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It’s fight week in Montreal and WBC Light Heavyweight No. 1 contender Eleider Alvarez and former 175-pound champ Jean Pascal came face to face ahead of their co-featured bout that opens this Saturday’s SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast live at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
Alvarez (22-0, 11 KOs) is undefeated and the mandatory challenger for Adonis Stevenson’s WBC belt, but he’ll face the toughest test of his career Saturday night in Pascal (31-4-1, 18 KOs), a former WBC 175-pound champion who has faced some of the world’s best light heavyweights over the past decade.
A 2008 Colombian Olympian fighting out of Montreal, Alvarez worked his way into the mandatory position for the WBC title with victories over Isidro Ranoni Prieto and Isaac Chilemba in 2015. He followed those up with wins over Robert Berridge and Norbert Dabrowski before his most recent matchup that saw him deliver a sensation fifth round knockout over former world champion Lucian Bute.
Originally from Haiti, Pascal and his family moved to Canada when he was a child and began boxing at the age of 13. He would eventually become one of the most accomplished fighters from Montreal. Pascal became a world champion in 2009 when he defeated previously unbeaten Adrian Diaconu. He would go on to defend the title three times, including a victory over Chad Dawson. After losing his title to Bernard Hopkins, Pascal has picked up victories over Lucian Bute, Yuniesky Gonzalez and most recently Ricardo Ramallo in addition to two challenges of former unified world champion Sergey Kovalev.
Here’s what the fighters had to say on Tuesday:
“He has a lot of experience, but experience can be negative sometimes. He’s experienced, but he has negative experiences and losses, too. I don’t think it will be a factor Saturday night.
“My style will be an advantage. I’m taller, I have a longer reach, and a better jab. My footwork is better, too. So I think my style is my advantage.
“I’m fully ready for my title shot. I’ve been ready for 18 months, but for some reason it didn’t happen. I’m ready to face everybody. I’m probably in the toughest division in boxing right now, but once Stevenson comes I’ll be ready.
“I didn’t wait 18 months to become a world champion for nothing. I won’t give a victory to Pascal. I’ve waited for 18 months for my chance and I won’t give it to Pascal.
“Sparring with him (Pascal) is an advantage, but it was a long time ago and now he’s changed teams. So I don’t know what he’s done in his training camp this time.
“Marc (Ramsay) taught me some tricks, but I already know Jean Pascal because I trained with him and sparred with him for a while. It’s an advantage to have Marc, but it can be different and you never know what he’ll bring to the ring this time around.”
“Winning is the only option for me.
“I’ve been in some battles, but my tank is still full.
“I’ve faced way better opposition than him. I’ve been there, done that on the big stage. This is a big, big fight, and I’ve been here before. That’s the thing with experience – you can’t buy experience. You have to live it, and I’ve lived it many times. I’m ready to be on the big stage once again.
“Training camp went really well. I was with Roy Jones Jr. and Stephane Larouche and we stayed in Montreal for the whole camp. We had no injuries and we’re ready to go on Saturday.
“Sparring with Alvarez isn’t really an advantage for me. The last time we sparred was like two or three years ago. I know him, but he knows me also. I actually have two strikes against me – he knows me well, but his coach knows me by heart because he’s my former coach. But none of that matters. I’ve done my homework and I know what to do in the ring.
“Right now my focus is on Alvarez. After the referee raises my hand and we’ll see what’s next.”
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