Saturday January 30th sees the Bell Center in Montreal, Canada host a return Light Heavyweight engagement between world champion Sergey Kovalev and Jean Pascal.
The two first met at the Bell Centre in March of 2015, and Kovalev was able to stop Pascal in the 8th round of a hard fought bout that many consider Kovalev's toughest bout to date. Pascal was down early, and in the 8th the referee stepped in, much to the chagrin of Pascal and his camp. The calls for a re-match from Pascal were loud and immediate.
Kovalev and his promoter Kathy Duva have big plans in the works for 2016. The re-match with Pascal is considered just the first step of a plan that Duva has set in motion that will see Kovalev fight three fights in 2016.
Late in 2015, HBO stepped in and announced the signing of Super Middleweight stud Andre Ward. That was followed by a slew of announcements that announced Ward was fighting three fights for HBO at Light Heavyweight, and that his third fight under that contract would be against Kovalev at the end of 2016.
The big showdown, and the fight that has never gotten past the negotiation stages for Kovalev has always been WBC titleholder Adonis Stevenson. Stevenson is signed with advisor Al Haymon and Kovalev's contract with HBO means that all the parties involved could not come to an agreement and the paperwork never got signed. With the emergence of a super-fight with Andre Ward scheduled, the sense was that the Kovalev vs Stevenson showdown was dead.
Lately though, there has been talk that a match between Kovalev and Stevenson is still in the works, and that the second or third quarter of 2016 lines up well on the calendars of both fighters.
The Boxing Channel spoke to Kathy Duva last October and she talked vaguely about big plans for Kovalev in the coming year. Going (3-0) with wins over Pascal, Stevenson and Ward would make Kovalev a front-runner for “Fighter of the Year”.
Pascal is (30-3-1) overall and he will certainly enter the fight feeling like Kovalev is looking past him. Neverthless, the sport books have installed Kovalev a massive (-2500) favorite over Pascal, who is returning at (+1400).
Sergey Kovalev is looking to have a big 2016, and it all starts at the Bell Centre in Montreal on the 30th of January. As forJean Pascal, he is cast firmly in the role of spoiler for this fight.