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The Québec Scene: #KovalevPascal II Just a Few Weeks Away…


By Hans Olson

The Freddie Factor:

When Jean Pascal tabbed Hall of Famer Freddie Roach as his new charge late last year, many wondered exactly why. On the surface, it wouldn’t appear that Roach can do much for a fighter in his early 30s, a fighter who many feel is worse for the wear and who has had the same team around him since the amateurs.

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With Jean Pascal, however, much of that can be deceiving.

Yes, Pascal is in his 30s, and although he has had to deal with a few wars in his career, along with injuries and inactivity, he may not be as shopworn as people assume. He just needs to box naturally.

“I thought [Pascal] was looking for a knockout too much and he can’t do that,” said Roach while at his Wild Card Gym in Hollywood yesterday. The famed trainer was speaking to a media gathering and discussing Pascal’s eight round TKO stoppage loss to light-heavyweight king Sergei Kovalev in early 2015.

“You go out there and box. Use your boxing ability. Beat this guy every round at a time. If a knockout comes that’s a bonus. He totally understands that. I told him if you go out there and start swinging for the fences and get real wild like you can do at times, when you get back to the corner I won’t be there. I’m going to go home.”

It might be interesting for some to hear something like that from Freddie, given his offensive mindset. We’re used to early knockout predictions, and destructive trash talk. We’re not used to Freddie talking like this.

“The same strategy won’t work,” added Roach.

“Both guys have smartened up. Maybe the fight was stopped too soon, but referees are there for a reason, to protect the fighter and so forth. We’re not going to blame the referee at all. In world title fights I think there is a little more judgment or a little more give because it is a world title fight but I don’t see how that could even get close to happening in this fight because his boxing ability is really, really good. That is what I intend for him to do.”

Perhaps that’s exactly what Pascal needs.

“I like Freddie. Freddie is a good man. He is a great boxing coach,” said the former WBC light heavyweight champion.

“One thing that I like about Freddie is he is a coach who like to listen. He is gonna ask me question. He is going to try to see my point of view. He gonna explain to me his point of view. He has a good ear. He has great experience and that is the quality of a good coach. I am my own boss. I need a partner. Freddie is the right partner right now.

“I am a veteran. I went to the Olympics. I became world champion. I am about to become two-time world champion in a few weeks. I need more like a partner to evolve than a boss.”

Certainly Roach won’t be able to reinvent the wheel with the Laval, Quebec native, but with a few small changes, big things could happen.

“A few things went wrong {in the first fight] but they were very like minor details. Right now we have corrected those mistakes so I can be victorious on Jan. 30,” Pascal explains.

My mental [attitude] is very strong. I am physically strong. I am very confident. I am well-prepared physically and mentally. Freddie has the eye of the tiger. He see things. That is the goal right now to correct my small mistakes that I did on the first fight. That is why I think this time around I am going to be victorious.”

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On HBO’s undercard for #KovalevPascal2, Russian welterweight Dmitry Mikhaylenko was originally set to face Philadelphian Ray Robinson in a 10-round co-feature. However, Robinson suffered a back injury in a car accident last week and had to withdraw from the bout. Mikhaylenko will remain on the card, though it’s likely he won’t be fighting on HBO’s telecast with such a short amount of time available to find a suitable replacement.

As far as the rest of the undercard goes, a wealth of local and international talent will be in action. Starting things off, local prospect Steven ‘Bang Bang’ Butler (13-0-1, 11 KO) will meet Angola’s Antonio Hoffmann (13-0, 9 KO).

“I am presently in camp in the United States for my bout against Hoffman and I am in great shape,” said Butler in a Main Events/Interbox presser. “I’m pumped for this fight and I look forward to it, as well as to all the challenges 2016 will bring me. I have lofty goals and I intend to impress the crowd at Bell Centre on January 30.”

Other fights on the night include Sorel’s David Théroux (8-1, 5 KO) facing Mexican boxer Juan Armando Garcia (12-2-2, 5 KO) in a six-round middleweight bout; , Sébastien Bouchard (11-1, 4 KO) will be in action to fight Poland’s Damian Mielewczky (9-1, 7 KO); and Repentigny’s Renan St Juste (26-4-1, 18 KO) is set to battle with Coteau-du-Lac’s Francis Lafreniere (10-5-2, 6 KO) in a scheduled 10-round affair.

Additionally, Lithuania’s Virgilijus Stapulionis, American Joel Diaz Jr., and Russian Vislan Dalkhaev are also scheduled to appear on the undercard.

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