Jean Pascal continues to defy time and common sense and a career trajectory that, until quite recently, had him on his way out at the age of 36 and after numerous tough battles and defeats to, among others, Sergey Kovalev, Eleider Alvarez and Dmitry Bivol. But the Montrealer breathed new life into his career in most dramatic fashion this past August when he derailed the career of undefeated prospect Marcus Browne. In a huge upset, Pascal droppped Browne twice before opening up a deep cut over Browne’s left eye which necessitated a stop to the action; the scorecards were consulted and Jean Pascal was the newest belt-holder in the light heavyweight division.
Most expected a rematch between Pascal and Browne but instead Pascal vs Jack, as in former super middleweight champion Badou Jack, was announced as the co-main event with Gervonta Davis vs Yuriorkis Gamboa as the headlining match-up. This is the same Badou Jack who had fought Marcus Browne back in January and dropped a decision to the rising young talent in a bloody affair. Thus, Jack was 1-1-2 in his last four outings and desperate for a major victory, while Pascal was seeking to keep his unlikely resurgence going. The stakes were high for both men and it’s safe to say Pascal vs Jack stole the show as Badou and Jean gave boxing fans a fight to remember, one that deserves mention in any discussion about 2019’s Fight of the Year.
Pascal got off to a fast start — something that would prove crucial in the final result — but the fireworks started in earnest in round three with Badou hurting Pascal with a right hand. He stunned the Quebecer again in round four and appeared to be gaining control of the contest, but at the end of the round the indomitable Pascal landed a huge right of his own that put Jack on the canvas. Pascal continued his momentum into the second half of the fight but then Badou came on big in the late rounds, winning virtually all of them and scoring a questionable knockdown in the final round. The action was spirited and high-octane, especially for two old warriors in their late 30’s. A draw might have been the fairest outcome possible but two of three judges rewarded Pascal’s aggression and he left the ring still in possession of his title belts which represent something, though we’re not sure exactly what.
“It was a close fight, but I won it,” declared Pascal. “Badou is a great fighter, but no one can say he was robbed. I won that fight. I’m the champ. I think I was in control the whole fight. I kept the middle of the ring most of the time.”
“Of course, I feel I won the fight,” said Badou, “but it is what it is. He’s a tough warrior and I want to thank him for the opportunity.”
It’s difficult to say where either fighter goes from here, though I’m sure I speak for thousands of fight fans when I say: how about a rematch? That was a close, dramatic, all-action affair and I would love to see both grizzled warriors get another major payday by rumbling a second time. I, for one, have zero interest in seeing Pascal being fed to say Artur Beterbiev or Oleksandr Gvozdyk, and at this point Badou Jack has zero allure as an opponent for any other title-holder.
All that said, after seeing Pascal absorb so many flush shots in this punishing war, I’m hoping those close to the Haitian-Canadian are strongly recommending retirement. He has nothing left to prove as in 2019 he gave fight fans two amazing performances, a Fight of the Year contender, and boxing’s most inspiring comeback. — Neil Crane