By Dave Spencer / Fightnews Canada
The WBC light-heavyweight belt changed hands Friday night, but not postal codes. Jean Pascal (23-1 15KO) was able to walk away with 115-112, 116-112, 116-111 decision over Adrian Diaconu (26-1 15KO), taking his cross-town rival’s belt and local bragging rights in what was an extremely exciting fight in front of 13,569 ravenous Bell Centre fans. Pascal scored a knockdown in the 5th round over a back peddling Diaconu. Pascal called the shot a left jab, while the Diaconu side saw it more as a hook, but the result was the same, Diaconu down on the canvas taking an eight count from referee Marlon Wright and the momentum beginning to swing Pascal’s way.
Moments later Diaconu was down again, but this time it was due to a push and the combatants were ordered to fight on. Diaconu was able to turn the tables quickly and came back in the same round, buzzing Pascal with power shots and hurting him as the exhilarating stanza came to close.
“It was my plan to dance around, I knew that I was quicker than him and smarter than him and he’d tire, and that’s why I’m the NEW…” said Pascal of the strategy that kept him on his bike for the first four rounds.
“He’s never followed a specific strategy like that,” said trainer Marc Ramsay of his first world champion. “It was a complex strategy and he followed it very well. He learned a lot from the Carl Froch fight, this isn’t the end of something tonight, this is just the beginning of something. You’re going to Jean Pascal get better and better.”
It was the most impressive performance to date for Pascal who left it all in the ring, so much so that his arrival at the post-fight press-conference was delayed as he recuperated and rehydrated. “I emptied the gas tank,” he said of the championship win. “I did my best, I threw some bombs, he threw some bombs and at the end I was exhausted and I was really happy that was the final round.”
Diaconu tipped his hat to the new champ, congratulating him on the perfect fight and fight strategy. “Jean is smart guy,” said Diaconu who was making the first defense of the belt he won over a year ago versus Chris Henry. He was hitting, moving. I think I did the best I could. I expected Jean to come to fight but it was just throw punch and run, throw punch and run. Smart fight.”
The Romanian born Diaconu had trouble catching up with the fleet footed Pascal and was rarely allowed more than one shot at a time. Pascal who moved up from super-middleweight put in an incredible effort on the inside against the strong Diaconu. At times it was a true role reversal as Pascal was constantly the stronger man on the inside, making things physical and negating the power of the former champion who complained of ring rust.
“I was waiting too long for this fight; I’m supposed to have two or three fights a year and I’ve only had three in three years. I’m disappointed, that’s normal, but that’s boxing.”
The faces of each boxer told the tale of this one after all was said and done. Pascal was not looking any worse for wear while Diaconu’s looked like psychedelic kaleidoscope, bruised, battered and beaten. He had his moments, especially in the final two rounds where the fighters fully engaged, bringing the crowd that was split fairly evenly to its feet, but had trouble following up on anything and allowed Pascal to escape.
“What was missing tonight was a couple of combinations,” said Diaconu’s trainer Pierre Bouchard. “He still has some rust in his body like an old car in a garage, but some fluidity at times cost us the fight. He deserved the win, but we want a rematch for sure.”
No doubt the two will meet up in the ring again. Up next for Pascal will be mandatory Silvio Branco and there is a rematch clause in the contract. Diaconu’s Interbox promoter now holds options and will co-promote Pascal for three fights.