Sergey Kovalev may have won the rematch against rival Jean Pascal last night, but the real hero is Pascal’s trainer, Freddie Roach, for stopping the fight at the end of the 7th round to save his fighter from further punishment.
Kovalev (29-0-1, 26KO) started the fight same way he began the first fight last March by unleashing jabs to the body to set-up devastating combinations. Pascal (30-4, 17KO) began more cautiously, but after a few rounds it became clear he was largely resorting to looking for one big punch to change the tide.
Pascal managed to land some hard left hooks on Kovalev, but the champion took them well and landed just enough shots to punish Pascal for daring to attack him. Kovalev lived up to his promise to punish Pascal when he landed a thunderous right hand which nearly knocked the challenger down. Kovalev calculated how hurt Pascal was and backed off just enough to let Pascal recover from the shot.
Following the end of the 6th round, Roach was moments away from stopping the fight to protect his fighter, but Pascal persuaded him to let him have one more round. In the 7th, Pascal did little more than throw an occasional jab while taking more punishment from Kovalev. Roach did the humane thing and stopped the fight at the end of the round.
Immediately after the bout, Kovalev told HBO’s Max Kellerman he would face super middleweight champion Andre Ward and even called out lineal light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson. Referring to Stevenson as “Adonis Chickenson” and proceeding to make chicken sounds, Stevenson rushed the ring and attempted to altercate Kovalev, but the two were separated by security.
Given the absurd politics which exist in boxing at the moment, a bout between the two best light heavyweights is extremely unlikely. For now, I’ll look forward to the eventual matchup between Kovalev and Ward.
On a final note, more trainers should treat their fighters like Roach did with Pascal. One fight is simply not worth a man’s entire life.