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Duva Hopes The Bad-Ass Wins



By Michael Woods

This time it’s personal, we are told.

Fucksake, last time it wasn’t?

Guess not..Last time we saw Sergey Kovalev doing that violent waltz with Jean Pascal it was basically business. Now, though, Pascal needled the Russian, leveled some charges at him.

Biased, Pascal calls him, actually using the R word…

Kovalev denies it. And says he will give a proper rebuttal Saturday in Montreal. Proverbial letting the fists do the talking…

I reached out to the main promoter, the Jersey based deal maker Kathy Duva of Main Events. Does this “bad blood” element actually mean anything? Did Pascal seal a faster doom for himself?

“I think that the more interesting story concerns rematches: Sometimes the sentimental favorite wins the rematch, i.e. Holyfield-Bowe 2. And sometimes he doesn’t, i.e. Pryor-Arguello 2. In both cases the perceived “Bad Ass” won the first fight. There was a lot of personal animosity between the camps at the time. And a lot of pressure. In both cases, the loser of the first fight was the sentimental favorite going into the rematch.

“No one gave Holyfield or Arguello a chance to win their rematches,” Duva told NYFIGHTS. “Many members of the media expressed that they were actually concerned for Holyfield’s health. Ditto for Arguello. They were both facing hellacious punchers who had beat them badly in their previous encounters. As you know, when the rematches occurred–both outdoors at Caesars Palace, by the way, exactly ten years and two months apart–the Fan Man descended from the Heavens, Holyfield scored one of the biggest upsets of his career and Arguello got knocked out.

“Here we have the beloved hometown guy fighting an opponent who has the reputation for being a “Bad Ass” and who defeated him soundly in a previous bout. No doubt, Sergey is playing the role of villain here, just as Pryor and Bowe did back in the 80’s and 90’s. And Pascal is doing everything he can think of to get under Sergey’s skin.”

I enjoy asking Duva to look for the historical comparison; she draws on a few decades worth of experiences in this savage science realm and has a knack for connecting dots with analogies and storylines.

“Obviously, I hope that this one is more analogous to the Pryor-Arguello situation and the “Bad Ass” wins again! But this is boxing. You never know. And that is what makes this sport so interesting!

“I can’t say for sure that anger played a big role in either of those fights, by the way. But strange as it may sound today, I know that both Holyfield and Arguello believed that their careers were literally hanging in the balance on those nights, as is the case with Pascal today. Holyfield won and went on to become a legend. Arguello lost and, with that loss, his legendary career was all but over.

“One guy who did get angry, by the way, was Ray Mancini. Livingstone Bramble did a phenomenal job of getting under his skin before both of their fights–particularly the first one. Bramble was given no chance to win. But he drove Mancini crazy and Ray seemed to lose his cool. That didn’t help Ray at all, as history showed us.

“But I think that Sergey is too smart to let anything Pascal says motivate him in anything other than a positive way. I guess we will find out on Saturday night! Don’t miss it!”

Lol, I simply have to let the promoter be the promoter, and finish her educated flurry with that call to tune in. HBO is the TV platform, for the record.

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 New York, RING, and he was editor of 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.