HBO Boxing Preview: Kovalev vs. Pascal, Mikhaylenko vs. Mayfield
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada HBO World Championship Boxing will televise the rematch between Sergey Kovalev and Jean Pascal for the IBF, WBO, and WBA Light Heavyweight World Titles. They previously fought in March of 2015, in which Kovalev was able to stop Pascal in the eighth round, but was taking some unexpected damage in the fifth and sixth round of their fight.
Undefeated Russian welterweight Dmitry Mikhaylenko will open up the telecast in a welterweight bout against Karim Mayfield. Mikhaylenko was originally scheduled to face Philadelphia boxer Ray Robinson, but a back injury from a car accident forced Robinson to pull out of the bout and allowed Mayfield to jump in as a last minute replacement.
The following is a preview of both of the televised bouts.
Dmitry Mikhaylenko (20-0) vs. Karim Mayfield (19-2-1); Welterweights
Mikhaylenko comes from the same stable of boxers that are managed by Egis Klimas which include Sergey Kovalev as well as Vasyl Lomachenko. While he doesn’t have the same international success as an amateur as Lomachenko, it’s clear from watching him that he has a deep amateur background and is technically sound.
Mayfield didn’t have a full training camp to prepare for this bout and will be six years older than his opponent. Not only is Mayfield thirty five years old, but he also hasn’t fought since November of 2014.
Mikhaylenko will have about a two inch height advantage and a three inch reach advantage over Mayfield. Mayfield has eleven knockouts on his resume while Mikhaylenko only has nine, but three of the past five fights of Mikhaylenko resulted in a stoppage victory, while Mayfield went 3-2 in his past five fights and only scored one stoppage win in those bouts.
Mikhaylenko has fought mainly in Russia, but his past three fights were in the United States. His best victories to date were over Ronal Cruz in Cruz’s hometown of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, former junior welterweight world titlist Johan Perez, and Sechew Powell.
Ring rust will be a factor for Mayfield, and he has losses to Thomas Dulorme and Emmanuel Taylor on his record. His notable victories include Mauricio Herrera, Raymond Serrano, and Steve Forbes.
If Mayfield had a full training camp and wasn’t inactive in 2015 he might have a decent chance at winning on Saturday. But a lengthy bout of inactivity coupled with his advancing age will make it a surprise if he pulls off an upset victory on Saturday.
Sergey Kovalev (28-0-1) vs. Jean Pascal (30-3-1); IBF, WBO, WBA Light Heavyweight Titles
Sergey Kovalev is one of the most feared punchers in boxing and he is heavily rumored to be facing Andre Ward next if he can get by Jean Pascal again.
Kovalev has stopped twenty five of his opponents, and four of his past fights resulted in a stoppage. The only man to take him the distance in his past eighteen fights was Bernard Hopkins, who Kovalev had hurt several times in their match.
Kovalev is only one year younger than Pascal at thirty two years old, but he does have about an inch and a half height advantage on Pascal as well as a short half an inch reach advantage.
Pascal has seventeen stoppage victories on his record, but has recorded only one stoppage win in his past five fights. Pascal also has a slightly more successful amateur career than Kovalev. Pascal represented Canada as a middleweight in the 2004 Olympics. Kovalev never competed in the Olympics, but he did have an amateur record of 195-18 and medaled several times at amateur events in Russia.
Kovalev has the more impressive professional record at this point in their careers. He has beaten the likes of Nadjib Mohammedi, Jean Pascal, Bernard Hopkins, Blake Caparello, Cedric Agnew, Ismayl Sillah, Nathan Cleverly, Gabriel Campillo, and Lionell Thompson.
Pascal has had the privilege of fighting in Canada for most of his big fights. He has defeated the likes of Yunieski Gonzalez, Lucian Bute, Chad Dawson, and Adrian Diaconu. His losses were to Carl Froch, Bernard Hopkins, and Sergey Kovalev.
The scores at the time of the stoppage in their first fight were 68-64 on all three scorecards in favor of Kovalev, and it’s hard to imagine a different result. Pascal did have his moments against Kovalev, but for the most part he was out matched and over powered.
Even though Kovalev is fighting Pascal in his hometown again, the same result should happen on Saturday night.