This past Saturday, on the undercard of the Sergey Kovalev vs. Nadjib Mohammedi fight, Jean Pascal (30-3-1, 17 KO’s) won a very controversial unanimous decision victory over Cuban slugger Yunieski Gonzalez (16-1, 12 KO’s). As soon as the 95-93 scorecards were read, the HBO cast consisting of Jim Lampley, Max Kellerman, and Bernard Hopkins, voiced their disbelief in how that decision came about. But I asked myself, not totally convinced with HBO’s analysis of the fight, was this really another case of blatant injustice toward the lesser known fighter, or was this another case of HBO’s commentators getting carried away in their calling of the fight?
I took it upon myself to do what I think most boxing aficionados should do whenever theres a controversial decision (if you have the luxury of DVR) and watched the fight again with the sound on mute. After reviewing the fight again, here is my round by round analysis of what I saw.
Before I begin, I must say this is honestly one of the hardest fights I can remember having to score. Besides the first and tenth round, which were clear rounds for Gonzalez. The fourth and ninth round, which were clear rounds for Pascal, this fight was highly competitive with a large amount of exciting trading in the middle of the ring. During this trading, despite what the HBO cast opined, it was unclear to see who really got the better of the exchanges.
Like I mentioned before, Gonzalez stormed out in the first round on a mission to make a statement, and pummeled Pascal with two looping right hands that clearly got Pascal’s attention. Gonzalez, also known as the “Monster,” continued his attack by getting Pascal on the ropes and letting bombs go with both hands, but landing only one memorable left hook. Pascal was able to get a few shots in response in the end of the round, but the first round clearly belonged to Gonzalez.
Gonzalez came out for the second round landing a couple of hard jabs to set up a hard right hook to the body. At this point it became clear that Pascal needed to utilize some movement, but instead, was really looking to counter and land in between Gonzalez’s wide and at times sluggish punches. About a minute into the second round, a fight broke out and the trading began. As they traded, both landed simultaneous left hooks, and Pascal was able to slip in an awkward right hand. The trading continued till the end of the round, with the two again landing right and left hook combo at the same time. I gave the second round to Gonzalez, mainly based on the success he had in the beginning of the round, but again it could have gone either way.
As the third round began, Gonzalez began to show signs of being a little winded, something that would play in my viewing of the later rounds of the fight. Pascal started the third, circling around Gonzalez and landing a hard right and left hook to the body, which the Cuban responded to by landing two of his own right hooks to body. As Gonzalez continued his flat footed assault, Pascal had some success ducking and landing the occasional two punch combination in between Gonzalez’s shots. With about 1:07 left in the round, Gonzalez stuck a jab to the body to set up a huge right to the top of the head of Pascal. Pascal, who has never been knocked off his feet, took the shot well, and went right back to trading till the end of the round, making it a tough round to score. The big right hand was enough for me to give the third round to Gonzalez.
In the fourth Pascal again found success landing in between Gonzalez’s telegraphed shots, and was able to land a significant right hand counter after slipping a Gonzalez right. Gonzalez then landed a solid left hand as Pascal attempted to duck away. The middle of the fourth was controlled by Pascal’s jab and movement. Then, as at this point expected, with :45 left on the clock, they fell right back into a furious exchange, with Gonzalez landing a double jab right hand combination, and Pascal responding with a four punch combination, which had a right and left hook to the head then the same punches to the body. I scored this as a clear round for Pascal.
The action in the fifth was similar to the fourth, with Pascal coming out with more pep in his step, and Gonzalez continuously marching forward through Pascal’s punches, but showing clear signs of fatigue. With 1:30 left in the round, again the war in the center of the ring continued, and again it was unclear who it was that was getting the best shots in. At times Gonzalez would a couple of successive right hands, and at times Pascal would beautifully counter with his own right. At the end of another highly competitive round, I gave the nudge to Pascal simply because I felt he landed the cleaner more accurate punches.
Now the sixth round is the round in which I know many boxing fans and experts would disagree with me on. To start the sixth both guys took turns with each others offense. About a minute in, Pascal was able to slip a lazy Gonzalez jab and counter with a stiff right uppercut that snapped Gonzalez’s head. Pascal was then able to fit in another right hand in through Gonzalez’s guard. Gonzalez feeling the round slip away then came forward letting both hands go. Pascal did a beautiful job of slipping and ducking shots, which the HBO commentators for some reason ignored. Both fighter then traded left hooks, but Pascal followed his left hook with a 1-2 combination. Now the controversial part, near the end of the round Gonzalez was able to land a shot in which Jim Lampley claimed badly “wobbled” Pascal. I did see a little dip in one of his legs, and I did see him retreat to the other side of the ring, but all I saw after that punch was Pascal landing a big looping left hook, and punctuating the round with a right hook. Gonzalez may have hurt Pascal for a second, but he was unable to follow up and land anything after. So I gave the sixth round to Pascal.
I scored the seventh similar to the sixth. Pascal was able to land a couple of his surprisingly accurate looping right hands, which in my eyes were more significant than Gonzalez’s. In this round, due to fatigue, Gonzalez also seemed to be chasing Pascal more, unable to trap Pascal in corners. Overall, this round was a bit sluggish, but I gave the nudge to the fresher looking Pascal.
In the eighth round, Gonzalez was able to recover some ground. With both fighters beginning to tire, the exchanges became a little more sluggish, and both men landed less clean shots. When one fighter did land, the opposite would quickly respond, making for another tough round to score. I gave the eighth to Gonzalez based on his work rate.
Pascal came out for the ninth landing a couple of left jabs and moving. Though both men appeared tired, Gonzalez looked the more sluggish with both his feet and hands. After re-watching this round, up until about a minute and half left in the round, Pascal had slipped and ducked almost every single shot that Gonzalez had thrown. In the rest of this round, Pascal was able to land left hooks and uppercuts in between Gonzalez’s wide shots with relative ease. This rounds seemed to be Pascal’s most dominant round. Yes, Gonzalez was aggressive, but he was not effective at all.
The tenth round was a round that was relatively easy to score. Gonzalez came out dead set of throwing everything he had left, and he did just that. Pascal would land the occasional hook in the exchanges but Gonzalez clearly won the round by outworking and out punching Pascal.
So after analyzing the fight on mute, and slowing the footage down to watch exchanges, I gave Gonzalez rounds 1,2,3,8, and 10, and Pascal 4,5,6,7, and 9. That equals five rounds to five, a draw. It was one hell of a fight, and I repeat, this was one of the toughest fights I’ve ever scored. A decision victory either way seems pretty fair to me. In a sport which has a dreadful decision every 4 or 5 months, this is in no way one of those moments when a fighter was given a gift decision, and the opposite fighter should claim to be robbed.
As for the future, maybe a rematch between these two is in order, because a match up against the scary Sergey Kovalev doesn’t seem favorable for either fighter.
-Hector Gomez @hector_gomez810