Jean Pascal edges Badou Jack by split decision in late 2019 Fight of the Year contender
Both men hit the canvas in a thrilling 12-round clash in Atlanta
There was high drama in Atlanta as Badou Jack and Jean Pascal squared off in a clash for the WBA and WBC secondary titles at light heavyweight. Both men tasted the power of the other, and both hit the canvas, showing tremendous heart in working back to their feet and continuing to battle to the final bell. In the end, it was Pascal's night as he took a close -- and mildly controversial -- decision in a late entry into the discussion for 2019 Fight of the Year.
After tense early rounds that largely showcased the winging power shots of Pascal (36-6-1) looking good in the eyes of the judges, he caught Jack with a winging overhand right with just 10 seconds left in Round 4. The punch took away Jack's legs, sending him dancing before a follow-up jab dropped him to the canvas. There was not enough time left in the round for Pascal to go for the kill, as much as he clearly was ready to swing for the fences as the round came to a close.
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Jack (22-3-3, 13KOs) came on hard in the ensuing rounds, putting in the better work in the second half of the fight, though the final scorecards showed he'd lost too many early rounds to make up the difference. In the final round, a right hand from Jack put Pascal on rubber legs and he continued to fire away on his hurt opponent. As Pascal tried to both regain his legs and fire back offensively, he eventually was sent spilling over the bottom rope.
Despite being hurt, Pascal managed to get back to his feet with more than a minute left in the fight and hang on to the final bell, even firing back his own shots to keep Jack from closing the show. In the end, it was Pascal's ability to simply work himself back to standing in that moment that secured the victory as two of the official scorecards went his way with totals of 114-112, 112-114 and 114-112.
"I kept the middle of the ring most of the time and I was the better fighter," Pascal said after the victory. "Badou Jack is a great fighter and a gentleman but I won the fight. I'm a strong fighter, I'm a pressure fighter. I know the crowd enjoyed the show."
Jack, for his part, felt he'd done enough to win the fight, but primarily seemed more interested in a potential rematch than complaining about the scorecards.
"Of course I feel I won the fight but I want to thank Pascal for the opportunity," Jack said. "He's my brother and has a hell of a chin. Maybe he was the better man tonight, I don't know."
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