Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev didn’t hide his intentions. “The Krusher” wanted to “end” Jean Pascal’s career and when a fighter with the kind of heavy hands like Kovalev utters things like that, people tend to listen and shudder at the possibilities.
On Saturday night on HBO, from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Kovalev’s anger spilled over in a cold, calculating manner. He pounded Pascal through emotionless dark eyes, cornering him and then stepping back when he had him in trouble to punish him more. Then Kovalev clucked like a chicken mocking Adonis Stevenson and wore a smile as he continued to castigate Pascal as a “disrespectful person” who deserved to be chastened.
It’s exactly what Kovalev (29-0-1, 26 KOs) did, stopping Pascal (30-4-1, 17 KOs) after seven rounds, when Pascal’s new trainer, Hall of Famer Freddie Roach, mercifully ended it before his fighter suffered any more. Kovalev successfully defended the WBA, WBO and IBF titles.
Kovalev connected on 165 of 412 total shots (40%), to Pascal’s 30-108 (30.8%). The jab stats were interesting. Roach wanted Pascal to box more, to use his jab and try to break through Kovalev’s defense. But Pascal landed just 14 of 60 jabs thrown (23.3%), which was outstripped by Kovalev’s numbers (87-210 jab connects 41.4%; 78-202 power shots 38.6%).
Kovalev wanted to make a point, which was a painful one for Pascal.
“I don’t like him much and this was a personal fight for me,” Kovalev admitted afterwards. “Pascal is a special person. I mean that he’s not polite with anyone around him and doesn’t respect fighters. No one respects him. Walking around Montreal, everyone told me, ‘Kick his ass.’ Yes, I wanted (to punish him) and fight more rounds and (put him through) more pain. I wanted to punish him more.
“I don’t respect him at all. And I never will. I punished not a good person and everyone understands that. I’m very happy the fight will happen with (Andre Ward). I want to unify all the titles and I would like to fight Adonis ‘Chickenson’ next.”
Then Kovalev began to cluck like a chicken.
That’s when Stevenson popped into the ring and proclaimed himself “the real world champ.”
Pascal, meanwhile, thanked his fans and was respectful to Kovalev, calling him “a great champion,” and promising that “I will be back.”
As for the fight itself, it was a paradigm of almost every Kovalev fight. He worked Pascal’s body, chopping at his ribs with heavy right hands.
Kovalev did try, however, to be sportsman like. The Krusher reached out with a friendly glove during the fighter introductions with Pascal, which was reluctantly reciprocated. In the first round, Kovalev tried again, extending a friendly glove during a bad exchange that Pascal ignored. At least, Kovalev tried.
Then it stopped. Kovalev’s blunt force brought a storm that was taking a toll on the face of Pascal, who called Kovalev “ignorant” and a “racist” in the build-up for the fight. That really irritated Kovalev.
Prior to the fight, Kovalev told Sherdog, Pascal “talks a lot of trash and I’m going to close his mouth. I don’t care what he says about me. You can’t listen to a trash talker. He’ll pay for this. Everyone will see that he’ll pay for this. I want to end his career. I admit as a fighter, he’s good. As a person, he’s no good. He asked for this and he’s going to get it.”
In the fifth round, he did. Kovalev worked well up and down. He hurt Pascal with a right to the body, and had Pascal bent over at the waist taking serious punishment. Referee Michael Griffin poked his head in and looked closely at Pascal, who was in serious trouble.
In the fifth, Kovalev connected on 31 of 73 punches, landing 20 of 47 power shots. Pascal did almost nothing to defend himself, throwing a mere five punches in the fifth, landing one.
In the sixth, Kovalev again had Pascal in bad shape—but this time, Kovalev backed up to prolong the round to apply more damage.
Between the sixth and seventh rounds, Pascal pleaded with Roach that he wanted to continue. Still, Roach turned to Griffin and said, “Please, keep an eye on him.”
In the first round, Griffin may have made a mistake. Kovalev landed a jab, and Pascal seemed to be caught off balance, falling backwards. Griffin, however, called what appeared to be a knockdown a slip. Griffin’s miscue, and the replay revealed it was a mistake, impacted the scoring. It didn’t impact the outcome.
Joseph Santoliquito is the president of the Boxing Writer's Association of America and a frequent contributor to Sherdog.com's mixed martial arts and boxing coverage. His archive can be found here.