Jean Pascal’s Must-Win Situation


by Sean Crose

It’s common to hear that a boxer is in a must-win situation. Take Floyd Mayweather, for instance. Since the man has put so much on his undefeated record, every bout – every single one – from now until the day he finally hangs up the gloves, represents a must-win situation for the man.

Most fighters, however, are not Floyd Mayweather. In fact, most of the time a fighter can do quite well with losses on his or her resume. Wladimir Klitschko, Manny Pacquiao, Bernard Hopkins and Miguel Cotto are all huge names in boxing, yet each man has suffered losses. And let’s not even get started on the old timers.

Still, there are times when a fighter absolutely, positively, finds himself or herself in a “do or die” situation. And Jean Pascal has found himself in the midst of just such a scenario this weekend.

Here’s the thing – the decorated Canadian light heavyweight is set to have a major fight with champ Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev this winter.

However, he first has to get through Roberto Bolonti tonight at the Bell Centre in Montreal. And Bolonti is no joke. Oh, he may not be Kovalev, Adonis Stevenson or Hopkins, but he’s a seasoned pro with a sharp 35-3 record and a solid skill set.

In short, this ain’t a simple tune up fight for Pascal.

pascal-bolonti
Pascal (l) and Bolonti go nose to nose

And if he loses…

To be sure, Pascal should take this one. He’s an aggressive fighter who’s met some of the very best in the business inside of the ring. When names like Hopkins, Carl Froch and Lucien Bute are on your resume, you definitely count as a seasoned pro.

Yet Pascal is not without his flaws – namely that he tends to get gassed. He came damned close to blowing his last fight, one which occurred earlier this year against Bute. Pascal had been dominating the entire affair, then, at the very end, he allowed Bute to come on strong.

Pascal should most certainly not allow such a scenario to play out again.

As for Bolonti, this is truly the opportunity of a lifetime. His record is indeed impressive, but the fact that he’s come up short against notable foes like Tony Bellew and Juergen Braehmer means he’s not as respected as he could be. That could all change tonight in Montreal.

Multiple title holder Kovalev may want to get Pascal in the ring, but he’ll undoubtedly be cheering him on this evening. Pascal is a notable foe and a popular figure in Quebec–where the Kovalev fight will be held–who will present a big money fight in the light heavyweight division. After a period where it seemed like fellow title holder Adonis Stevenson had left him marginalized, Kovalev now has the opportunity to cash in as the most notable figure in his division.

Speaking of being marginalized, this entire affair showcases how quickly the winds of fortune can change in boxing. A year ago, the light heavyweight division was all abuzz over Kovalev meeting big man on campus Stevenson. Pascal, let’s face it, was an afterthought.

Now it’s Pascal who’s the center of attention and Kovalev who’s the big man on campus. As for Stevenson…well, he’s employing a strategy which is either brilliant or ridiculous. Either way, he’s not fighting the big names, which means he’s the one who’s marginalized at the moment.

It’s good to keep in mind, however, that this too could change in the blink of an eye.

Simply put, it’s one of the fun things about boxing – you never know until you know. That’s why, even though Pascal’s expected to win, I’m not going to get too comfortable with the idea of a Pascal-Kovalev match until tonight’s bout is over.

This is boxing we’re talking about, after all.

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