Q&A: Jean Pascal
Early last week the decision was made that former light heavyweight titleholder Jean Pascal, who was supposed to fight Donovan George this weekend but the teams were never able to negotiate a deal, would face Roberto Bolonti instead.
Bolonti had become available after his scheduled opponent, Lucian Bute, injured his back in training.
“There comes a time when negotiations have to stop and you’ve got to move forward,” Interbox president Jean Bedard said in a press release. “Pascal verses Bolonti was a scenario we’d already considered, and we think it’s the right one. Plus, it’s important for Jean Pascal to fight so he can direct his career.”
Victory could earn Pascal, who hasn’t fought since his unanimous-decision win over Bute in January, a March date with Sergey Kovalev, who holds the IBF, WBO and WBA titles.
Pascal is unconcerned with the late switch.
“My team and I welcome this challenge and anticipate that it is going to be a hard-fought fight against a strong and rugged opponent,” he told RingTV.com last Thursday.
Pascal (29-2-1, 17 knockouts) is currently ranked No. 3 at 175 pounds by THE RING and IBF, and No. 1 by the WBC and WBO. Bolonti (35-3, 24 KOs) most recently lost a unanimous decision to Juergen Braehmer, who sits just below Pascal in the RING ratings at No. 4.
Pascal-Bolonti headlines the Integrated Sports event and will showcase several prospects on the undercard, including junior lightweight Joel Diaz, junior middleweight Steven Butler and super middleweight Schiller Hyppolite.
Anson Wainwright – What are your thoughts on fighting Bolonti?
Jean Pascal – It’s a very important fight for me right now because I need to be impressive to secure a fight with Kovalev.
I would like to thank Jean Bedard and Interbox for making this fight happen. Roberto Bolonti is a top-quality opponent. His record speaks to him having earned considerable experience at the highest level. An example of the quality of Bolonti is him having fought a rugged bout against Jurgen Braehmer in Braehmer’s home territory of Germany. Bolonti’s record includes a KO percentage of 63 percent.
As always, I am going to bring all of my strengths and abilities to this fight and a very strong preparation, supported by a strong entourage that includes Roy Jones Jr., Russ Anber, Angel Hernandez, and Robert Schinke. I am committed to an exciting, high quality performance in keeping with what I always produce.
AW – What do you see as Bolonti’s strengths and weaknesses?
JP – I’m not going to talk about his weaknesses but he is a tough guy and he’s not coming to Montreal to only get [a] check.
AW – Your last fight was a points win against Lucian Bute in a big all-Canada matchup. Looking back what would you say about that fight?
JP – That was a great fight for me. I showed up to fight and I proved that I’m the best boxer in the country.
AW – Roy Jones Jr. worked your corner for the Bute fight; Tell us about working with Roy and the insight he brings.
JP – Roy brings motivation because he was my idol when I was amateur. I looked up to him for his [knowledge] because he was the pound-for-pound king for a decade, and his experience because he’s been in the game for the last two decades. Even though I’m a professional, he is one of my trainers and I’m still his number one fan.
AW – That was in January. Since then you’ve been waiting in the wings for the opportunity but it’s been many months. Why have you been inactive for much of 2014 after making a strong start to the year?
JP – When you’re a good boxer and smart, you went to school ÔÇª you know the inside of the game. You can give a hard time to the promoters and when you do that they try to put you on the sideline to make you starve and accept any kind of deal. But it’s hard to starve when you make millions and have your money. (Laughs.)
AW – Originally you were going to be on the undercard of Bute’s fight with your now-opponent. Is that a bit of a kick in the teeth having beaten him?
JP – Since when does an undercard fighter has his own poster? It was two main events and the Quebec fans are lucky to have two main events on the same show.
AW – When you assess the light heavyweight division, what are your thoughts on it?
JP – It’s a great division to be in to make money but, at the same time, it’s a tough one because the champions are very good. These days belts don’t have the same [significance]. It’s not because you have one that you are a true champion.
AW – What did you think of Hopkins-Kovalev?
JP – I don’t want to take anything away from Kovi but Hopkins showed his age. But Kovalev stuck to his game plan, and that’s why he dominated the fight.
AW – A few weeks after your fight Adonis Stevenson fights Dmitry Sukhotsky. If Stevenson wins is that a fight you’d target for 2015?
JP – Aducknis Chickenson will fight who??? Dmitry who??? Unfortunately, I can’t run faster than Usain Bolt, so I won’t be able to catch up with him to fight me in 2015.
AW – What goals do you still have in boxing?
JP – To be the pound-for-pound king of the world by 2016. And if Martians invade America, to be the pound-for-pound king of the galaxy.
AW – In closing do you have a message for Bolonti ahead of your fight?
JP – Don’t get caught up with that Pascal vs. Kovalev or Pascal verses Stevenson situation. I’m not thinking about those two guys, I’m focusing on you. You are my target! December 6th it’s going down.
The card is available on pay-per-view in Canada on Indigo and Bell in French and English, as well as via Rogers, Shaw and Sask-Tel in English only. In America it can be seen starting at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT on both cable and satellite pay-per-view via iNDemand, DirecTV, DISH, and Vubiquity for a suggested retail price of $24.95.