Although Jean Pascal hasn’t been seen in a ring for more than nine months, he hasn’t been far away.
In fact, if you peak through the ropes on any given night as you’re watching the week’s action on television, there’s a good chance you’ll see the former RING light heavyweight champion seated ringside.
An avid fan of the sport he thrives in, Pascal is a mainstay at not just the major fights, but anywhere anyone is staging a boxing match. Recently, the Laval, Quebec resident was even spotted at two local club shows in Southern California.
In the same night.
“I love studying other boxers and learning by watching and analyzing,” Pascal told RingTV.com. “I guess you could call me — hopefully — a student of the sport.”
If Pascal (26-2-1, 16 knockouts) were to step away from the action and watch for a while, he could be forgiven. In today’s boxing landscape, the 29-year old has had one of the toughest schedules of any high-level fighter. Since entering title contention in 2008, he has been in the ring with Carl Froch, Chad Dawson, and Adrian Diaconu, plus Bernard Hopkins twice.
He insists, though, that he never really left the gym during the layoff.
“I did spend lots of time with my coaches, working on weaknesses and building strengths. The time was well-spent,” said Pascal. “With the next opponent soon chosen, my coaches and I will look at where I am in fitness and mentality, and then build strengths from there.”
He is being forced to spend a few days away from the gym, however. Ever the Canadian, Pascal recently took to the ice with his pal and ex-NHL enforcer George Laraque. Apparently the former champion had a little too much competitive spirit in him, as he suffered a minor shoulder injury.
The injury won’t delay his next bout, but it is the latest in a series of frustrating setbacks. A rumored bout with Tavoris Cloud last December never materialized, and a more recent one with Zsolt Erdei fell through due to what is being reported elsewhere as a “lack of funds.”
Pascal says he just wants to get back to work, and that he’s tired of the entitlement displayed by other fighters in the division.
“I needed to earn my place among the leaders in the division. People need to shark their way up to the top before they can demand a big fight. Fights are business and the public is interested in match-ups that promise to be of the highest standard, especially in today’s economy,” said Pascal.
It’s doubtful that anyone would disagree with him there, but he does have one controversial opinion as it pertains to what certain fighters are entitled to. Pascal is one of the few who believe Cloud’s recent decision victory over Gabriel Campillo was scored correctly by the judges.
“To win a fight against a champion, you need to be compelling. I think the fight was close, and so, the champion in those cases should retain his crown,” believes Pascal.
No doubt the former champ wishes the judges felt the same way last time he was in the ring against Bernard Hopkins, but he’s not looking to take any kind of “confidence boosting” fight next. Atop his wish list currently are fellow countryman Lucian Bute, who just signed to fight Froch on May 26, and a rematch with Chad Dawson.
In truth, Pascal could fight just about anybody in his home province and would likely sell the venue out. According to the full-time fighter and full-time fan, though, there’s plenty of talent to keep the turnstiles spinning in Quebec — not just in the meantime, but for years to come.
“Antonin Decarie is a great welterweight, Adonis Stevenson is a promising super middleweight, Arash Usmanee is a promising welterweight, and Eleider (Alvarez) is a fantastic hope for the future,” predicts Pascal. “Quebec has a bright future in boxing.”
Corey Erdman is also the host of RingTV Radio. Follow him on Twitter @corey_erdman
photo by Javiel Centeno/Fightwireimages.com