Sergey Kovalev knocks out Mohammedi, Jean Pascal wins controversial decision over Yuniesky Gonzalez

July 26, 2015

Sergey Kovalev knocks down Mohammedi
Photo Credits: David Spagnolo/Main Events

Las Vegas, Nevada -- Sergey "Krusher" Kovalev (28-0-1, 25 KOs) put on a dominant performance Saturday night, destroying top contender Nadjib Mohammedi (38-4, 23 KOs) with an impressive power punching display, and retaining his light heavyweight championship belts via knockout at the 2:38 mark of Round 3.

Upon entering the ring and just prior to the official introductions, it was interesting to see that Kovalev made it a point to shake hands and make contact with everyone standing in Mohammedi’s corner, except Abel Sanchez. This was notable of course because Sanchez himself had formerly trained Kovalev, until an acrimonious split sent them in opposite directions.

When asked if he spoke to his former trainer Sanchez in the ring before or after the fight, Kovalev gave a simple three-word response, “No I didn’t.”

Once the opening bell rang to begin Round 1, the champion came out calm and cool, patiently throwing jabs to close the distance. Mohammedi was very cautious and fought the majority of the first round in a very defensive posture, throwing a minimal amount of punches, and instead focusing primarily on avoiding any bombs.  Kovalev landed a pair of nice right hands to the body, and a looping right hand that got behind Mohammedi’s high guard.

Mohammedi surprisingly came out more aggressive to start the second round, while Kovalev continued to jab. Mohammedi was desperately trying to avoid Kovalev’s attack, but Kovalev landed a thudding right hand counter followed by a barrage of punches that sent Mohammedi to the canvas and brought roars from the crowd.

Kovalev could be seen imploring his opponent to get up from the neutral corner.  Mohammedi did manage to beat the count, and frantically held on to survive the round.

“I tried to get fight longer, but it didn’t happen I’m sorry," said Kovalev.  "I told him stand up. It was short show. People didn't see boxing. I wanted to continue. I tried to continue longer this fight.”

Kovalev lands a left on Mohammedi
Photo Credits: David Spagnolo/Main Events

In the third round, Mohammedi came out cautiously and was very defensive-minded, but Kovalev closed the distance with his jab and then threw powerful right hands behind those range-finding jabs.

Kovalev would close the show with a thunderous right-straight left combination that sealed the deal and dropped Mohammedi for the last time.

Mohammedi’s distressed reaction on the final conclusive knockdown was at least partially due to an eye injury, as he stated, "Unfortunately, I got a thumb in my eye."

Immediately after the official announcement of the stoppage, Kovalev, perhaps feeling bad about the quick ending, further endeared himself to his adoring fans by taking several moments to toss out gifts and apparel into the crowd. One humorous moment came when ringside analyst Bernard Hopkins actually caught one of the Krusher-branded goodies.

At the post-fight press conference, Kovalev was his usual charming self, as his deadpan comments elicited laughter from the gathered press corps, followed by a knowing grin from the Ukranian.

When pressed about who he would prefer to fight next, Kovalev said, "My favorite fight right now is WBC Champion, Adonis 'Piece of [expletive],' Stevenson."

When I later asked Kovalev about the prospect of fighting 168-pound champion Andre Ward, he seemed to be open to the prospect of such a fight, stating, “He’s great fighter, he’s Olympic Champion.”

However, Kovalev made it clear that any such mega-fight would not be done at a catchweight, but would instead require someone confident enough to move up and try to challenge his supremacy at Light Heavyweight.

“He’s best in Super Middleweight Division," said Kovalev.  "I am best in Light Heavyweight Division.”

Jean Pascal defeats Yuniesky Gonzalez by unanimous decision

On the undercard, former undisputed light heavyweight world champion Jean Pascal looked to rebound from his stoppage loss to Kovalev back in March by facing rugged Cuban opponent Yuniesky Gonzalez in a ten round light heavyweight bout.

Pascal (30-3-1, 17 KOs) came out patiently pumping his jab, but was quickly caught by a couple of chopping Gonzalez right hands as he attempted to duck and slip underneath.  Those shots seemed to buzz Pascal a bit, despite his protests that they were illegal rabbit punches landed to the back of his head.  As a result, Gonzalez was more effectively aggressive in the opening frame.

Gonzalez (16-1, 12 KOs) landed a thudding right hand to Pascal’s body midway thru the second round that seemed to wake Pascal up. Things opened up from there as they each flurried and exchanged big punches in the middle of the ring. Pascal was able to land a pair of big looping overhand rights that appeared to do the most damage, but Gonzalez continued to come forward. Pascal edged this round on this reporter's scorecard by way of the two big right hands.

Pascal was able to land a nice left hook upstairs in Round 3, followed by a hard right hand to the body. Midway through the round, Gonzalez landed a huge chopping right hand clean to the top of Pascal’s head.  Pascal seemed to take it well and responded with a jab and then a right hand that snapped Gonzalez’ head back. Despite the late rally from Pascal, Gonzalez’ aggression won him the round in this reporter’s eyes.

Pascal hits Gonzalez
Photo Credits: David Spagnolo/Main Events

Round 4 began with both fighters fighting at a more measured pace, but Gonzalez was still marching forward, while Pascal boxed off his back foot and circled away from the hard-charging Cuban slugger.

Pascal showed good evasiveness in slipping a Gonzalez jab and then landing a sharp 1-2 combination that caught the crowd’s attention. It seemed to have also caught Gonzalez’s as well, as they ended the round trading blows. Pascal showed more hand speed in flurrying effectively and punctuating the round with a big right hand.

In Round 5, Pascal began working more off his jab, but Gonzalez opted to use the same strategy in jabbing to the head and the body. Pascal landed a nice right hand to the body, and a right uppercut-left hook combination while Gonzalez tried to cover up. The Haitian-Canadian was still able to avoid most of Gonzalez's assault, even while holding his hands dangerously low at times. However, Gonzalez did find a home for a series of chopping right hands on the inside as Pascal ducked down underneath.

The fifth frame ended with Pascal attempting to play possum and bait Gonzalez into following him into his corner, to which the Cuban instead opted to back off and smile to himself, likely confident in the fact that he had taken the round.

Round 6 saw Pascal land a big counter left uppercut, followed by an overhand right that Gonzalez never saw coming. Pascal landed another big uppercut, this time a right, followed by a big lefthook before pivoting away and out of trouble. With about a minute to go in the round, Pascal was caught with a big uppercut, only to follow up with a left hook of his own, and then another big right hand right before the bell to seal the round in his favor.

About a minute into Round 7, Pascal began to pour it on, but when he got a bit too wild, Gonzalez was able to land some big shots of his own, eventually chasing Pascal into a corner.  Despite Pascal landing some big looping right hands that got around Gonzalez's guard, the Cuban defector took the round on the DSH's scorecard by being the busier and more accurate fighter, especially with his stiff jab.

Pascal appeared to be taking the eighth round off and Gonzalez took advantage by snapping his head back with a triple jab combination, sending sweat flying off the Haitian-Canadian’s skull. Although Pascal appeared to be the fighter with the fresher legs at the end of the round, it was Gonzalez who was much busier. The Cuban's superior work rate carried the round on this reporter's card.

Round 9 saw a still strong Gonzalez continue to stalk the circling Pascal, who tried to slow the Cuban’s onslaught by throwing a stabbing jab to the body. Gonzalez responded with a thudding jab of his own and spent the round coming forward, while Pascal continued to circle and box.

Pascal was able to land a big left hook with thirty seconds left in the round, but Gonzalez was undeterred, continually throwing awkward and chopping punches as Pascal dipped and attempted to dodge. This round was very close and hard to score, but Pascal’s ring generalship and accuracy allowed him to take it.

The two would begin Round 10 exchanging jabs, but Pascal showed great resolve and awareness by landing a huge left hook while he had his back against the ropes. Pascal continued to display his experience and ring generalship by landing a nice three-punch combination punctuated by a stiff jab that knocked Gonzalez off-balance. Pascal then landed a beautiful lead left hook followed by a wild exchange that saw him land a few solid shots in the final seconds.

The judges scored the bout 96-94, all for Pascal -- a result met primarily with boos and jeers from the crowd who respected Gonzalez’s more aggressive style.  The DSH scored it a draw, 95-95.

"I was controlling the fight," said Pascal.  "The fight was following the exact rhythm that I wanted. It was a great fight; very close."

Compubox stats showed that both fighters landed around the same number of punches (154 connected for Pascal vs. 163 for Gonzalez), but Gonzalez was the busier man (632 punches thrown vs. 397 for Pascal).

Gonzalez, meanwhile, was very emotional after the fight, as the distraught fighter had to be physically comforted and consoled by his handlers, who were literally holding him up following the announcement of the judges’ decision.

"I am so sad," said Gonzalez.  "I was the real fighter. That was taken from me. He did not win, I did. I am the real winner."

It was reported by Team Pascal (including chief second Marc Ramsay and assistant trainer Russ Anber) that Pascal had sustained a hand injury during the third round, which was immediately evident once the hand wraps were removed.  As a result, Pascal had to be taken to a local hospital.

Although Pascal never complained about the injury during the bout, Ramsay did state that it “had a lot to do with why Jean wasn’t fighting being as aggressive as he normally is.”

Gonzalez’ Promoter Joe DeGuardia stated that “Yuniesky deserves Kovalev. I honestly believe that.”

By Kweku Turkson
Staff Reporter for

No comments:

Post a Comment

We encourage all intelligent, passionate comments. Please refrain from any ignorant, racist, or offensive rants.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...