THE camps of unified world light-heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev and challenger Jean Pascal have clashed ahead of their rematch this Saturday at the Bell Centre in Montreal, televised exclusively live in the UK on BoxNation.
There is genuine hatred between both fighters in the build up to the return – Kovalev won the first fight with an eighth round stoppage in March last year – and it could be even spicier second time around with Kovalev’s WBO, IBF and WBA Super World titles on the line again.
At the pre-fight press conference this week it turned nasty when Pascal started handing out bananas to black members of the audience, including Kovalev’s trainer John David Jackson, a former two-weight world champion, who had to be restrained from going after Paschal by security guards.
This was in response to alleged racist comments made by Kovalev to Pascal.
“Do you want to keep it for your black coach?” Pascal said to Kovalev as he held up a banana. “Black people, do you want some?”
Russian ace Kovalev dismissed Pascal’s comments when it was his turn to speak on the podium. He said, “Everybody knows what is true,” Kovalev said. “But you will see on Saturday. It will be a personal fight for me.”
Jackson defended his charge, saying he wouldn’t be working Kovalev’s corner if he was a racist. “It’s not about race. Sergey may say things where at the time when he says them, they may come out wrong, but if he was racist, I wouldn’t be in his corner.”
Canadian Pascal, a former WBC world champion at light-heavyweight, continued his rant accusing Jackson of only coming into the Kovalev camp a few weeks before the fight because Kovalev doesn’t trust him.
“He [Kovalev] came to you for three weeks before the fight. He don’t trust you because you’re black. He doesn’t respect you,” said Pascal.
Jackson fired back, “Is that all? Why is Marc [Ramsey, Pascal’s former trainer] not here. Because he knows you’re getting knocked out in this fight. That’s why he’s not here. No other reason. He told you you’re gonna get knocked out this fight. Yeah, put the mic away now, because that’s true. You know that’s true. That’s why you’re stuck right here.”
With security called in to calm the camps down, Jackson said to Pascal, “Shut the **** up, you had your time” and challenged him to a fight outside. “Come outside and you’ll get knocked out.”