One more, and that’s it

JEAN PAS­CAL

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - BILL BEACON MON­TREAL —

Jean Pas­cal wants to leave the ring as a win­ner.

The Laval, Que. res­i­dent and former World Box­ing Coun­cil light heavy­weight cham­pion says it will be his fi­nal fight when he takes on lit­tle-known Ahmed El­biali (16-0) on Fri­day night in the main event at the Hi­ahleah Park casino near Mi­ami.

Pas­cal (31-5-1) is only 35 and, in an age when many top box­ers carry on into their 40s, he prob­a­bly could con­tinue for a few more years. But he wants to go out with his men­tal and phys­i­cal fac­ul­ties in­tact.

“It’s an un­for­giv­ing sport,” Pas­cal said this week. “You shouldn’t end on an empty gas tank.

“That’s when there could be phys­i­cal and men­tal dam­age. I’d rather stop when the tank is full.”

How full the tank will be was put in doubt on Wed­nes­day when his early morn­ing flight was de­layed, then can­celled due to an equip­ment prob­lem, forc­ing he and his en­tourage to find an­other plane. He ar­rived in Mi­ami that night.

Pas­cal didn’t chose the op­po­nent or set­ting for his fi­nal bout, which were as­signed by man­ager Al Hay­mon. He no doubt would have pre­ferred to have his fi­nale in Mon­treal or Que­bec City where most of his high pro­file fights were held, in­clud­ing two meet­ings with ring legend Bernard Hopkins and, more re­cently, a pair of crush­ing losses to Rus­sian brawler Sergey Ko­valev.

In­stead he will face 27-year-old El­biali, an Egypt na­tive who grew up in Mi­ami and is con­sid­ered a ris­ing prospect.

El­biali’s list of op­po­nents is mod­est, but he has knocked out 13 of them. Tak­ing down a former cham­pion like Pas­cal would add a big name to his re­sume.

“It feels like a ti­tle fight,” El­biali told fight­hype.com. “I’m a kid, bruh.

“I know it’s not a ti­tle fight, but it’s a big fight for me. Jean Pas­cal is a guy that I used to watch. I never would have thought that I would fight this guy.”

Pas­cal, an at­tack­ing en­ter­tainer in the ring and flashy dresser and en­thu­si­as­tic trash-talker out of it, will go out as one of Canada’s top box­ers of the mod­ern era, per­haps a notch be­low heavy­weight great Len­nox Lewis but in there with Ar­turo Gatti, Otis Grant, Ado­nis Steven­son and other cham­pi­ons.

The Haiti na­tive, whose fam­ily moved to Mon­treal when he was four, won gold at the 2002 Com­mon­wealth Games and rep­re­sented Canada at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

His first big in­ter­na­tional bout as a pro­fes­sional was an hon­ourable de­feat as he lost by de­ci­sion to Bri­tish su­per­mid­dleweight cham­pion Carl Froch in Eng­land in 2008.

Mov­ing up to light heavy­weight, he de­feated Mon­treal-based Adrian Di­a­conu for the WBC ti­tle in June, 2009 and de­fended it four times, in­clud­ing a win over pre­vi­ously un­beaten Chad Daw­son, be­fore be­ing out­wit­ted in his sec­ond bout with savvy vet­eran Hopkins in May ’11.

Pas­cal took bad beat­ings in a pair of ti­tle at­tempts against “Krusher” Ko­valev in 2015 and 2016. He has lost three of his last five fights, in­clud­ing a ma­jor­ity de­ci­sion set­back to Mon­treal-based Colom­bian Elei­der Alvarez in June.

Get­ting back in the ti­tle pic­ture looks un­likely, so it seems a good time to re­tire.

“The im­por­tant thing is to have no re­grets,” said Pas­cal’s trainer Stephan Larouche. “Jean is re­ally mo­ti­vated for this fight.

“If ev­ery­thing worked on merit, this fight would be in Mon­treal, but box­ing rarely works on merit. Jean will fight as well as he can. He’ll do his best. It’s rare that an ath­lete can go out as a win­ner. If that’s how it turns out, it’s even bet­ter. I ad­mire that. I’m one who likes it when box­ers stop at the right time.”

Pas­cal said one of the things he is most proud of is in­spir­ing young­sters to take up the sport, es­pe­cially in the Haitian com­mu­nity. But what he will do af­ter box­ing is up in the air. “All good things come to an end,” he said. “My box­ing ca­reer is end­ing but I’m start­ing a new stage on my life.”

RYAN REMIORZ, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Former world light heavy­weight cham­pion Jean Pas­cal, pic­tured, will fight Ahmed El­biali in Mi­ami in what may be the last bout of his ca­reer.

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