He’s 36, much, much closer to the vocational finish line than the starting line. He’s experienced a grievous loss recently, with his father passing away. However Jean Pascal’s vocal demeanor, as he chats with RingTV.com about his Saturday showdown with young gun and WBA light heavyweight titleholder Dmitry Bivol (HBO, 10 p.m. ET/PT) leaves a pundit feeling buoyant about the Haitian-Canadian’s chance to give a good account of himself, one better than many in the pundit class are predicting.
Now the power of positive thinking can do wonders for a brain but, it must be said, it gets one only so far in the squared circle.
In Pascal’s most recent fight, he thought it would be one and done. He took on an ex-hockey player-turned-MMA’er, who entered the ring having fought just one pro bout. It would not have been an ignominious finish for Pascal (33-5-1; 20 KOs); the man’s impressive resume and accomplishments withstand however his last chapter pages read. That said, a tango against a young gun, with the fans and media mostly thinking he’s in over his head, seems more fitting for a gracious and willing warrior.
“It’s the story of my life to be the underdog,” said the ex-light heavyweight champ, when I asked him if HE thinks he’s the underdog against the Russian, who many think is the best 175-pounder in the world right now. “In school I was the underdog; against Chad Dawson I was, against Bernard Hopkins the first fight. I never consider myself the underdog. I know I’m the man!”
Points to Pascal for optimism and sunny disposition…
Pascal lost to Sergey Kovalev twice and to current WBO titlist Eleider Alvarez. He bettered Yunieski Gonzalez in summer 2015 and was supposed to get taken out by Ahmed Elbiali before that scrap against ex-goon (I say that respectfully; that’s a hard job) Steve Bosse.
But JP makes clear that fighting is still in his heart, soul and blood…so he fights on. “I don’t take punches for anything; I don’t need money.” He took some college courses and thought he’d exit the fight game; however it beckoned him back…
“I have gas in the tank. I saw myself I had gas in the tank. And I don’t want to leave with any regrets. If I leave now, I will have regrets. With an empty tank, no regrets.”
We all will see on Saturday how full that tank is. His manager Greg Leon tells me that Pascal is in tremendous shape and of very sound mind. “This is the most confident I have ever seen Pascal and that’s all about the natural confidence that comes with scoring back-to-back wins for the first time in a few years and consecutive stoppages for the first time since 2006. It’s an honor and I’m proud to represent Jean Pascal because, as a fighter rep, all you could ask for is the athlete giving 100% of himself in the ring and Jean never disappoints. This fight is everything for Jean. It’s history, the Hall of Fame, his legacy, and I have no doubt he will leave it all in the ring to achieve his goals on Saturday night.”
For the record, Pascal is already acquainted with Bivol (14-0, 11 KOs). He used Bivol for sparring before the second fight with Kovalev, in January 2016, and, no, he won’t say he learned deep intel which will bring him the win. That was well over a couple years ago and Bivol has certainly improved since then; the sage vet admits. He told trainer Freddie Roach then that Bivol would hold a world title, after Bivol had five pro fights, and his prediction played out.
“We know each other very well. Who will it help more? I don’t know. I don’t think me or him. He got better; he won a title.”
And has JP gotten better? I won’t ask that…but I have to traffic in cold reality. He recently turned 36 and there’s been wear and tear. “I don’t feel 36. I’m not young but I got gas in the tank! I’m 36 but I feel great for 36!”
And does he predict a win? Not so much…He’s optimistic but grounded in reality. “My prediction is a tremendous fight; tune in! It’s Thanksgiving Weekend but it’s Saturday. It’s the ‘World Championship Boxing,’ we make history. Eat your leftovers and tune in!”
There may be an extra measure of emotion there to catalyze the fighter; you should know. His dad Sant Voyis Pascal passed away last month, on October 9, at 89. He’d been a politician in Haiti, built schools, paved roads and brought electricity to his community, the son said. “I know he’s watching over me. There is no perfect situation; it is up to us to make it perfect,” the fighter stated, showing again a solid handle on a difficult deal. “About that, I’m feeling OK.”
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