In a repeat of their 2015 bout, Sergey Kovalev scored a seventh round TKO over Jean Pascal in dominant fashion. Kovalev’s promise was to punish Pascal for his pre-fight antics and that is exactly what he did as with a vicious left jab he stopped Pascal in his tracks and then inflicted big damage with his right hand, his primary weapon. The first round saw both fighters getting accustomed to the fight as Kovalev proved to be more effective. A hard left hook to the body hurt Pascal in the third but the challenger replied with his own offense resulting in a heated exchange right before the bell rang.
Round four is when Kovalev completely took over, dominating and inflicting punishment, as he promised he would do. Pascal, who’s as tough as they come, somehow managed to stay on his feet but did little but absorb heavy shots. After round seven, Freddie Roach made the right decision and called for the referee to stop the fight.
Kovalev successfully defends his light heavyweight title and remains at the top of the division, as a possible bout against Andre Ward looms for later this year.
On the undercard, Francis Lafreniere and Renan St Juste met to claim bragging rights and the IBF International Middleweight Title. The intense, action-packed battle completely stole the show as the two local heroes engaged in a war that has Fight of the Year written all over it. Lafreniere, his face bloodied from a cut, simply out-worked St Juste over ten grueling rounds. It was non-stop action in every round with both men laying it all on the line. St Juste, struggling to stay on his feet, still answered to everything Lafreniere threw. In the end, the judges handed in cards that were all in favor of Francis Lafreniere.
In the opening match of the HBO broadcast, Main Events contender Dmitry Mikhaylenko defeated Karim Mayfield by unanimous decision after 10 rounds. In a make it or break it fight, Mayfield was looking for a win to get back on track following a few setbacks. Mayfield started fast, trying to bully Mikahylenko but the young Russian stayed calm and took control of the fight. Mikhaylenko landed the better combinations and outworked Mayfield who seemed exhausted, which was perhaps a result of a lack of preparation for accepting the fight on just two weeks’ notice.
Mikhaylenko earned a shutout unanimous decision win and continues his rise in the welterweight division following another solid performance.
Other wins from the undercard include Steven Butler with an eight round decision win over Antonion Hoffman; David Therounx with a third round stoppage over Mexico’s Juan Armando Garcia, and Jean Pascal ‘s Protégé, Joel Diaz Jr, scored a second round TKO over Mexican Abraham Gomez. — Rene Ricardo Bernal