By Keith Idec
Jean Pascal wasn’t the least bit surprised Eleider Alvarez knocked out Sergey Kovalev.
Pascal and Alvarez are friends, but Pascal shared the ring with both men and knew Alvarez was more than capable of defeating the former light heavyweight champion. Alvarez came back from deficits on all three scorecards to drop Kovalev three times and knocked him out in the seventh round to win the WBO 175-pound championship August 4 in Atlantic City.
“I knew Alvarez had all the tools to beat Kovalev,” Pascal told BoxingScene.com on Wednesday. “He’s tall, he has long arms, he has a great jab, he has good skill. And also, he has the coach to beat Kovalev. Marc Ramsey’s been there twice with Kovalev already, so he knew him very well. So Alvarez had everything on his side to beat him.”
Pascal will fight Saturday night at the same venue where Alvarez upset Kovalev 3½ months ago. The 36-year-old Pascal, of Laval, Quebec, will challenge Kyrgyzstan’s Dmitry Bivol for Bivol’s WBA light heavyweight title at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino’s Etess Arena in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Pascal will attempt to become a two-time light heavyweight champion following two losses to Kovalev and a defeat to Alvarez.
Russia’s Kovalev (32-3-1, 28 KOs) stopped Pascal in each of their fights at Bell Centre in Montreal – an eighth-round technical knockout in March 2015 and a TKO following the seventh round in January 2016. The former WBC light heavyweight champ fared better against Alvarez (24-0, 12 KOs), who topped Pascal by majority decision in their 12-round bout in June 2017, also at Bell Centre.
“I’m not taking anything away from Alvarez,” Pascal said. “But when I faced Kovalev, I wasn’t me 100 percent. I didn’t get my confidence back, like I have right now. I think I have my confidence back now. When I faced Kovalev, I wasn’t sure of my skill. So I think that he took advantage of that to beat me.”
After their two fights, Pascal respects Kovalev’s power. He still thinks the Colombian-born, Quebec-based Alvarez will beat Kovalev again in their rematch February 2 at Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas (ESPN).
“Definitely,” Pascal said when asked if Alvarez will beat Kovalev again. “What you can do once, you can do it twice.”
HBO will air the bout between the heavily favored Bivol (14-0, 11 KOs) and Pascal (33-5-1, 20 KOs, 1 NC) as the main event of a “World Championship Boxing” doubleheader. It’ll start at 10 p.m. ET with a 10-round, super bantamweight bout that’ll match 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.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.