By Keith Idec
Lucian Bute and Jean Pascal aren’t world champions anymore and respective losses to Carl Froch and Bernard Hopkins have hurt the brands of both boxers.
You wouldn’t know it based on the stir their light heavyweight showdown has caused in boxing-crazed Quebec, where the Romanian-born Bute (31-1, 24 KOs) and the Haitian-born Pascal (28-2-1, 17 KOs) reside and have developed large fan bases in recent years. A sellout crowd of 21,000 is expected to attend a card headlined by their 12-round light heavyweight fight Saturday night at Bell Centre in Montreal, home of the NHL’s Canadiens.
“This is the biggest boxing event in Canada’s boxing history,” Pascal, 31, said. “This is the Super Bowl of boxing in Canada. This is our Mayweather-Pacquiao. I’m Mayweather, he’s Pacquiao.”
According to The Montreal Gazette, Bute and Pascal will each earn a guaranteed purse of $2 million.
HBO will broadcast Bute-Pascal as the main event of a “World Championship Boxing” doubleheader. The telecast will start at 10:15 p.m. with a 10-round heavyweight fight that’ll match Cuban-born Mike Perez (20-0, 12 KOs) against Cameroon’s Carlos Takam (29-1, 23 KOs).
“We’re going to have 21,000 people in the Bell Centre,” Pascal said. “It’s going to be crazy. The atmosphere is going to be crazy, crazy. Honestly, the crowd might be 50-50. But I don’t care, because people don’t remember the beginning. People always remember the end and I want, at the end, everybody cheering for Jean Pascal.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.