ON Saturday December 28 in Atlanta, Georgia, Jean Pascal takes on Badou Jack in a fascinating 12-rounder between two top 10 light-heavyweights. Both fighters boxed in the Olympics as amateurs (Pascal in 2004, Jack in 2008), while each have held WBC titles in the past (Pascal at 175lbs, Jack at 168).
Here, the vastly experienced Pascal speaks to Boxing News about his motivation ahead of the Jack fight, his Hall of Fame aspirations and his memories of his two bouts with Bernard Hopkins.
You have been a professional for almost 15 years now. How do you maintain the hunger and desire to keep putting yourself through tough training camps?
My hunger is stronger than ever right now. I’m fighting to further cement my legacy. I want to be remembered in 100 years from now. I’m fighting for my Haitians, my Canadians and my fans all over the world, so I’m very motivated to continue. This is what drives me and keeps me focused during training camp.
You became the first man to defeat Marcus Browne earlier this year. Was that a make-or-break fight for you? Would you have questioned your future in the sport if you had lost?
No, Marcus Browne is a good fighter but he’s never been in the ring with an animal like me. There are levels to this. I’ve been at the highest level of boxing for over 11 years and I’m still here. I believe losing can be an important part of success. After my loss to Dmitry Bivol [in November 2018], the more I wanted to win. I needed that experience to push me. It made me work even harder and that determination paid off with my victory over Marcus Browne.
Before you defeated Browne, Badou Jack lost to him. Does that give you extra confidence going into the fight on December 28? What is your opinion of Jack as a fighter, overall?
Styles make fights and I don’t look too much into that. Badou Jack is a solid fighter, regardless of his loss to Marcus Browne. I’m preparing for the best Badou Jack and I think he’s a warrior. I’m confident that I will win this, but it has nothing to do with his fight against Marcus. I’m ready for him.
Your fight with Jack is a final eliminator for the WBC light-heavyweight title, currently held by Artur Beterbiev. He is based in Quebec, like you. Does the prospect of having a big fight against Beterbiev in Canada give you added motivation to beat Jack?
I take it one fight at a time and right now it’s all about Badou Jack. Until I deal with him, the prospect of every big fight out there doesn’t matter at all to me.
Your old rival, Bernard Hopkins, is being enshrined in the International Boxing Hall of Fame next year. What are your memories of your two fights with him? And do you believe that one day you will make it into the Hall of Fame?
I remember winning both fights. [The first contest was declared a majority draw, while the second was awarded to Hopkins on a close unanimous decision.] The first fight, I dropped him three times but the referee only counted two knockdowns – I easily won seven rounds. As for the second fight, I felt I won that one as well. Any close rounds should go to the champion because you have to beat the champion to become champion. They just wanted to make him the oldest boxer to win a world title – that’s the main reason I lost. As for the Hall of Fame, yes, I do believe I will make it. I’m blessed to be at this level in my career and I’m looking forward to displaying my talents once again on December 28 in Atlanta.
Another man you have fought twice is Sergey Kovalev. Would you like the chance to get revenge against Kovalev in a third fight?
Ask me that again after my upcoming fight. Right now, it’s all about Badou Jack.
You are 37 years old now, but you are still in great physical shape, as you have always been throughout your career. How much longer do you see yourself fighting for?
I think I have a few years left to compete at the highest level. I’ve learned to block out the noise and follow my instinct. I’m not doing it for the money – I genuinely love this sport.