Cloud-Pascal match set for this summer
Reports indicate that after a layoff of more than a year, Jean Pascal will finally return to the ring this summer to face IBF champion Tavoris Cloud. According to Pascal, the match is signed, sealed and delivered.
“We made a deal … and we’re just waiting on a TV date from Showtime,” Pascal told Dave Spencer of Fightnews. “I can’t wait to get back in the ring.”
Stylewise, this has the makings of an entertaining scrap. Cloud is an aggressive pressure fighter with thunder in either hand, while Pascal is definitely more comfortable when his opponent comes to him; he’ll be looking to counter Cloud’s attack with flurries of power shots. While Cloud’s better stamina represents a definite edge, Pascal’s advantages in terms of mobility and speed are also significant. Assuming both boxers are in top shape, this should be a dramatic and action-packed distance fight with possibly a few twists and turns along the way.
And yet, while no true boxing fan should ever question a rare showdown between two top-tier battlers, at the same time the match does prompt a few qualms. The most obvious one is: what about Gabriel Campillo?
In his last outing, Cloud defended his title against the talented Spaniard and was extremely fortunate, to put it mildly, to end up on the winning end of a bizarre split-decision that had most ringsiders shaking their heads in disbelief. One judge had it for Campillo by four points, a card that corresponded well with how most people saw the fight. But the other two judges gave it to Cloud, with judge David Robertson awarding the decision to the champion by a margin of six points. As Al Bernstein stated after the decision was announced: “How [Robertson] could arrive at a 116-110 score for Cloud is beyond my comprehension.”
It’s of course ridiculously naive to think Cloud and his people would opt to do the right thing and give Campillo an immediate rematch, but still, someone needs to point out that an injustice is being done. Cloud gets thoroughly outclassed, but is rewarded with a big payday against Pascal; Campillo schools the IBF champion and gets butkus. And people wonder why boxing isn’t as popular as it used to be.
The other question hanging over this fight is whether or not it makes sense for Pascal — after two less than impressive performances in a row and a very long layoff — to jump back in the ring against a hungry champion with something to prove. Think about it: is this any way to manage a young, talented, top-rated fighter?
In August of 2010, Pascal stood atop the light-heavyweight division, in a perfect position to move on to bigger and better things and possibly become one of the sport’s brightest stars. He had impressed many with his rematch title win over Adrian Diaconu when his shoulder separated three times yet he still toughed it out to take a clearcut decision. In his next match Pascal was the underdog against titlist Chad Dawson, then being touted as one of the best in boxing pound-for-pound. A late round fade aside, Pascal showed impressive hustle and deserved to be ahead on points when the referee stopped the bout due to a bad cut suffered by Dawson. The sky then appeared to be the limit for a young, hungry champion with only one loss on his record and a sizable fan base in Montreal. But then along came Bernard Hopkins.
In retrospect, Pascal’s primary weaknesses are obvious; he lacks both physical endurance and mental toughness. Assuming they recognized this, why would Pascal’s people opt to match him up with a wily veteran who not only guarantees to take your fighter the distance, but also promises to fully capitalize on any chinks in his psychological armour? And if they didn’t understand how badly Pascal matched up with Hopkins going into the first fight, how could they fail to have him fully prepared for Hopkins’ mind games going into the rematch?
But more to the point, what reason can there be to let a full year in Pascal’s athletic prime go to waste? In fairness, this past fall it was reported manager Yvon Michel was working to secure a major comeback bout for his fighter against Zsolt Erdei, and following that there was talk of a match with Ismayl Sillakh. But the point is, after the second loss to Hopkins, the immediate goal should have been to get Pascal back in the ring as quickly as possible, no matter the opponent or the payday. There’s no substitute for staying active and piling up wins when you’ve suffered both a loss and, in this case, a thorough psychological manhandling.
Now, after that humiliation and a full year of inactivity, Pascal’s entire career will be on the line when he steps into the ring against a highly motivated Cloud. Here’s hoping Pascal can handle the pressure because if not, he’ll be left winless in his last three fights as he closes in on 30 years of age, with precious few options and little to show for all that promise and potential just a couple years back. – Robert Portis