By Dave Spencer at ringside
Photo: Tim Snow – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy
WBC light heavyweight world champion Jean Pascal (26-1-1, 16 KOs) retained his belt with a twelve round majority draw against Bernard Hopkins (51-5-1, 32 KOs) on Saturday night in front of 16,500 at the Pepsi Colisee in Quebec City, Canada. After hitting the canvas in three of the first four rounds, one of which was ruled a slip, seemingly ageless Bernard Hopkins came storming back, able to capture a 114-112, 113-113, 114-114 majority draw by dominating the second half of the fight.
“He looked like he was tired from the 5th round to the 12th,” said Hopkins in a highly charged press conference afterwards.
Richard Schaefer, head of Hopkins promoter Golden Boy promised to do whatever was possible to have the decision overturned and have an immediate rematch. “We will use our vast financial resources to sue the WBC, sue the Canadian commission or whatever it is. I am not going to stand here and take this,” Schaefer said if Pascal goes ahead with a rematch with Chad Dawson.
Pascal knocked down Hopkins with a right hand to the ear at the end of round one. Pascal’s bull rush tactics were effective against the future Hall of Famer and Hopkins was dropped again in round three with a left hook. Hopkins had a good round four, but again found himself on the canvas when a right hook from Pascal and had him looking to hold on but having but going down to his knees when the local fighter wasn’t there.
Pascal landed some good shots in round five and it looked at the time that Pascal might be on his way to a dominating performance and that maybe, just maybe the former undisputed middleweight champion may be showing his age.
Hopkins was reaching for the top rope for support after a Pascal right hand and had trouble catching up to speedy youngster, missing wildly and looking bad in the process.
Hopkins turned things around in the sixth though and started to make it his fight as his bodywork started to pay dividends, backing Pascal up against the ropes and making things rough for the champion. The Executioner continued to execute, digging to the body anytime the two clenched.
“He was gasping for air every time I went to the body,” said Hopkins. “I just kept coming forward throwing punches, throwing punches.”
Pascal became less and less willing to engage as the rounds went on with his hard charging opponent starting to dominate on the inside. During one clench in the eighth Hopkins managed four strong right hands while Pascal landed a glancing uppercut. With Pascal in the corner in the same round, Hopkins not only got some good shots in but was able to outmuscle and tied up Pascal who tried to spin out.
Hopkins began the championship rounds by having the tape fixed on his gloves, a veteran move that would be a prelude of a veteran having to pull a fight out of the fire. The Philadelphia fighter threw everything at the defending champion in the 11th round, where there were several good toe-to-toe exchanges. Digging rights to the body, forearms, borderline and below the borderline low blows and Pascal being pushed down to the canvas had Hopkins not only winning the round, but doing it in punishing fashion. Hopkins jumped on Pascal in round twelve and both closed the show swinging. Pascal would win only one round from each of the judges in the final seven, but it would prove enough to retain his belts with the stalemate.
“No matter what Jean did, he found a way to adapt to everything,” said Pascal’s cornerman Russ Anber, echoing the sentiments of trainer Marc Ramsey. “He made a great performance and Jean stayed right with him.”
Hopkins, who turns 46 on January 15th, was bidding to become the oldest man to win a major world title in boxing history.
“George Foreman’s record was really important to me,” said Hopkins afterwards, “I love what I do, and winning to me is everything, but tomorrow is new day and people in boxing have short memories, trust me.”
Paulie Malignaggi (28-4 6KO) made his debut at welterweight and with his new Golden Boy promoters a successful one with a stoppage of former world title challenger Michael Lozado (36-7-1 29KO) at 2:33 of the 6th round. It was hard to figure at times what the game plan was at times for Malignaggi who faced a weaker caliber opponent than what he is usually is accustomed to. “It took me a little bit to figure that “m at a higher level than this type of opponent,” said the Brooklyn fighter who scored his first stoppage since 2003. At times he was the slick boxer we’ve been accustomed to but other times the “magic” was delivered in the form of a solid right hand, with Malignaggi stepping on the accelerator and dominating the fight. By the sixth round it was clear that Lozado no longer wanted to fight, continually turning away from the action, complaining to the referee and lifting the leg of his opponent, a move that cost him a point, the end coming with referee Jean Guy Brosseau stopping the action with Lozado in trouble the corner absorbing shots from an aggressive Malignaggi.
Middleweight contender Daniel Jacobs (21-1 18KO) rebounded from his only career defeat with a 5th round stoppage of Jessie Orta (7-14-2) of Dallas Texas. Jacobs who was stopped this past July by Dmitry Pirog began slowly but was hard and accurate throughout. Orta’s corner decided to throw in the towel as the 5th round was coming to an end with Jacob’s landing a series of punishing right hands with his opponent backed up against the ropes.
Undefeated middleweight Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin (22-0 16KO) made short work of Martin Desjardins (7-19-4 3KO) as boxing action gets underway in advance of tonight’s Pascal-Hopkins light-heavyweight title match in Quebec City, Canada. Quillin caught the usual rugged journeyman with a right hook behind the ear and sent Desjardins down to the canvas at 2:53 of the opening round. It was only the third time in Desjardin’s career that he has been stopped, the first being from tonight’s headliner, Jean Pascal.
Heavyweight Tyson Fury (13-0 9KO) remained undefeated with a clean sweep of the scorecards, scoring a 80-72 (x3) decision over last minute opponent Zack Page (21-33-2). The fight was far from a “page” turner for Fury who was making his North American debut and was able to have both hands at his waist and pick his shots along the way. Page’s main offense seemed to be a driving left shoulder and a tight bear hug on his hulking opponent. Page gave away over 45 pounds of weight and 9 inches in height to the mammoth Manchester mauler. Fury managed to up his work rate in the final three rounds but Page was never in any serious danger of being stopped and has now has lost his last six of his last seven.
After three rounds of domination from hometown welterweight Kevin Bizier (13-0 9KO), Ronnie Warrior (13-4-1 4KO) did not answer the bell for the fourth round. It was only the second time fighting in hometown of Quebec City for Bizier who was easily landing four or more punch combinations throughout the contest over the southpaw from Oklahoma City in what was scheduled for eight.
Eric Martel Bahoeli (6-0 3KO) remained undefeated in a 60-54 shutout of Ruben Rivera (3-5 1KO) of Puerto Rico in heavyweight action. In his last visit to Canada, the rotund Rivera was able to give undefeated Wayne John all he could handle and almost pulled off the upset, losing a split decision. Martel though managed to stay strong throughout, firing off his shots and retreating from harms way against Rivera who was waiting to counter. After taking what was given to him and landing some good shots to the body, the last half of the fight saw Martel loading up, looking for the perfect shot but missing with increasingly wider shots. Neither fighter connected with very much after round three, but Martel was clearly the aggressor over the running and surviving Rivera.