Ahmed Elbiali steps up to face Jean Pascal on Dec. 8; Dawson-Rodriguez in co-feature
Ahmed Elbiali, an impressive prospect from Egypt, is going to find out if he’s ready for contender status.
The Cairo native will step up and face former RING light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal on December 8 in Miami on a PBC on FS1 card. Fellow former champion Chad Dawson, way past his prime, will meet former contender Edwin Rodriguez in the co-feature.
Elbiali (16-0, 13 knockouts) now resides in Miami, so he’ll enjoy an advantage over the Canadian. And even though Pascal no longer resembles the athletic puncher who once was the best at 175 pounds, Elbiali has feasted on low-level competition. The 27-year-old’s last two victories came over opponents with a combined record of 32-11.
“I’m so thankful to everyone who helped me get here and believe in my skills enough to give this opportunity,” said Elbiali. “This is my golden ticket. I’m excited, ready and blessed for this opportunity. Come December 8, it will be fireworks in Miami!”
Pascal (31-5-1, 18 KOs) has been a staple of the the light heavyweight division since his stoppage victory over Chad Dawson in 2010 to win the RING championship. The Canadian went on to meet Bernard Hopkins in two highly competitive fights, though he didn’t win either bout.
And after consecutive knockout defeats to Sergey Kovalev in 2015-’16, he was rightly written off as a top fighter.
Pascal, 35, again faced top competition this year with a defeat to Eleider Alvarez, and although he lasted the distance, he absorbed a tremendous amount of punishment.
“This is not only a comeback fight, but I’m ready to battle for my career on December 8,” said Pascal. “They’re trying to give this young guy a test against a former champion and he’s going to try to use me as a ladder to the next level in this sport.
“I have a dangerous opponent and I’m going to be ready for him. When I fought Bernard Hopkins I was the young lion, now it’s the other way around and I’m going to be ready to show him something he’s never seen before.”
Dawson, too, has been written off. Once a crafty southpaw and pound-for-pound entrant, he’s never been the same since a first-round knockout loss to Adonis Stevenson. Dawson was the lineal champion when he entered that bout in 2013, but that was the end of him on the elite level.
Still, he trudges on, a shell of his former self at age 35. He dropped a decision to journeyman Tommy Karpency in 2014 and was knocked out by Andrzej Fonfara earlier this year.
“I know Edwin Rodriguez very well from sparring together in the past,” said Dawson (34-5, 19 KOs). “We’re both in a position where we really need this win, and that’s going to make this an exciting fight. I’m motivated to do it one more time, and this time, I’m doing it right.
“I know that he’s strong and aggressive, but I’ve been in fights like this. I’m prepared for that type of intensity level, and I’m ready to go out and enjoy myself. I think my boxing will be the difference in the fight, and that will get me back to where I’ve been in the past.”
Rodriguez (29-2, 20 KOs), meanwhile, has never been considered a top-level fighter, though he fought on the elite level with a wide-points defeat to Andre Ward in 2013. Rodriguez also was on the receiving end of a devastating knockout against Thomas Williams last year, and the bout against Dawson amounts to a fight where even the winner has no promising options.
“Chad Dawson is a former champion and a great fighter who at one point was looked at as close to being one of the best fighters, pound-for-pound,” said Rodriguez. “He’s had had his share of losses, but he was beating Fonfara in his last fight before being caught and knocked out.
“It was very important for me to come back and win my last fight by knockout, but an impressive win over a guy of Chad’s caliber will revitalize my career. This is going to be a great fight and I believe I can win by knockout or decision.”