro career. Carl Froch, Bernard Hopkins, Kovalev and Eleider Alvarez also have beaten Pascal in some of his biggest bouts.
Defeating Dawson by technical decision in August 2010 is commonly considered the crowning achievement of Pascal’s career.
Pascal already owned the WBC 175-pound crown when he topped Dawson, but he won that title against Adrian Diaconu, who was undefeated, yet not as well-regarded as Dawson. Beating Dawson, who was undefeated, helped Pascal secure consecutive fights against Hopkins, a 12-round majority draw and a 12-round, unanimous-decision defeat.
Pascal has won back-to-back bouts since Alvarez beat him by majority decision in their 12-rounder in June 2017. The first of those two wins was a sixth-round TKO of Egyptian prospect Ehmed Elbiali (17-1, 14 KOs) on December 8.
Beating Bivol (14-0, 11 KOs) would not only earn Pascal the WBA light heavyweight title, it’d move him into position for another huge fight in Montreal. Adonis Stevenson, the WBC light heavyweight champ, and Alvarez, who upset Kovalev on August 4 to win the WBO title, also are based in the Montreal area.
Stevenson (29-1-1, 24 KOs) is scheduled to make a mandatory defense of his championship December 1 versus Ukraine’s Oleksandr Gvozdyk (15-0, 12 KOs) in Quebec City (Showtime). Alvarez (24-0, 12 KOs) and Kovalev (32-3-1, 28 KOs) will meet in an immediate rematch February 2 in Frisco, Texas (ESPN).
“As far as what would be next [for Pascal],” Leon said, “what’s next right now is November 24th. Obviously, if Jean wins the title, he becomes the cash cow of the division. All of the other champions reside in Canada. Stevenson, by his own choice, hasn’t made fights that the public have been demanding. And Jean’s a star in Canada. So with the belt around his waist, he becomes the guy of the division.
“There’s also history, too, by the way. And anybody on the call could correct me if I’m wrong, but Jean first became champion in 2009. I don’t think 9½ years have passed from one title reign to the other ever in the history of the light heavyweight division.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.