Former boxing champ Jean Pascal changes trainers before anticipated rematch with Sergey Kovalev

Former boxing champ Jean Pascal changes trainers before anticipated rematch with Sergey Kovalev

Main pic: Jean Pascal (right) hits Yunieski Gonzalez during their light heavyweight boxing bout Saturday, July 25, 2015, in Las Vegas. Canada’s Pascal is turning to one of boxing’s top trainers in a bid to relaunch his career. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/John Locher. 

MONTREAL — Canada’s Jean Pascal is turning to one of boxing’s top trainers in a bid to relaunch his career.

The former light heavyweight champion from Laval, Que., said Monday he has hired Freddie Roach to help polish his technique and get him back on track after a losses in recent years to top fighters Bernard Hopkins and Sergey (Krusher) Kovalev.

Pascal (30-3-1) is expected to have a rematch with Kovalev (28-0-1) on Jan. 30 at the Bell Centre

“I’m not changing coaches for the rematch, I’m changing to get a second wind in my career,” said Pascal. “It’s all about me improving my skills and having a new voice in my ear for my next fights.”

Roach, 55, trains several top fighters, including Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto. He has worked championship bouts with stars like Oscar De La Hoya and Virgil Hill.

“He can improve my offence, defence, my ring footwork, everything,” said Pascal. “Freddie is a unique coach.

“He’s very smart and he knows all about the small details in a fight; the way you can position yourself to hit, to block a punch and stuff like that. I saw he was very clever and that’s why I chose him.”

To work with Roach, the 33-year-old Pascal had to drop Marc Ramsay, the Montreal trainer he has worked with since he was 13. Ramsay coached him through the amateur ranks, helping him win gold at the Francophone Games and earn a spot on Canada’s 2004 Olympic team.

As a pro, he helped Pascal win the WBC light heavyweight title in 2009 and defend it four times before losing by decision to the crafty Hopkins in May, 2011.

“Marc has been a tremendous coach for me,” said Pascal. “The reason I switched was not because I don’t trust Marc or because I don’t think he’s competent.

“Marc did everything right. It was me who wanted new things. It’s been 20 years with Marc. It was time for a switch.”

Pascal will continue to work with Ramsay between official training camps. The team that works his corner for fights, including cutman Russ Anber and former middleweight great Roy Jones Jr., will also likely change because Roach has his own crew.

Lucian Bute of Montreal, the former IBF super-middleweight champion, worked briefly with Roach last fall but left after suffering a back injury. Bute, now trained by Howard Grant, will try to recapture the IBF belt Nov. 28 from Briton James DeGale in Quebec City.

Pascal said he consulted UFC star Georges St-Pierre, who worked on his boxing skills with Roach.

There has not been an official announcement of the rematch, but Kovalev tweeted it and it is on the boxrec.com schedule. Kovalev, who holds the IBF, WBA and WBO titles, stopped Pascal in the eighth round of a one-sided bout March 14 at the Bell Centre.

The WBC belt is currently owned by Adonis Stevenson (27-1-0) of Montreal. However, Stevenson’s camp has not found a way to reach agreement on a showdown with either Pascal or Stevenson.

Pascal and Kovalev have each fought once since their meeting, both on a card in Las Vegas on July 25. Pascal won a 10-round decision over Yunieski Gonzalez while Kovalev knocked out Nadjib Mohammedi in the third round.

The winner of Pascal-Kovalev is expected to face 2004 Olympic champion Andre Ward (28-0-0), who is moving up to light heavyweight after dominating the super-middleweight division.

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press

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