Old road and prestigious Quebec boxer returned to the ring. Jean-Pascal defeats Meng Fanlong on Friday night by unanimous decision, making him the first contender for the International Boxing Federation (IBF) crown.
“I gave 12 good rounds. I’m back,” Pascal said after the fight.
In addition to the victory, he set out on the road to Artur Beterbiev, the reigning champion in the IBF and WBC light heavyweight categories.
However, it won’t be until June 18 as the Russian will face WBO champion Joe Smith Jr. to unify the titles.
The crowd of the city in the suburbs of Tampa demonstrated its love for Laval. “I could have done 24 rounds,” he said after a few push-ups after the fight.
It was a return that was not easy for the 39-year-old Quebecer. Pascal had not fought since December 28, 2019, against Badou Jack, in particular, because of a six-month suspension because of sports doping.
China’s Meng (17-1, 10 KOs) was a formidable opponent. The judges handed out cards 115-112, 114-113, and 116-111 in favor of Pascal (36-6-1, 20 KOs).
“Honestly, he was more aggressive than I thought. He’s a good fighter,” he said.
Despite a rough start to the fight, he regained the ascendancy as he went along.
“My synchronism wasn’t good at first. […] (After), I had to push and push again. I was trying to send it to the carpet.
The match was in two stages. Fanlong led the portion, then the rest by Pascal.
As early as the second round, Meng found a gap in the defense and managed to give a solid left in Pascal’s face. He was shaken but did not visit the carpet.
The Chinese hit the former WBA light heavyweight champion in the lead a few times in the next round.
In the fourth round, Pascal appeared galvanized after a beautiful right sent his rival to the mat. The pace of the fight accelerated after that.
Jean-Pascal returned to the charge in the next round and gave a good right hook to the 34-year-old boxer’s face.
The seventh-round saw Pascal gain confidence and approach his rival several times. The five-foot-10-inch Quebecer had to work hard to get close to his six-foot-two-inch opponent.
At the end of the ninth round, Pascal again had his rival on the mat. The Chinese man was saved by the bell and was able to come to his senses.
Pascal tried to take the lead with repeated assaults in the tenth round, which seemed to exhaust his rival.
The former Olympian still scored several points by reaching the Quebecer many times.
The eleventh round began under “ole! ole” to support Pascal.
The final round saw Fanlong end up on the mat again, despite the fan seeming to dictate the pace. Pascal pounced on his rival in the last thirty seconds, beating him.
The quarterfinals of the “Last Chance Tournament” series of pugilists under 140 pounds were presented as a sub-card.
In an eight-round format, the tournament featured boxers who had lost essential fights and gave them the chance to return to the forefront.
Antonio Moran defeated Jeffrey Torres by unanimous decision and will face Michael Dutchover in the semifinals. The latter took the measure of Clarence Booth by split decision.
Kendo Castaneda made the first knockout of the evening. He sent his rival, Sonny Fredrickson, to the mat, and the official immediately ended the fight in the first round.
In his semifinal, he will face Joseph Fernandez. The American defeated Zhimin Wang by unanimous decision.