World Light Heavyweight Champion Jean Pascal took a break from his training on Wednesday to address the media via international conference call in promotion of his upcoming title defense rematch against Bernard Hopkins scheduled for May 21st in Montreal, Canada. Pascal (26-1-1 w/ 16 KOs) will be attempting to make the fifth successful defense of his WBC Light Heavyweight Championship, and the second defense of his Ring Magazine World Light Heavyweight Championship, which he won recognition for by beating Chad Dawson last year.
The 46 year old Hopkins (51-5-2 w/ 32 KOs) will be attempting to make history and become the oldest boxer in any weight division to win a legitimate World Championship. That record is currently held by George Foreman, who was 45 years of age when he knocked out Michael Moorer in 1994 for the heavyweight title. The Canadian Pascal and the American Hopkins fought to a controversial majority draw last year in Quebec City in a surprisingly good fight that saw Hopkins on the canvass twice but more or less in control throughout the fight, particularly the second half. Many observers felt that Hopkins did enough to win, despite being downed twice by Pascal. The fight featured an American judge (who scored the fight for Hopkins by two points), as well as a Canadian judge and a Belgian judge; both of whom scored the fight even, a draw.
These are the basic fight facts, though you might not know it from listening to Jean Pascal rant about drug testing and allegations of cheating.
"I'm gonna bark like a dog and expose him to the nation! If we're both clean, let's just take the test! If he's not taking anything, why get upset? I believe that people who don't want to disclose the truth are people with something to hide."
"If Barack Obama was willing to show his birth certificate, why doesn't Bernard Hopkins have to take the test?"
Good grief, enough already!
When I hear about steroids, drug testing, PEDs, and "cheating" in the sport of boxing, I tune out quick. It doesn't interest me in the least, I think it's 99% BS, and frankly, I just don't care. Like everybody else, I've heard Pascal say ad nauseum that he is willing to "take the test" - fine, go take the damn test - but what about these persistent allegations of cheating? Is your opponent loading his gloves Jean? Removing the padding from them? Drinking from a special bottle, you know, the one I mixed? Did he bite you? That's how I understand cheating. Apparently things have changed and boxing has become something like baseball, where the asterisk * symbolizes a tainted sport. Fortunately, boxing is not quite there
yet. When asked directly by Dan Rafael if he believes Hopkins is cheating, Pascal responded by (thankfully) saying, "no, I don't think Bernard is cheating."
So glad we could clear that up because as an old school follower of boxing, I look for more traditional angles of attack when it comes to a fighter taking an advantage over another fighter - things like ring size for instance, glove type, weight qualifications, 15 rounds or 12 - things like that, or even something like "hometown" advantage, which by the way is an advantage that Pascal has taken into the ring with him in 26 out of 28 fights, fighting almost exclusively in Canada. Pascal has fought in the United States one only time, beating Omar Pittman in Florida by decision on ESPN in 2008. Later that year, he ventured to the UK where he was beaten by the British Carl Froch in a bid for the vacant WBC Super Middleweight title.
The current Light Heavyweight Champion of the World has not ventured out of O Canada
Knockout Digest asked Jean Pascal about fighting outside of Canada now that he is a WORLD Champion.
"I have no problems fighting outside of Canada. I'm going to go where the fans want me to go. I fought in England in 2008 - I wasn't scared to go overseas, because I'm a warrior, a soldier, and I always want to give the best show possible. For this rematch, I was willing to go to the United States to beat up Bernard Hopkins but he has no fans in America. That is why he chose to go back to Canada to make more money because he knows that in Canada we have great fights and great fans. He's is going to make more money in Canada than he's going to make in America because he has no fanbase!"
Pascal's Promoter Yvon Michel then chimed in, "This fight being in Canada is the best business possible and if it would have been the best business possible to fight in the United States, he would have fought in the United States. What I find funny is we never ask the American champions if they would be willing to defend their titles outside of the United States to see if they are real world champions."
The "best business" possible is to give yourself the best possible advantage to win the fight and that is exactly what Champion Jean Pascal does when he is able to defend his title time after time in front of his hometown crowd. A short ride home after the fight isn't the only advantage associated with fighting in your hometown or home country. Loud, potentially judge influencing cheers, from your fans every time you throw a punch, a hostile environment for your opponent; those are advantages, and with that volatile dynamic often comes the "hometown" decision in favor of the local fighter. Fighting at home if possible is an advantage as old as the sport itself but with Pascal it's getting ridiculous and it's time for him to truly earn the status of WORLD Champion by fighting and defending his title in other parts of the world, particularly if he insists on alleging that his opponent is taking some unfair advantage. Bernard Hopkins did not make 20 successful defenses of the Middleweight Championship in Philadelphia, although I'm sure he would have liked to. That is by means to suggest that Jean Pascal has benefited from any hometown scoring, or any advantage beyond having loud loyal fans that boo his opponent like Jack the Ripper and raise the roof when their hometown guy makes his way to the ring. Just as Pascal willingly takes advantage of the benefit of the doubt afforded to him by fighting at home, he should extend that benefit of the doubt to Bernard Hopkins and drop all this cheating nonsense.
"When you fight Bernard Hopkins, it's always complicated."
Thankfully, on May 21st, the talk stops, and the punching starts.
"He doesn't like me. I don't like him so we can take care of that in the ring, where we can hit eachother legally."