Kovalev vows to continue fighting only the best

Sport360 staff 03:15 14/03/2015
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Unifying the belts: Kovalev on his way to victory over Bernard Hopkins.

Sergey Kovalev says beating Jean Pascal will see him rise to a new level in his career. The rock-solid Russian puts his IBF, WBA and WBO light-heavyweight titles on the line against the Haitian-born Canadian in his opponent’s backyard at the Bell Centre in Montreal tonight.

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Kovalev overwhelmed veteran Bernard Hopkins last November to unify three of the four major belts in the division. But in Pascal – and the size of the venue and hostile home crowd – the 31-year-old believes he faces his biggest test yet.

“Jean Pascal is a tough boxer and Saturday I will see how tough,” said Kovalev, who has halted 23 of his 26 foes. “For me this fight is very interesting because it is next step in my career, the next test in my career.

“For myself I want to prove who I am on this level, in front in this huge arena, in my first time fighting in a huge arena like this. “We are Russian, we are ready for anything. We are ready to make good fights. It is interesting fight. If I look for easy opponents, it will not be interesting for anyone. Who is the best right now in this division? We will find this out Saturday.”

Pascal, 32, won once in each of the past three years, notably over compatriot and former world champion Lucian Bute at Montreal in January of last year. Last December, Pascal had a tworound no contest with Argentina’s Roberto Bolonti.

Another Haitian-born Canadian, Adonis Stevenson, owns the weight division’s only major crown not at stake tonight. The 37-year-old southpaw is set to defend the WBC throne April 4 at Quebec City against Cameroonborn Australian Sakio Bika.

Kovalev says he wants the chance for an undisputed crown but says he is not thinking ahead to a possible Stevenson matchup. “My next fight is against Pascal,” Kovalev said. “I’m not thinking about anything else.” 

Pascal, who provoked his opponent into a shoving match at the final press conference by knocking his baseball cap off his head used an ice hockey analogy to describe his chances.

“In hockey, Russian players do well during the regular season and then not do well in the play-offs. So I think that, like those hockey players, Kovalev will not be able to perform the same on Saturday night against me as he has in the past against other fighters. Nobody should take me lightly.”

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