Former light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal is looking to end his career on a high note Friday night, while unbeaten contender Ahmed Elbiali prepares to make a statement during his first main event on FS1.
Former light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal is hoping to end his career a winner on Friday night. Unbeaten contender Ahmed Elbiali stands in his way and is hoping to keep his perfect record intact.
Fighting in the main event of the FS1-televised card (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) from Hialeah Park in Miami, Florida, Pascal has already said that at age 35, it will be the last match of a solid, distinguished career.
Pascal (31-5-1, 18 knockouts) has been in a couple of Fight of the Year candidates, most notably 10 years ago against Carl Froch in a unanimous decision loss for a 168-pound belt. He beat Chad Dawson at the peak of his powers, tangled with Bernard Hopkins a couple of times, and seems content with what he's accomplished.
Elbiali (16-0, 13 KOs) is on the other end of the career pendulum. He's a 27-year-old unbeaten fighter living in Miami but hailing from Egypt without a signature victory yet to his name. Elbiali has barely fought more rounds than Pascal has fights, and he's hoping a win over Pascal could up his experience in a big way. He knows what he's up against in Pascal.
"Pascal is a very experienced fighter who knows what it's like to win a world title," said Elbiali, who is headlining his first main event.
"He's a former world champion who's fought at the elite level. He's a dangerous puncher with a lot of skill. I'm taking this fight seriously and I feel this will be a defining fight in my career. I'm happy to have this opportunity and may the best man win."
Pascal is committed to thwarting Elbiali's plans on using his name as a way to climb the rankings and land bigger bouts.
“He thinks I’m going to be his stepping-stone to get known in the world,” Pascal told the Montreal Gazette. “He’s going to be ready. He’s young and hungry. At 27, I was hungry as well. With my experience, I’m better right now. I’m going to use my knowledge, skill and experience to win the fight. I have more experience. Like I’ve said, been there, done that already. I’m going to show him who’s the boss in the ring."
“ He thinks I’m going to be his stepping-stone to get known in the world. I’m going to show him who’s the boss in the ring. ” Former 175-pound World Champ Jean Pascal
The fight takes place in Elbiali's adopted Miami home, but Pascal is used to fighting on his opponent's home turf. His loss to Froch was in Nottingham and could have gone either way. He also knows what it's like to have the pressure of fighting at home, having built a large following in Montreal for years, winning many of his biggest battles there.
Pascal's biggest issue throughout his career has been conditioning. He starts quickly in fights but has a penchant for fading down the stretch. But how much will that matter against Elbiali, a fighter who has only ever gone eight rounds, in their ten-round bout?
In Elbiali's most recent eight-round decision, he won on close scores against the unheralded Andrew Hernandez. Elbiali faced adversity as he fractured his hand early in that fight and seemed to tire down the stretch. What will happen if he goes past the eighth round against Pascal, who has been past that point in a fight 18 times?
A win for Elbiali in emphatic fashion over Pascal could have him knocking on the door for a world title shot in 2018. He knows he must be on top of his game to get the win.
"A victory against Pascal will catapult my career to heights I've never seen," Elbiali proclaimed. "A win will lead to a higher ranking and one step closer to a world title shot. Everything is riding on this fight. Victory is a must!"
It's a real pick em fight and a fun main event between two fighters (who each tipped the scale at 178 pounds at Thursday's heated weigh-in) whose careers are headed in opposite directions. Can Pascal halt Elbiali's trajectory? We'll soon find out.
For complete coverage of Elbiali vs Pascal, visit our fight page.