By Dave Spencer at ringside
In a local rematch of global proportions, Jean Pascal (26-1) retained his WBC light-heavyweight with a unanimous 118-110, 117-111, 117-111 decision over fellow Montrealer Adrian Diaconu (25-2) at the Bell Centre in Montreal before a crowd of 8,802 fans. This is the second defense for Pascal who utilized his speed and ring movement and bravely fought the last two rounds with one arm as he returned to his corner after the tenth round grimacing in pain with a separated shoulder. In fact his corner was forced to pop the shoulder back into place a total of three times on the night, the first time coming at the end of the third round.
With Pascal not at one-hundred percent, Diaconu who thought he had won the fight despite all three scorecards being almost identical, failed to take advantage of the opportunities that were there for the taking. Pascal threw a punch to end round three and was in obvious pain as he reached his corner after the bell. It took the champion a full twenty seconds to sit down as he was in that much pain with his corner feverishly working on the arm, putting it back into place and icing it down.
Instead of seizing the opportunity, Diaconu let his opponent off the hook, not attacking Pascal who was more than content to lay on the ropes in hopes of recovering, hanging on and clenching whenever possible. It was one of the few rounds that Diaconu would get the nod, but by the end of it, it was Pascal recovering nicely and landing the cleaner and more effective blows.
Diaconu was able to do some effective work in the next round, going to the body with a double fisted attack, forcing Pascal to drop his hands and then coming back upstairs. Too often though the Romanian would lay in waiting, looking for the perfect shot as Pascal would lay on the ropes but disappearing by the time it could be delivered. Diaconu’s corner implored their fighter to go to the body, asking for a straight jab into the chest of Pascal who showed great head movement and was able to avoid most of the head shots coming his way, but it was a weapon that was under-utilized as Pascal had enough ring savvy to avoid the right hands coming his way and counter effectively with some nice combinations.
Pascal also showed how strong he can be when in the seventh, flipping off his stout opponent while in a clench and popping him with right hand, all in one motion. Diaconu a gifted puncher with both hands didn’t seem effective throwing his left and when the two went toe-to-toe as they did briefly during the round, the exchanges clearly favoured Pascal.
The champion who had captured the belt from Diaconu in June of this year came out blazing for the eighth round, ripping at his body in rapid succession. Pascal was like a hurricane, ripping into the body of the Interbox fighter and simply not stopping and landing well over a dozen shots before forcing Diaconu into the ropes in the most dominant round of the fight. Pascal had clearly put the shoulder issue behind for the time being and was beginning to dominate.
But just as he was beginning to pull away, the closing seconds of round ten again saw Pascal’s shoulder go out once again, forcing the fighter to run for cover, and even attempting to call time as the round ended.
Entering the championship rounds with an ailing champion should have been the daylight that Diaconu needed to seize back the fight and his belt but Pascal jabbed and used his left almost exclusively, keeping the Romanian born fighter off balance and unable to penetrate with anything effective. What should have been an all out assault in the final round saw Diaconu fight at a slow pace, often complaining about punches to the back of the head instead of trying for the knockout that scorecards and most at ringside felt he needed.
Up next for Pascal might be Chad Dawson who holds the ‘Interim’ version of the WBC belt at 175 pounds. Promoter Michel has already indicated that Dawson would be willing to travel north to Montreal but also left open the possibility of a fight with IBF champion Tavoris Cloud.
Former WBC super-middleweight champion Eric Lucas (39-7-3 14KO) got a hero’s welcome after returning to the ring for the first time since retiring in 2006 and delivered with a knockout victory at :43 of the fourth round over Ramon Moyano (27-9-3 15KO) of Argentina. Moyano, son of Carlos Monzon proved to be the perfect opponent, clapping right along with the fans during the prefight introductions and not posing any real threat for the duration, letting Lucas land his solid jab, a handful of crisp combinations and able to make himself entirely hittable but able to take a punch in the early going until a left hook from Lucas put him down for a full ten.
David Lemieux made it a perfect twenty for twenty as he absolutely destroyed Delray Raines (17-7 12KO) of Paris Arkansas, knocking him down three times on his way to a 2nd round knockout at 2:51. Lemieux was brutal in his assault on Raines who did his best at trash talking at the weigh-in, despite not be abling to make weight in his first attempt. After going down from a left hand in the first, Lemieux shrugged to the crowd as he walked to the neutral corner, disappointed in the staying power of his latest victim. Raines managed to get up but from that point forward it was Lemieux opening the floodgates and raining down on Raines, knocking him dwon twice more in the second round. The 20 year-old Lemieux captures the WBC Youth belt with the victory.
Canadian super-lightweight champion Manolis Plaitis (14-0-1 7KO) remained undefeated battling Tebor Brosch (4-3-4 2KO) to a 76-76, 76-76, 77-75 (Plaitis) majority draw. Brosch was riding the momentum of a three fight win streak including two knockout victories in Montreal for the Mississauga Ontario fighter, his only two career stoppages. Brosch was the aggressor throughout but was often short on his punches on Plaitis who exhibited good movement and a solid defense. Brosch was the stronger of the two fighters while Plaitis was the more accurate, making the most of his throws as he countered on the incoming fighter. The draw should theoretically set up a rematch for the two for Plaitis’s Canadian title that was not on the line in this eight round fight.
Former world title challenger Benoit Gaudet (21-2 7KO) got things underway at the Bell Centre in Montreal with a TKO victory at 2:11 of the 3rd round over Jorge Banos (4-6-3) as the corner of Banos pulled the after seeing their man hit the canvas twice in rapid succession. It was the first fight back for Gaudet since challenging for the WBC super-featherweight crown earlier this year versus Humberto Soto in Las Vegas. The Drummondville fighter got off to a slow start but did some good body work in the second and by the time he opened up a bit in the third, was dominant over Banos, taking him down twice with right hands.
Heavyweight Eric Martel of Quebec City posted his third win and second stoppage as he stopped Alston Brown of Vancouver British Columbia. Brown had taken a lot of punishment and referee Gerry Bolen wasted no time as he teetered on the ropes absorbing some big shots from Martel who outweighed “Tini” by close to fifty pounds.
Light-heavyweight Francy Ntetu posted his second victory in as many tries in a swing bout, hurting debuting Ahmad Selemani with a right hand and putting him down with a left in the second round. Despite the knockdown and dominating the action throughout, scores were announced as 40-36 across the board.