Trainer Freddie Roach had a tough task last Saturday night, as he was in the corner of former light heavyweight champion, Jean Pascal in a rematch against Sergey Kovalev, a fight that was extremely one sided. Roach was forced to stop the fight in the 7th round, as Pascal was taking too many shots and was offering little in return and Sergey Kovalev retained his WBA/IBF/WBO titles.
In part 1 of my “On The Ropes” boxing radio interview with Freddie Roach, I get his thoughts on the Pascal-Kovalev fight from last weekend and his views on the decision he had to make in the corner. Roach also talks about why he thinks Pascal struggled so much in the bout and gives his thoughts on Jean’s future. Additionally, Freddie breaks down the potential Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev fight. Here is what Freddie Roach had to say.
Jenna J: This past weekend you were training Jean Pascal for his fight against Sergey Kovalev. What did you see from that fight?
Freddie Roach: Well Pascal was taking shots from the beginning of the fight on, and Kovalev’s power was too much for him from the first round on right through the whole fight. Kovalev hurt him almost in every round. He was just too strong and too big for him and I didn’t want to see him get hurt.
I did worry about him, and I was going to stop the fight in the sixth round and then he pleaded to get one more round and I told him, “If you don’t go out there and show me that you can win the fight, I’m gonna stop it.” He went out there and lost the round badly again, so I stopped the fight.
I did have a talk with the referee and I told him to keep a close eye on him after the sixth round, because I was worried about him a little bit because he was taking some big shots and I just don’t like that in boxing, there’s no need for people to take beatings like that. There’s always another day if he comes back, but not against Kovalev at least because Kovalev has knocked him out twice in a row and we don’t need that anymore.
Jenna J: In that fight, did Pascal just not have it on the night?
Freddie Roach: In the gym the sparring was a little bit difficult but on the mitts the game plan worked out very well. The last week of sparring he did much better and he boxed well, he used his left hand which his brother told me that I wouldn’t get him to do because he’ll use it in the gym but he never uses it in the fight. I lost that bet, because I told him he would use his left hand in the fight and he didn’t.
Pascal’s a pretty good boxer when he wants to be but at this point I’m not sure what the problem is because his last three fights he hasn’t looked really like himself, he’s looking for just a one punch home run to try to get a little bit lucky. I will have a long talk with him about maybe retiring, maybe it’s time, maybe he needs some time off.
I’m not sure what the answer is right now but the performance he had the other night, at this point there’s really no future until we have a good talk about it. The doctors did check him out and they gave him the green light, he’s okay, there’s no serious damage, but I think he did break his nose really bad in the fight too, but I’m really not worried about a broken nose so much.
Jenna J: Being that you’ve seen Sergey Kovalev close up, how do you think he does against Andre Ward if they meet up?
Freddie Roach: Kovalev is a good friend of mine, going into the fight we were friends, during the press conferences maybe not so friendly but we shook hands again afterwards. He’s a respectful person and I am too to him, he’s a very nice guy. I wish him the best in that fight. I think he’s too big and strong for Ward.
I know Ward’s a great boxer but he’s been off for a long time and he hasn’t improved with the downtime, his comeback fight was not that great against not that great of an opponent. I know Andre Ward was one of the best boxers in the world, but I think the layoff’s are gonna hurt him and I think Kovalev might be too strong for him. I like both fighters, I’m friendly with both fighters and I wish them both luck. I do want to watch that fight, I want to see that fight.