Sunday, March 26, 2023  |



Eleider Alvarez, Jean Pascal meet at the crossroads

Photo by Stephanie Trapp/Showtime

Eleider Alvarez is champing at the bit for a title shot.

He’s the mandatory challenger to the WBC light heavyweight belt held by Adonis Stevenson, and if Alvarez wins Saturday at Montreal’s Bell Centre, that fight’s next.

But first, Alvarez faces former champion Jean Pascal in the Showtime-televised co-feature to Stevenson-Andrzej Fonfara 2.

How much does Pascal  (31-4-1, 18 knockouts) have left after consecutive two knockout losses to Sergey Kovalev and a lackluster performances against Yunieski Gonzalez? It doesn’t seem like much. At his best, Pascal was a tough out: an athletic puncher with speed and quick-twitch reflexes.

Now? He’s a stationary target.

The 175-pound matchup between fellow Canadians is a true crossroads bout. If Alvarez wins, he has a title shot waiting for him. If he loses? He’ll likely fall out of the RING’s top-10 ratings.

An upset victory for Pascal could spring him into a long-discussed bout against Stevenson, a rival, while a loss would effectively finish Pascal as a top-level fighter.

“He has a lot of experience, but experience can be negative sometimes,” Alvarez, 33, said at Tuesday’s news conference. “He’s experienced, but he has negative experiences and losses, too. I don’t think it will be a factor Saturday night.

“ … I’m fully ready for my title shot. I’ve been ready for 18 months, but for some reason it didn’t happen.  I’m ready to face everybody. I’m probably in the toughest division in boxing right now, but once Stevenson comes, I’ll be ready.”

Alvarez (22-0, 11 KOs) was the mandatory challenger when he risked his status in a fight against faded Canadian Lucian Bute in February. It wasn’t a gamble at all, though. The Columbia native walked right through Bute and stopped him in the fifth round with a vicious volley of punches.

Now, Alvarez faces another Canadian past his best days. The difference? Pascal still packs a big punch. And he’s desperate for a win. The 34-year-old owns victories over Chad Dawson and Bute, along with a draw and loss to Bernard Hopkins.

Now, he needs one more victory to stay relevant

“Winning is the only option for me,” Pascal said. “I’ve been in some battles, but my tank is still full. I’ve faced way better opposition than him.  I’ve been there, done that on the big stage.

“This is a big, big fight, and I’ve been here before.  That’s the thing with experience — you can’t buy experience.  You have to live it, and I’ve lived it many times.  I’m ready to be on the big stage once again.”

Pascal is right — he owns a big edge in the experience department, with two fights against a future hall of famer and another two against one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.

Alvarez’s top opposition? Bute and a disputed decision victory over tricky South African Isaac Chilemba in 2015.

“I didn’t wait 18 months to become a world champion for nothing.  I won’t give a victory to Pascal.  I’ve waited for 18 months for my chance and I won’t give it to Pascal.”

Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for