Sergey Kovalev to fight Jean Pascal

Unified light heavyweight titleholder Sergey Kovalev has repeatedly said he wants significant fights and now he has another one on tap -- a showdown with former champion Jean Pascal, by far the best available opponent.

Kovalev promoter Main Events and Pascal promoter InterBox announced Tuesday that they have reached an agreement for the HBO-televised fight to take place March 14 in either Montreal, Pascal's hometown, or Quebec City.

The deal comes less than a month after Kovalev routed Bernard Hopkins on Nov. 8 to unify three titles in one of the year's biggest fights.

However, Kovalev-Pascal is contingent on two significant pieces of business. First, Pascal must defeat Argentina's Roberto Bolonti, a former world title challenger, on Saturday at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Also, because Kovalev has a mandatory defense due against France's Nadjib Mohammedi, the IBF must grant a special exception allowing Kovalev to make an optional defense.

Main Events chief executive Kathy Duva, who will be ringside in Montreal on Saturday, told ESPN.com that the paperwork for the exception was in the process of being completed and that it would be sent to the IBF later Tuesday, along with a non-refundable fee of $20,000.

The IBF is expected to rule on the request quickly and Main Events' case should be strengthened by the fact that Mohammedi (36-3, 22 KOs), who is also signed to Main Events, prefers to put off the title shot in order to give him more time to work with new trainer Abel Sanchez, with whom he has worked with for only one fight, a first-round knockout win on the Kovalev-Hopkins undercard.

"He wrote a letter to us asking for more time to work with Abel Sanchez and we will pass that along to the IBF," Duva said. "He wants another fight with Abel, and we would put him on the undercard. As far as Mohammedi is concerned, he will benefit by waiting a little longer. He just started working with Abel for his last fight and he wants to feel prepared for his big shot against the winner.

"So, hopefully, everybody is happy and they approve the fight. I don't see why they wouldn't. And then the winner will fight Mohammedi."

Duva and Golden Boy Promotions hammered out their deal for Kovalev-Hopkins in about two days without the drama that often accompanies major fight negotiations. It was a similar situation for Kovalev-Pascal.

"The negotiation with Main Events went quickly and smoothly, so I know we'll be able to organize a high-caliber fight and a great night of boxing. After a pretty mediocre 2014 so far, we're preparing to offer Quebec boxing fans one of the best fights we could make in the entire division," InterBox promoter Jean Bedard said.

Said Duva, "My goal is to make a deal and not be a jerk. It was easy. Jean Bedard also wanted to make a deal and to be fair. Nobody wanted to one-up each other or pound their chest. We wanted to sit down and make a fair deal. We did. We had lunch on Friday, sorted out the details and both signed it [Monday] afternoon.

"You don't make money if you don't make deals. I find the big ones are easier to make. There is plenty of money to go around. It's harder to make the deals when there's no money."

Terms of the fight were not disclosed, but Duva said the Kovalev side would receive the lion's share of the money.

Like the 31-year-old Kovalev (26-0-1, 23 KOs), Pascal (29-2-1, 17 KOs) has also hungered for significant fights. He is the mandatory challenger for champion Adonis Stevenson, also of Montreal, and that would have been an event in Quebec.

Pascal hoped to face him this fall. But they could not come to terms, largely because of Stevenson's demands. Stevenson also walked away from a deal to face Kovalev, supposedly to fight Hopkins, but his team blew that deal also and Kovalev and Hopkins faced each other instead.

"Others have shied away for the opportunity to match skills with Kovalev," Pascal told ESPN.com, clearly taking aim at Stevenson. "For me, this is going to be a great test in every sense of the word. My team and I look forward to this extreme challenge."

While Pascal, who has faced a who's who of top opponents, including Hopkins twice, Chad Dawson, Carl Froch, Lucian Bute and Adrian Diaconu, said he is focused on his fight Saturday, he is excited the Kovalev fight was made.

"Right now the focus is on this weekend and a fight that is looming closer with Roberto Bolonti," Pascal said. "Without a compelling performance in this weekend's fight the move toward a fight with Kovalev could be compromised. So, the focus for this moment needs to be placed on the opponent in front of me.

"However, I do have a strong positive view of Kovalev as a fighter and as a champion. First off, this is boxing, and great champions fight the best, as opposed to soft opponents. Kovalev has just completed a compelling performance against Bernard Hopkins. Some would say that Hopkins aged over night. However, what fewer acknowledged is that Kovalev fought extremely well and also intelligently. He is a champion in the true sense of the word. His performance elevated against a very tough opponent in a very high-profile event, and never did he fight Hopkins' game plan. He was well prepared, well coached, and well managed."

Kovalev, who lives in Los Angeles, is in Russia visiting family and was happy to get the news of the deal.

"I only want to fight the best," Kovalev said. "Jean Pascal is (the) former champion with only two losses. This is big fight in U.S. and Canada. I'm glad that Pascal is a man and wants to fight me."

Said Duva, "Sergey has made it very clear since the moment we signed him that he only wants to fight the best fighters. I promised after his demolition of Bernard Hopkins that the next one would be for the money. I'm thrilled to work with InterBox to bring boxing fans the 'Krusher' versus Jean Pascal, which delivers on both fronts. The truth is that these fights are easy to make when both fighters want to be in the big fights and the promoters and managers are willing to be reasonable and work together."

One of the televised undercard bouts in the works is a heavyweight eliminator between Vyacheslav "Czar" Glazkov (19-0-1, 12 KOs), 30, a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist from Ukraine, and Philadelphia's Steve Cunningham, 38, a former two-time cruiserweight titleholder. The winner will become one of champion Wladimir Klitschko's mandatory challengers. Duva said she is talking to HBO about a deal to put on the fight.

In Glazkov's last fight, he pummeled Darnell "Ding-A-Ling Man" Wilson in a seventh-round knockout on the Kovalev-Hopkins undercard.

Cunningham, coming off a seventh-round knockout of previously undefeated Natu Visinia on Oct. 18, has won three fights in a row since a seventh-round knockout loss to top contender Tyson Fury, whom Cunningham knocked down.

"Both have agreed to take the fight, so we're making the fight," Duva said. "We promote both fighters and we've spoken to both of them, so we're doing our best to get the most money we can. It'll be a terrific fight. HBO also may buy a third fight to make it a tripleheader."