By Sean Crose
While many fight fans are looking ahead to what seems to be an inevitable throwdown between Sergey Kovalev and pound for pound bigshot Andre Ward, one former Kovalev opponent has some plans to ruin the party. Jean Pascal may have been beaten soundly by Kovalev in an entertaining bout earlier this year, but he intends to look a lot better when he rematches the light heavyweight kingpin early in 2016.
Indeed, Pascal has been lined up as Kovalev’s next opponent. In order to improve the odds of actually winning the second time around, however, Pascal has brought aboard award winning trainer Freddie Roach. It may prove to be a smart move. For Pascal looked less than stellar during his last fight, when he battled Yunieski Gonzalez for a controversial unanimous decision win.
What’s more, Roach has worked wonders with Miguel Cotto, who he’s been training for a superfight with Canelo Alvarez. The hard working Roach will essentially go right from Cotto-Alvarez to focusing on Pascal-Kovalev II. The question now is, how can improve Pascal enough for the man to win his second scrap with Kovalev when they meet on January 30th?
Truth be told, the Canadian (by way of Haiti) has a fairly illustrious record. He’s beaten Chad Dawson, battled Bernard Hopkins to a draw, and has lost an unheralded classic to Carl Froch. A former legitimate champion in his own right, Pascal has enough experience to last a lifetime.
Sometimes, however, fighters have to be reminded of what made them sharp to begin with. Roach, for instance, reminded Cotto of his once ferocious body attack. The reminder worked nicely for Cotto. Perhaps Roach will be able to get Pascal back to form, as well.
Then again, Pascal is no kid. He’s 33, which makes him far younger than, say, Hopkins, but which also means he’s no longer a fighter on the rise. He’s either in line for a second act here or is well on his way to a slow decline. Then again, maybe Kovalev is something special – a man meant to absolutely dominate the division.
Time will tell of course. In the meantime, Pascal appears nothing if not positive. “I’m quite confident,” the fighter said, “that with Freddie in my corner, I will improve, as did Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto under him.” Sergey Kovalev and his own trainer, John David Jackson, may have something to say about how improved Pascal can become, of course. One thing everyone whose objective should agree on, however, is something that was recently said by Pascal.
“Freddie Roach,” he stated, “is one of the best trainers of all time.”
We’re all about to see exactly how good he is. For most of the time – though there are exceptions – it the fighters themselves, not their trainers, who make or break their performances in the ring. If Roach can help Pascal help himself enough to stun the world this January, it will be another in a long line of high profile success stories.
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