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Is Pascal Promoting His Own Fall?

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By Michael Woods

Bronx-Based Greg Leon is CEO of Jean Pascal Promotions, and the young gun was present on a Tuesday conferee call hyping the Jan. 30 rematch between the Montrealer Pascal and the rugged Russian headbanger Sergey Kovalev.

They tangled last year and Pascal gave a decent account of himself, better than the one offered before that by the living legend Bernard Hopkins.

We count down to Jan. 30, wondering if Pascal can reverse the curse, be the first man to down Kovalev, after being stopped in round eight when they collided last March?

“Jean is working with one of the greatest trainers of all time,” Leon told me, “and he’s making the necessary adjustments and I have no doubt he will be victorious on Jan. 30.”

Points to Leon for optimism, which is buoyed by the addition of Dedham Freddie Roach to the squad; it will surely be a hard climb, but that doesn’t mean that interest lags for this fight, which will be promoted by Main Events along with Interbox, and screen on HBO.

For one reason, Pascal has taken a most personal route in talking up the event. At the opening presser to spread the word on the sequel, he accused Kovalev of racial bias. Some have written off some iffy choices in his phrasing and social media posting to cultural differences, but the Haitian-born Pascal said he won’t give the Russian a pass. In a release which went out on Tuesday, hours before the call which had Kovalev and Pascal doing separate phone sessions with press, Pascal continued the assault on the Kovalev character.

Pascal was asked if he regrets calling Kovalev a biased person…

“Regret? I don’t regret anything I said that day,” the 33-year-old with a 30-3-1 mark said. “All I did was tell the truth. There is only one star in this fight and it isn’t Sergey Kovalev. When he and I fought on the same show in Vegas on July 25 it became obvious that Kovalev sells like sand in the desert. He didn’t even sell 1,000 tickets, so we all know the reason he’s coming back to Montreal is because I’m the only way he can make money. He likes to say that he likes to go to other peoples’ hometown and ruin them in front of their fans, but that’s a lie. He likes to go to other people’s backyard because he has no hometown of his own and couldn’t sell 2,000 tickets to save his life. And when he makes his first million dollar purse because of my great fans in Montreal, how does he thank them? He gives them the finger. Talk about classless.”

So…no regrets then?

“Like I said, I don’t regret anything. It was the truth. Ismayl Sillakh told me some of the deplorable things Kovalev told him before they fought and the monkey shirt with Adonis spoke for itself. And it’s a fact that he only calls black fighters pieces of shit. The funny thing is when it comes to selling tickets, speaking in complete sentences or generating big ratings, the only piece of shit is him.”

My take: Couple issues. First off, I don’t know what’s in Kovalev’s heart. In his defense, I think it is fair to point out his trainer is black. So…I don’t think we can play the KKK card here. Also, regarding him being a draw, Pascal makes a decent point. But…being a draw on TV is more beneficial to a guy than being able to draw X number of people to see him work live. If HBO is willing to pay Kovalev X amount of dollars for the privilege of having him on their air, then that is probably more pertinent to his ability to be a standout performer than anything.

Anyway…I think this angle from Pascal can be filed under the brave but foolhardy designation. If Kovalev feels his ego wounded he might well look to take it out on Pascal…and that could spell a quicker and more certain doom for the Montrealer.

Editor/publisher Michael Woods became addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the fearsome Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist Woods has covered the sport since then, for ESPN The Magazine, ESPN.com, ESPN New York, RING, and he was editor of TheSweetScience.com from 2007-2015. Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and numerous other organizations.

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