Sergey Kovalev and Jean Pascal tipped the scales on Friday afternoon for tonight’s rematch at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec.
The 6-foot Kovalev (28-0-1, 25 KOs) weighed 174.6 pounds and the 5-foot-10 Pascal (30-3-1, 17 KOs) went 174.3 pounds for their light heavyweight showdown.
In their initial bout at the same venue in March 2015, Kovalev earned an eighth round technical knockout over Pascal to successfully defend the WBA, IBF and WBO light heavyweight world titles. Kovalev battered Pascal from the outset and grounded the Canadian challenger for the first time in his career in the third round.
However, Pascal exhibited great testicular fortitude, remained competitive, and even managed to stun Kovalev on a few occasions. Ultimately, despite Pascal’s valiant showing, Kovalev landed two savage rights and referee Luis Pabon wisely stopped the contest at 1 minute, 3 seconds of the decisive frame.
Racial tensions have marred the buildup to this sequel. Pascal, a Haitian who resides in Quebec and idolized Roy Jones Jr. as a teenager, has accused Kovalev of being a racist for past comments toward him and Montreal’s Adonis Stevenson. It is worth noting that Kovalev’s trainer, John David Jackson, is an African-American.
“Kovy, do you want a banana? You’re white. I know you’re white, and it’s only for black people,” said Pascal, 33, who won a unanimous decision over legendary prizefighter Bernard Hopkins in May 2011. “Do you want to take it for your black coach? He might want to eat it because he’s black. You want to keep it for your black coach?”
Pascal had the audacity to bring a handful of bananas to Wednesday’s final news conference. Kovalev didn’t appreciate Pascal’s incendiary antics.
“I hate (Pascal),” said Kovalev, 32, a Russian who earned the 2014 USA TODAY Sports’ Fighter of the Year. “Pascal is a trash talker. I don’t care what he says because it’s just trash from his mouth. He starts speaking trash to [make me] lose my mind and make me nervous. He will pay for this in the ring. Believe me. I am going to make him pay for this. It is a more personal fight.”
Since their first meeting last spring, Kovalev brutally finished Nadjib Mohammedi in the third round and Pascal unanimously outscored Yunieski Gonzalez on the same card on July 25. Nicknamed the “Krusher,” the powerful Kovalev has now prevented 86% of his opponents from hearing the final bell.
Comparatively, Pascal, who persuaded Freddie Roach to work with him for this contest, is a solid pugilist with a granite chin. Unfortunately for Pascal, Kovalev is a unique bruiser who looks more dominant than ever.
In a somewhat exciting “personal fight,” expect Sergey Kovalev to punish Jean Pascal before stopping him within 18 minutes later this evening.