By Chris Cella
In his return to the squared circle following a 19-month layoff, former WBC light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal (27-2-1, 16 KO) faced obstacles he didn’t expect to encounter in his “tune-up” fight against former Polish Olympian Aleksy Kuziemski (23-6, 7 KO), namely an injured shoulder that prevented him from throwing his left hand effectively.
Starting slow, Pascal lost the first two rounds of the ten round fight as Kuziemski came out unrelenting, wanting to make a point that he deserved his shot against the former champion. But in the third round, Pascal found his rhythm and comfort level, and settled into the fight, landing shots at will.
As the former champion was getting into his groove and appeared ready to break out in the fight, he injured his left shoulder as his left hand got caught up on one of the ring advertisements. Though it didn’t seem too debilitating at the time, the injury changed the pace of the fight.
Going forward, Pascal was unable to utilize his jab and left hook, leading to him fighting in the southpaw stance at times through each round.
Kuziemski recognized his opportunities against the one-armed fighter, and despite bringing all he had to the table, Pascal was able to strengthen his straight and overhand right to keep his opponent at bay.
There were times through the latter rounds where it appeared Kuziemski was going to capitalize on the opportunity of fighting the one-armed former champion, but as he came forward he repeatedly walked into Pascal’s power rights.
Ultimately this fight was a tune-up fight for Pascal to get his ring presence back and get some rounds under his belt before he faced light welterweight champion Chad Dawson in a rematch in March of 2013, but the former champion found himself in a street fight to avoid the upset.
But like the champion he has proven to be in the past, he found a way to fight through the adversity, overcoming his injury in securing the unanimous decision.
The biggest question following the fight is whether or not the injury is severe enough to put a halt on the rematch against Dawson in March.
Jean Pascal came into this fight on a mission—to prove that he could come back following his 19-month layoff and show that he is ready to compete for a world title.
Despite the injury sustained early in the fight, Pascal showed the drive and determination needed to once again raise the belt, and if he is healthy enough to bang with Dawson in March, fight fans will be in for a riveting show.
Leading up to the main event, Canada’s own David Lemieux stopped Albert Ayrapetyan in the second round of their fight.