Photos: Robert Uzzell/TheFightJournal.com
Story by: Chip Mitchell
(Atlantic City, NJ) – In my first visit to Atlantic City’s Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena, I witnessed a dominating performance by WBA World lightweight champion Dmitry Bivol, (15-0, 11 KOs). Bivol shut down former lineal light-heavyweight champion Jean Pascal, (33-6-1, 20 KOs) to win a unanimous decision. Scores were 117-111 (Henry Eugene Grant) and 119-109 twice (Lynne Carter and Carlos Ortiz).
While the victory may have not been easy on the fan’s eyes, Bivol gained rounds of experience against a former champion…. rounds that could help him against future world class rivals. It’s the second straight fight the above holds true as Bivol also went the distance with Isaac Chilemba, a multiple world title challenger.
Bivol was a wide favorite in a fight where most ringside observers thought a knockout was a given. Early on, Bivol showed the same composure he did in the later rounds. He connected with a few right hands early on as Pascal seemed to have problems with his balance.
Pascal retaliated with wild shots as Bivol blocked most and avoided others.
In the fourth round, Pascal attempted to go on the offensive and landed a head shot and a few body shots for his troubles. Bivol remained unfazed.
At this point in the fight, I mentioned to some colleagues on press row that Pascal needed to fight dirty. Come inside and rough Bivol up. It was his only chance to win this fight.
In the next couple of rounds, each time Pascal tried to get off, Bivol had an answer, mainly through being more active. He kept Pascal moving backwards and kept throwing combinations, if only to merely keep Pascal off.
I still kept wondering if Pascal would muck the fight up a bit to test Bivol.
Pascal finally did in the 8th round. He made a late push and found success as he came out by storm and caught Bivol with a few shots during what seemed to be a 50 punch flurry. Pascal should’ve employed this strategy much earlier in the fight.
In the end, Pascal failed to show a sense of urgency and Bivol was content to outbox him until the end while not taking any risks.
Although it wasn’t easy on the eyes, it was a masterpiece by Bivol versus a world class opponent. Bivol held Pascal to 17% connect rate while he landed at 32%, including 44% of his power shots. He also tripled Pascal up on the jabs thrown, while connecting on 84 more jabs.
Bivol has some options at light-heavy and apparently super middleweight. Bivol is a small at the weight and he’s shown a willingness to drop down to 168, only if it’s Canelo Alvarez or Callum Smith.
At 175, he has options including Eleider Alvarez, Adonis Stevenson, Badou Jack, Sergey Kovalev, Oleksandr Gvozdyk, and Artur Beterbiev amongst others.
In the co-feature, Murodjon “MJ” Ahkmadaliev, (5-0, 4 KOs) defeated tough as nails Isaac Zarate (16-4-3, 2 KOs), as he defended his WBA Intercontinental super bantamweight belt with a ninth round TKO.
Eventually the accumulation of punches caused the referee to halt the bout at 1:17 of the 9th round.
Heavyweight Sergiy Kuzmin of Russia (14-0, 11 KOs) dropped LaRon Mitchell of San Francisco (16-2, 14 KOs) four times on the way to a sixth round TKO win. The “Russian Bear” retains his WBA Intercontinental title.
Logan “Korican Kid” Yoon, (14-0, 11 KOs), scored a 5th round TKO over Hamzrah Sempewo (12-11, 6 KOs) to remain undefeated.
Karl Dargan, (19-1, 9 KOs), won a unanimous decision over Moises Delgadillo (17-18-2, 9 KOs) in a lightweight bout. Hopefully Dargan will be more active in 2019 after being off for three years prior to his last fight. His wife, singer Lil Mo was in attendance. Also in attendance were Snoop from The Wire and local boxer Thomas “Cornflake’ LaManna.
Heavyweight Evgeny Tishchenko, (3-0, 2 KO) scored a KO over Cristian Mariscal, (11-2, 5 KOs).
Israil “The Dream” Madrimov (1-0, 1 KO) won his pro debut over Vladimir Hernandez(10-3, 6 KOs) by TKO in a junior middleweight bout.
Shakhram Giyasov, (5-0, 4 KOs,) scored a TKO of Miguel Zamudio, (41-11-1, 25 KOs) in the first round of a super lightweight bout.