Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Bring on Andre Ward.
SAN DIEGO, January 30, 2016 – If Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev established anything with his beatdown of Canadian Jean Pascal in Montreal on Saturday, it was this: his punching skills are exceeded only by his mean streak.
Kovalev (29-0-1, 26 KOs) could have ended his fight with Pascal (30-4-1, 17 KOs) several rounds earlier with a clean knockout punch. Instead, Kovalev felt he had a score to settle. He punished Pascal for what he felt were disrespectful comments with wicked snapping jabs and relentless body shots, punctuated by shots to the head.
Pascal was never officially knocked down in the fight, but after the first two rounds Kovalev started dishing out the serious punishment and there was not much reason to allow it to continue. Pascal’s new trainer Freddie Roach told his fighter after the sixth round he was going to stop the fight. Pascal talked him out of it. Roach told the ringside physician and referee to keep a close eye on Pascal.
Pascal showed heart but little else. He and Roach hadn’t worked together long enough for Pascal to absorb anything new. The outcome was exactly as expected. “With his power, Kovalev neutralized everything I could do,” Pascal said after the bout. Pascal said he had no plans to retire.
Kovalev landed 165 of 412 punches (40 percent) to Pascal’s 30 of 108 punches (28 percent). No, this isn’t a typo. The Twitterverse was gleeful, but there was little to celebrate. This beatdown was unnecessary.
Kovalev’s remaining challenge is to unify the light heavyweight division. The lineal light heavyweight champion is Pascal’s fellow Haitian Canadian Adonis Stevenson. Stevenson has come under criticism for avoiding Kovalev due to contractual issues between promoters and HBO and Showtime. When asked about Stevenson as well as one of boxing’s best pound for pound performers Andre Ward, Kovalev told HBO’s Max Kellerman, “Ward? I’m very happy if this fight will happen. Just take your time …
“Sure, I want to unify all four titles. I would like to fight Adonis Chicken-son,” meaning Stevenson, and followed up with clucking noises.
Stevenson “burst” into the ring, putting on a show for the Montreal fans with his “hold me back!” show. It’s a fight fans would love to see, but the real competition and the real challenge for Kovalev is Ward. Ward is the real challenge for Kovalev with his superior technical skills. He will not allow Kovalev to engage in a brawl with him. Stevenson will have a lot of trouble with Krusher, but it would be an action packed fight while it lasts.
Ward is on the brink of securing a bout on March 16 in Oakland with undefeated Cuban light heavyweight Sullivan Barrera, not thought to be a horribly competitive fight. Barrera’s most significant opponent was Armenian Karo Murat. Barrera’s trainer Abel Sanchez will have a big task on his hands prepping Barrera for the challenge. Ward was ringside in Montreal.
Russian welterweight Dmitry Mikhaylenko (21-0, 9 KOs) remained undefeated with a unanimous 10-round decision over American Karim Mayfield (19-3-1, 11 KOs). It’s an understatement to call it an unappealing fight. Mikhaylenko is a deliberate puncher with a busy work rate to make up for the lack of sheer punching power. He chips away at his opponents, wearing them down rather than taking them out. Against an awkward grinder like Mayfield, it isn’t the sort of fight fans enjoy. Mikhaylenko would like to step up against a bigger name opponent but there isn’t a groundswell of interest for it at this point.
The best fight of the evening wasn’t televised, but it’s worth seeking out on YouTube. Francis Lafreniere (11-5-2, 6 KOs) won a vacant IBF international middleweight title with a 10-round decision over Renan St. Juste (26-5-1, 18 KOs) in a showdown between two local Quebecois fighters. It’s said so often that styles make fights, and when two brawlers with something to prove decide to go to war, it’s fun for the fans to watch. Forget their records, forget their skills level. The entire Bell Centre audience was on its feet by the end of the bout.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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