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Targeting the Executioner: Jean Pascal’s plans for Bernard Hopkins

By Damien Norman

There are some huge fights coming up between now and Christmas and the man I am writing about today has one of his own.

WBC Light Heavyweight Champion Jean Pascal defends his title against the legendary Bernard Hopkins on the 18th December in what is a massive fight for him. Although the fight is now a non PPV event this does not take away the importance of this battle for Pascal.

Victory against Hopkins, who turns 46 next year would be a massive achievement for Pascal and give him such excellent exposure. At 46 most fighters are long retired, but Hopkins fights on and to his credit has kept in tremendous shape and continued to turn out a high level of performance inside the ring, only losing to two fighters since 1993! It’s probably worth mentioning that his only defeats between then and the day he turned professional were one on his debut and a decision against Roy Jones JR. “B Hop” has also never been knocked out which tells you that Pascal is fighting against a man that is still very dangerous and has the ability to spoil his plans.

Jean-Thenistor Pascal was born on October 28th 1982 and began Boxing at aged 13, attending the “Club Champions St. Michel Gym”. He also has an older brother (Nicholson Poulard) who became the Quebec Boxing Champion in 1996.

Pascal had his first fight as a professional Boxer at Super Middleweight in February 2005 defeating Justin Hahn. Only 10 fights into his pro career he fought for the Canada Super Middleweight Title and Quebec Boxing Council Title (QCB) against Martin Desjardins. Pascal won the fight, and only a few fights later (and in his first 10 round contest) defeated Darnell Boone to add the Trans American Super Middleweight Boxing Title to his achievements.

It was clear at this point Pascal was the real deal and Boxing enthusiasts from afar were starting to believe in his ability inside the ring.

On September 30th, 2006, at the Montreal Casino Pascal took on Lucas Green Arias for the then vacant WBC Latino Super Middleweight title. Pascal destroyed Arias, but the victory was slightly overshadowed when Arias had to receive oxygen inside the ring and then be stretchered off to hospital. It was later revealed that he suffered a Hematoma.

Still in 2006, and with Pascal’s popularity and fan base soaring he took on and defeated Jermain Mackey to win the WBO NABO Super Middleweight Title, and in March of the following year successfully defended this title against American Lafarrell Bunteng; a victory that would see him take on Christian Cruz for the NABO, NABA and NABF Titles. Pascal defeated Cruz by a 10th round TKO and his next opponent was former World Title challenger Kingsley Ikeke. The anticipation surrounding the bout was that Ikeke would prove a tough test for Jean Pascal but this did not happen with Pascal dominating the majority of the fight to eventually win by UD. Also in 2007 Pascal won fights against Esteban Camou and Brian Norman (in which Pascal had all three Titles on the line).

At this point in Pascal’s career he was proving to be a very tidy and skilful Super Middleweight and the expectation by the fans was that he would be fighting for a major Title in the very near future. With a tough split decision victory over Omar Pitman Pascal finally had his big opportunity to shine. The stage was set, and Pascal would be taking on UK’s Carl Froch for the vacant WBC Title.

The fight was set for 12th December 2008 in Froch’s backyard of Nottingham, UK, and this would be the first time that Jean Pascal had fought in the UK as a professional. The feeling was that Carl Froch had yet to prove himself as being world class and had many flaws that the Skilful Pascal could expose.

Unfortunately for Pascal it was Froch that came out the victor by a unanimous decision but the French/Canadian star Pascal gave a fantastic account of himself, and but for Froch’s superb chin it may of been so different.

With his first loss on the record and confidence dented it was unclear what Pascal would do next but it didn’t take long for Pascal to get back to winning ways. On the 4th April 2009 he took on Pablo Daniel Zamora Nievas for the then vacant WBO Inter-Continental Super Middleweight Title. Pascal won in tremendous fashion and took only 5 rounds to knock out his opponent and scoop the title.

Although Pascal secured this title and put in an impressive performance he decided to make the step up in weight and begin life as a Light Heavyweight. Some Critics accused Pascal as “running” from future opposition in fear of bigger losses however many felt that Light Heavyweight would come more natural to Pascal and he would be very successful at this weight.

His first test at Light Heavyweight saw him compete for the WBC Light Heavyweight title against the undefeated Romanian Adrian Diaconu. Pascal won the fight by UD and became the champ, and two months after this fight was honored by the city of Laval.

After winning the WBC Title, Pascal successfully defended it against the Veteran Italian Boxer Silvio Branco by TKO, knocking him down in round 7 and twice in the 10th which eventually ended the fight. In December 2009 he entered the ring in a rematch with Dianconu which, similar to the first fight he won by UD. Pascal had his own troubles during this fight though and midway through the contest it was clear he was having troubles with his right shoulder. Shortly after the fight Pascal had surgery on the shoulder to repair the injury.

At the end of 2009 and with Jean Pascal’s notable success there for everybody to see he was rated by Ring Magazine as the 65th best Boxer in the world. This meant a lot to Pascal as it was the first time he had ever been on the list (Ring Magazine do a yearly review of their top 100).

In June this year, Pascal signed a major multi million contract with Promoter Groupe Yvon Michel, which would see him make over a million dollars when he eventually defended his WBC Title.

The defense came against the extremely talented American Chad Dawson, which saw Dawson putting his IBO Title on the line and also both battling for the Ring Magazine vacant Title.

Although Pascal dominated all of the early and majority of mid, it was clear that he was tiring towards the end of the fight and was getting caught by Dawson who went into the fight as the favorite. Pascal came out as the eventual winner in the 11th round by technical decision. Unfortunately for Dawson it was an accidental clash of heads that caused a major cut to his right eye which forced the doctor to stop the action, but controversially this wouldn’t have made a difference as the judges scorecards had Pascal as clearly winning at that point.

That was Pascal’s last action inside the ring but as reported above it has been announced that he will take on the legend that is Bernard Hopkins at the end of the year. There is also a lot of anticipation surrounding a possible all Canadian clash between Pascal and Lucian Bute. Although Pascal stated he refused to “chase” Bute, Bute has shown recent interest in moving up weight to make the potential clash happen. There was also an apparent ‘handshake’ between Froch and Pascal for a rematch. Froch allegedly agreed to move up a weight to make the fight happen; something I find interesting as for the whole time Froch “hunted” Joe Calzaghe (or shall we say used his name to drum up publicity) he maintained he would “not fight him at Light Heavyweight… he can come down to Super Middle but not Light Heavy”…

Interesting Carl, very interesting! But anyway, back to Pascal…

Jean Pascal is a top fighter and at only 28 we can expect lots from him. You can certainly envisage an eventual move up to Heavyweight with his physique speed and power, and providing all goes well a bout for the Heavyweight Title in the future. All Boxers want unbeaten records and it is unfortunate for Pascal that he lost his. I certainly don’t feel that Froch was spectacular that night, in fact I don’t feel that he is in any way spectacular. He relies on a very solid chin and this proved to be Pascal’s obstacle in their World Title Clash in 2008.

On thing I agree on that has definitely been widely covered is Pascal’s fitness issue’s. It’s a tough sport, right!?… One of the toughest sports you could have a career in, but Pascal regularly gasses towards the end of fights. Some fighters are naturally gifted in this area and seem to be throwing bombs right to the death of the fight however the bigger you are the harder this is and its clear with Pascal that his punches towards the latter rounds decelerate and significantly lose their sting.

I believe the clash between Pascal and Bute will happen but not until the end of next year, possibly 2012. The rematch with Carl Froch seems likely and you would probably favor the more muscular, harder hitting Pascal at Light Heavy.

His fight in just over a month against Bernard Hopkins is huge and, should he come through this as the winner will see him gain a mass amount of publicity and be the man that ends such a successful career that Hopkins has had. There will inevitably be the critics that put a downer on the victory and downplay it due to the age of Hopkins, but aside from this it will be a massive step in Jean Pascal’s Career.

One thing’s for sure; there are many big and exciting nights ahead for Jean Pascal and his biggest to date is on the 18th December.

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