Boxing’s ongoing search for its “most dangerous fighter” continues with Russian light-heavyweight sensation Sergey Kovalev rematching the formidable Jean Pascal on January 30th of next year. The two met back in March of this year where the pair squared off in a high-speed, high-action and high-drama bout where Kovalev snatched a KO victory in the 8th round. Some observers will argue, however, that the bout was prematurely stopped and that Pascal actually scored a knockdown moments before the bout was called off. If there was ever a need to finish an unsettled score, this is it.
Perhaps adding fuel to the fire, Pascal has also come out and called Kovalev a “racist” for an antic he pulled earlier this year where he posted a picture of his son on Twitter wearing a shirt of a monkey sporting boxing gloves coupled with the caption, “Adonis looks great!”. Kovalev was of course referring to WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson, who for all intents and purposes, is the real light heavyweight fight that fans want to see, but promotional politics have prevented the bout from happening. Kovalev has since removed the picture and issued a public apology, citing ignorance to cultural norms as his excuse. The reason seems somewhat plausible since Kovalev has hardly integrated into American society and was likely unaware of the offensive such imagery could cause.
Pascal, however, has used the controversy to fuel the upcoming rematch between the two and is now claiming a bigger motivation in facing the Russian this upcoming year.
"He's a racist. This fight's personal. I'm fighting ignorance. He's an ignorant guy to still be racist in 2016. Those things have no place in society. We need to teach this Russian a good lesson. I'm not trying to play the racist card. He's just a racist."
Pascal, at age 33, has just come off an impressive victory over the previously undefeated Yunieski Gonzalez and shows plenty signs of competitive life in the ring. He has also made another major move by switching out trainer John David Jackson for the world-renowned Freddie Roach. From Manny Pacquiao to Miguel Cotto, Roach has been famous for turning around the careers of high profile fighters, so it will be interesting to see how the two pair up come January. Kovalev has also come off an impressive third round stoppage of Nadjib Mohammad on the same card in which Pascal fought Gonzalez, and it is always an event anytime “The Krusher” steps into the ring. Though fans are all secretly waiting for a showdown against Stevenson or Andre Ward, the matchup against Pascal serves as a decent filler while the political complications get worked out between the camps.
Some will say that there is no need for a rematch since Kovalev so thoroughly dominated in the first match, but I disagree. Of all the contenders currently in the light heavyweight division, there is still plenty of fight left in Pascal for him to be a live underdog, and this is a decent fight to be made. On January 30th, we may see a new light heavyweight champion crowned, or the continued campaign of Kovalev vying for the top spot as the sport’s “most feared”.
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