By John J. Raspanti
Heavy favorite Dmitry Bivol had too much game for veteran Jean Pascal, boxing and punching his way to a 12-round unanimous decision Saturday night at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Etess Arena in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
All three judges had Bivol winning the bout by scores of 117-111, and 119-109 (twice)
Maxboxing judged Bivol the winner by a 119-109 tally.
Bivol, the WBA light heavyweight titleholder, jabbed with purpose in the opening round. The 36-year-old Pascal, who held the light heavyweight championship title nine years ago and spoke confidently before the fight of upsetting the much younger Bivol - moved to his left and looked to counter. He connected with a good left hook halfway thru the round. Bivol landed a combination and left hook at the bell.
In round two, Bivol,27, landed three straight right hands to the head. Pascal absorbed the blows and fought back. Bivol (14-0, 11 KOs) stalked and rocked. A solid left to the belly knocked Pascal back a step.
Pascal had lost the first two rounds, but nobody has ever questioned his courage or grit. Bivol continued his consistent attack to the head and body in rounds three and four.
The cagey Pascal (33-6-1 NC, 20 KOs) seemed to already know that to win he needed to hurt Bivol with a big shot. He couldn’t outwork the younger man – so he tried to set traps, but Bivol was sticking to his game plan. His jab was true while his right seemed to stun Pascal. Pascal finally let his hands go more consistently, but connecting solidly was a problem. Bivol landed a crunching right-while Pascal went to the body.
In rounds five and six, Bivol continued to pump his left into Pascal’s face. A three-punch combination also landed. Pascal took two body shots that stopped him in his tracks. He spun Bivol around and landed an overhand right. Bivol fired triple lefts and a right to the head.
Bivol had easily won the first six rounds while Pascal was still looking for that one big punch. A double left hook wobbled Pascal in round seven. The former champion connected with own left a few seconds later, but the impassive Bivol regained control of the fight quickly.
Pascal finally landed a big right hand in round eight that knocked Bivol back a few steps. He went for broke, hoping against hope, that perhaps he could stop Bivol. His power punches mostly drew air as Bivol, showing a solid defense, pummeled him with counter lefts and a sweet uppercut. Pascal dug a shot to the body that had to hurt. Pascal started quickly in round nine. He snapped his jab. Bivol, as if surprised by the sudden burst of activity, waited. Pascal clocked him with another right.
Bivol started round 10 as if he wanted to end the match. His blows landed cleanly, but Pascal, born with a great chin, took them and kept coming. The only other fighter to make a dent in that chin was Sergey Kovalev, who stopped Pascal twice. Bivol couldn’t do it. Pascal went to the body effectively.
With two rounds to go in the contest, Bivol was in complete control. Pascal tried to lull Bivol to sleep in round 11, but the Russia native fired punches in bunches. Pascal, from Quebec, Canada, continued trying in the last round. He leaped in with a left, but Bivol blocked it easily. He fired four lefts and a hard right. The resilient Pascal fired wild shots in the last 10 seconds. None of them landed.
“Every time we shoot for a knockout,” Bivol said in the ring after the fight. “I try to show my boxing skills, also. I hope everyone was happy with the fight and I thank everyone for coming out to watch.”