Jean Pascal faces the biggest test of his career this Saturday when he takes on Sergey Kovalev in the main event of HBO’s World Championship Boxing. Before that though, we take a look back at his first major fight on the big stage.
While Pascal’s greatest successes have come one division north at light heavyweight, back in 2008, he was an undefeated super middleweight prospect chasing his first shot at world honours. That opportunity finally came for him when the WBC, looking to fill the void left by the retirement bound Joe Calzaghe, mandated that Pascal take on another of the division’s unbeaten rising stars, Carl Froch for their vacant belt. The match was made for December 6th in Froch’s hometown of Nottingham.
At the time, both men were well regarded within their respective domestic scenes, but neither yet had been given much exposure internationally. They had each fought abroad only once and in neither case was it in a particularly high profile bout. Froch was at this point 23-0, having already been English, British and Commonwealth champion; it was time to take the step up to the next level. Likewise for Pascal; the Canadian based Haitian had run his record to 21-0, picking up the NABO, NABF and NABA belts along the way and was ready to try his hand against the top contenders at 168.
This bout falls at an interesting point on the timeline because less than one year later both guys were very much on the radar of boxing fans worldwide. Froch would be heading into the Super Six after having just knocking out Jermain Taylor on Showtime, while Pascal would have by that time captured and twice defended the WBC light heavyweight title and would soon be meeting Chad Dawson for the lineal championship.
It is arguable that this contest paved the way for everything that was to follow from both men. However, at the time it happened, the fight was only really a news story in the UK. If you got your first introduction to either Froch or Pascal on US Premium cable, you would be forgiven for not knowing they had battled each other, or at least, for having not seen the fight.
That would be a shame though because it was among the best fights of 2008 and it’s up there with the best fights of either man’s career. This is two guys going into their first world title fight hungry. There’s no testing the water. It’s all action from the word go of a twelve round war, and for eight of those rounds, there was absolutely nothing to split them. Sometimes from great fights emerge great fighters.