by Hans Olson
One of the most talented and charismatic fighters in the Light Heavyweight division, Jean Pascal took his talent to the top with a marquee victory over the previously undefeated Chad Dawson in August of 2010. His two bouts with the legendary Bernard Hopkins were smash-hits; sell-out crowds in Quebec City and Montreal roared in support of their local hero as the rest of the boxing world took notice. The second fight drew HBO’s largest rating since 2009, and even in a losing effort—Pascal proved his mettle with a spirited effort. In an exclusive interview, Boxing Insider caught up with Jean Pascal, whose focus is now sharper than ever.
Boxing Insider: How have things been the past few months? Are you back in training?
Jean Pascal: Things have been going extremely well. I always stay in basic shape as opposed to some boxers who allow their weight to balloon out. From the last fight I am presently working on a few technical weaknesses with my coach Marc Ramsay so that I can continue to evolve as a boxer. Though formal training doesn’t really start until we set our target on the next opponent, rest assured I am keeping myself busy.
Boxing Insider: If you could do something different in either fight with Hopkins, what would it be?
Jean Pascal: The beauty about fights is that they offer lots of opportunity to really learn something about yourself and your opponent. In Bernard Hopkins there was no surprise that I was taking on a very tough challenge. There are few boxers through our sport’s history who are really students of the sweet science. Bernard is a master of the boxing game. His ring generalship is amazing and it is something I am looking to devote myself to. In terms of my own efforts in both Hopkins fights, I think there were strengths, especially and also very late in both fights where I surged. What I took away from both fights was a need for more focus in the fights, because work ethic comes from focus. I have for the most part in the past had a solid focus from the beginning to the end of the fights, such as in the fights with Diaconu, Branco, and Dawson. I will be that consistently focused from bell to bell in my next fight.
Boxing Insider: You still have great fan support…when can we expect you back in the ring? October or December?
Jean Pascal: The province of Quebec supports its fighters like no other region. The fans are passionate about boxing and they are also well educated. I am presently working with my team and there will be an announcement shortly with an exact date and an opponent. Rest assured, there will be another fight in 2011 for me and I will be ready at the bell.
Boxing Insider: What is your opinion of the Hopkins/Dawson fight?
Jean Pascal: Styles make fights. On one level, it would be great if Bernard out boxes Dawson and continues onward in historic journey as a legendary boxer. On the other hand, wouldn’t it be interesting if Chad blows through Bernard, leaving the public to wonder who really is the King of 175 pounds? Like you, I will be watching the fight with interest, and I will be watching it closely.
Boxing Insider: Names that have been put out there for your next fight are Tavoris Cloud, Zsolt Erdei, and Beibut Shumenov. Who would you prefer to fight, and what challenges do you see with each fighter?
Jean Pascal: I like all three names you have listed above and we have been discussing each one as a potential opponent. Cloud is an undefeated fighter with tremendous punching power. I think he brings that to the table, which could make for a very exciting fight. Erdei has gone up and down in weight and has won compelling fights at Light Heavyweight and Cruiser weight. He is a technically skilled boxer, which would bring a very different sort of question in terms of challenge. Shumenov is also a solid boxer and title holder. He definitely comes forward to fight. Each of these opponents brings his own strengths and weaknesses to the table. When we settle in on the next opponent, we will look to neutralize his strengths and exploit his weaknesses. Though these boxers are undoubtedly looking to get through me to fight the winner of the Hopkins – Dawson fight, I will be looking to get through them also!
follow Boxing Insider’s Hans Olson on Twitter @hansolson