Unified Light Heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev will defend his belts against former champion Jean Pascal on Saturday, January 30th, 2016 at the Bell Center in Montreal, Canada.

The Bell Center  is the same venue where Kovalev stopped Pascal in the 8th round of an action-filled fight in March of 2015. Pascal gave Kovalev plenty of trouble early before the Krusher finally halted his stubborn challenger in the middle rounds. But with a new trainer in tow, Pascal believes that their rematch will end differently.

New Trainer

In November of 2015, Pascal turned to famed trainer Freddie Roach to help him reboot his career. In going with Roach, Pascal dropped Marc Ramsay, the Montreal based trainer who had worked with him since he was 13 and who guided him to a place in the Canadian 2004 Olympic team and the WBC Light Heavyweight title in 2009. However, Ramsay will continue to work with Pascal between training camps. The move to hire Roach was seen as a preparation for his rematch with Kovalev, although Pascal says that he did that to have a new voice that could give his career a second wind after his losses to Bernard Hopkins and Kovalev. Pascal rebounded from his loss to Kovalev with a 10-round unanimous decision win over Yunieski Gonzalez. The victory also earned him a second date with the Krusher.

Retiring Pascal

Kovalev has been linked to a big money fight with American superstar and former Super Middleweight title holder Andre Ward later this year. But before he sets a date with Ward, he will have to settle unfinished business.  While Pascal says that the rematch will end differently, Kovalev promises that he will complete the job he believes he didn’t last March. The Russian Krusher says that the referee didn’t just save Pascal from further punishment in their first bout, he saved Pascal from career retirement. This time around, Kovalev says he will retire Pascal for good. There has been a lot of animosity between the fighters since their first encounter and all of that will culminate on January 30th when they meet once again at the center of the ring.

Who Takes This?

Like in their first encounter, Kovalev is the heavy favorite to defeat Pascal. This time around, he is a -2500 favorite versus Pascal’s +1000. Although Pascal gave Kovalev some problems during their first encounter, he was still able to turn the tables and come away with an impressive and decisive KO win. Kovalev is one of the rising stars in the sport and pundits are saying that his true test will be against Ward, not Pascal. Pascal may have changed trainers but in doing so, he will have to adjust with Freddie Roach’s style. Pascal does possess the power to change the fight with one punch, but the question is if he can land it against the technically superior Kovalev. Pascal was visibly off his game in his last fight with Yunieski Gonzalez and if he wants to beat Kovalev, he and Roach will have to fight the perfect game plan. Having said that, experts are predicting a KO win by Kovalev, probably in the fifth or sixth rounds.

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