NEW YORK -- Jean Pascal, viewed by many as a faded former world champion long past his best days, isn't done just yet.
Pascal knocked down Marcus Browne three times and came away with a eighth-round technical decision victory to claim an interim light heavyweight world title Saturday night on the Adam Kownacki-Chris Arreola Premier Boxing Champions undercard at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Browne, making his first defense, had promised to punish Pascal during the lead-up to the bout but did no such thing. Although Browne outboxed Pascal for long stretches, he got nailed with right hands three times on each knockdown, in the fourth round and two in the seventh round.
When an accidental headbutt opened a bad cut over Browne's left eye in the eighth round, referee Gary Rosato stopped it at 1 minute, 49 seconds on advice of the ringside doctor, sending the fight to the scorecards for a technical decision. Pascal won 75-74 on all three scorecards. ESPN also had it 75-74 for Pascal.
"I dropped him three times. It was a close fight, but I believe I was winning," Pascal said. "I could hear my daughter ringside and that was motivation for me. She was yelling my name all night long."
Pascal was coming off a one-sided decision loss to world titlist Dmitry Bivol in November and is in the twilight of his career, coming into the bout just 4-4 in his past eight fights, dating to a knockout loss when challenging then-unified titleholder Sergey Kovalev in their first fight in 2015.
That's why Browne was the heavy favorite, and although he had the clear edge in the rounds without the knockdowns, Pascal did the most damage.
Browne, a southpaw fighting at Barclays Center for the 13th time, began to rough up Pascal in the third round as he landed two solid left hands to back up Pascal and then forced him to hold on. Pascal missed with wild punches as he lunged at the taller Browne.
Pascal (34-6-1, 20 KOs), 36, of Montreal, finally found a home for his right hand in the fourth round, landing a clean one on Browne's chin for a knockdown. Browne rose quickly and tried to move and jab for the final 90 seconds of the round to stay out of harm's way.
Browne (23-1, 16 KOs), 28, a 2012 U.S. Olympian from Staten Island, New York, bounced back with a big fifth round in which he landed several hard right hands while Pascal missed wildly with power shot after power shot.
Late in the seventh round, just as Pascal was looking weary, he exploded a counter right hand on Browne's chin for a heavy knockdown with about 20 seconds to go. Browne beat the count but was unsteady and struggled to hang on. Just as the round was coming to an end, Pascal landed a short right hand that dropped him again. Browne beat the count again and was lucky the round was over.
In the eighth round, Browne, who claimed a vacant interim belt by one-sided decision against former titlist Badou Jack in January on the Manny Pacquiao-Adrien Broner card, suffered the bad cut from the accidental headbutt. The fight was 65-65 on all three scorecards going into the eighth round, but all three judges scored the partial round in favor Pascal, giving him the margin of victory.
"Boxing is boxing. We clashed heads, but at the end of the day, I was winning the round," Pascal said. "I'm going to go home and talk to my team to see what is next. Canada has Drake, the NBA champions [Toronto Raptors] and now I'm bringing the belt home."
Omotoso knocks out Stevens
Junior middleweight "Lucky Boy" Wale Omotoso scored three knockdowns in a third-round knockout of Curtis Stevens in an action-packed bout.
Omotoso came into the fight 2-3 in his last five matchups and was coming off a shutout 10-round decision loss to Chordale Booker in May, but he rebounded in impressive fashion against Stevens, a longtime middleweight, who was moving down in weight.
Omotoso (28-4, 22 KOs), 34, a Nigeria native fighting out of Oxnard, California, scored a knockdown in the first round when he landed a right hand to the head that sent Stevens to all fours, but he did not appear to be badly hurt.
But when Omotoso dropped Stevens with another right hand midway through the second round, Stevens looked far more shaky when he got up.
Stevens seemed to get himself together for the third round when he came out blasting and hurt Omotoso several times and was knocking him all over the ring. But Omotoso rallied as they exchanged heavy punches in a fierce exchange during which Omotoso caught Stevens with a heavy right hand on the chin and he collapsed to the canvas. Stevens got to one knee and beat the count, but he was in no shape to continue and referee Johnny Callas waved the fight off at 1 minute, 28 seconds.
"My coach told me to keep my hands up, be patient, box him and jab," Omotoso said. "He told me I shouldn't push it and that when the opening was there, I'd take it. That's exactly what happened. I was just letting my hands go. On the second knockdown, my confidence grew. I was glad to get the victory by knockout. I didn't expect it to go exactly like that. I'm thankful for this opportunity. I'm so happy to have this win. Give me anybody next. I'm ready."
Stevens (30-7, 22 KOs), 34, of Brooklyn, whose lone world title opportunity came against then-middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin and resulted in an eighth-round knockout loss in 2013, was bidding for his second win in a row since a hellacious third-round knockout loss to David Lemieux in a 2017 middleweight fight.
"He hit me with an overhand right in the first round that knocked my equilibrium [off]," Stevens said. "But that didn't really affect me too much. I wasn't stepping enough into my punches. I was reaching. I got caught when I was reaching. I was OK, but the referee has to do his job. I was down three times so I know he was looking out for my best interests."
Stevens-Omotoso was elevated onto the televised portion of the card when former two-time welterweight world titleholder Andre Berto suffered a torn biceps last week, forcing his bout with Miguel Cruz to be called off.
More undercard results
Tuscaloosa, Alabama's Marsellos Wilder (5-1, 2 KOs), 30, the younger brother of heavyweight world titlist Deontay Wilder, won a sloppy decision over Nicoy Clarke (2-4, 0 KOs), 38, a southpaw from Jamaica, in their cruiserweight bout. Wilder won 40-36, 40-36 and 39-37 in a fight filled with grappling and holding.
Heavyweight Brian Howard (15-3, 12 KOs), 39, of Atlanta, scored an emphatic upset first-round knockout of Carlos Negron (20-3, 16 KOs), 32, a former Puerto Rican Olympian. Howard unloaded an onslaught of punches, including a massive right hand that dropped Negron in a heap and he nearly rolled out of the ring as referee Shada Murdaugh waved it off at 1 minute, 8 seconds. Negron, who outweighed Howard 242.2 pounds to 207, was down on the mat receiving medical attention for a few minutes after the fight. He lost his second fight in a row after having been knocked out by Dominic Breazeale in the ninth round in December.
Welterweight Brian Jones (15-10, 9 KOs), 32, of Clarksville, Texas, pulled the upset in a fifth-round knockout of Brooklyn's Julian Sosa (13-1-1, 5 KOs). Jones dropped Sosa, 23, with a combination in the fourth round and was credited with another knockdown when Sosa touched his glove to the mat in the fifth round. Later in the fifth round, as Jones was taking it to Sosa, referee Earl Brown waved it off at 2 minutes, 28 seconds.
Junior featherweight Helen Joseph (16-3-2, 10 KOs), 32, a Nigeria native fighting out of New Haven, Connecticut, dominated Edina Kiss (15-10, 9 KOs), 29, of Hungary, en route to a shutout decision. She dropped Kiss in the second round and won 60-53 on all three scorecards.
Junior middleweight Kestna Davis (4-0, 0 KOs), 24, a Jamaica native fighting out of Vauxhall, New Jersey, easily outboxed Jaime Meza (0-3), 30, of Compton, California, en route to a shutout decision win: 40-36 on all three scorecards.
Featherweight Cobia Breedy (14-0, 4 KOs), 27, of Hyattsville, Maryland, outfought Ryan Lee Allen (9-4-1, 4 KOs), 26, of Jackson, Michigan, to win a clear decision in an entertaining fight. He won 99-91, 99-91 and 97-93.
New York welterweight Arnold Gonzalez (2-0, 0 KOs), 24, cruised to a shutout of Jeremiah De Los Santos (0-4), 20, of Harlingen, Texas, winning 40-36 on all three scorecards.