Matchroom Boxing has mastered the art of securing a deal just in time to avoid a purse bid hearing.
Winning such a session remains a struggle for the global outfit.
BoxingScene.com has learned that DiBella Entertainment—founded and headed by Hall of Fame promoter Lou DiBella—has secured the rights to the ordered Joshua Buatsi-Jean Pascal IBF light heavyweight title eliminator. DiBella posted a winning bid of $975,000, outpacing longtime promotional adversary Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing—Buatsi’s promoter—who offered $875,000 as the only other bidder during Tuesday’s hearing.
England’s Buatsi (16-0, 13KOs) will earn $585,000 based on his being entitled to 60 percent of the winning bid as the higher ranked contender per IBF rule 9.D (c). Quebec’s Pascal (36-6-1, 20KOs) will earn $390,000, or 40 percent of the bid.
A date, location and platform for Buatsi-Pascal is expected to be finalized in the coming days. BoxingScene.com has learned that the bout will likely land in the UK, on a Queensberry Promotions-run event. Queensberry is headed by Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren, a bitter rival of Hearn with the two rarely doing business together other than through ordered fights and purse bids.
Buatsi is ranked number-three by the IBF, which has Pascal at number-six. Both boxers accepted an invitation from the IBF on July 22 to enter talks for their final title eliminator, to determine the sanctioning body’s mandatory challenger to lineal/WBC/IBF/WBO light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev.
Pascal entered the mix after number-four ranked Anthony Yarde (22-2, 21KOs) and number-five Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez (44-0, 30KOs) passed on the opportunity due to their commitment to separate title fights with other sanctioning bodies.
Yarde was previously due to challenge Beterbiev (18-0, 18KOs) as the WBO mandatory challenger, though their scheduled October 29 bout in London has been pushed back as Beterbiev continues to recover from knee surgery earlier this summer. Yarde will likely take a stay-busy fight while awaiting his due title shot.
Mexico’s Ramirez is confirmed to next face WBA light heavyweight titlist Dmitry Bivol (20-0, 11KOs) on November 5 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. A deal was reached for that fight at the eleventh-hour, canceling a scheduled August 21 purse bid hearing barely a couple of hours prior to the start of the session.
Hearn—who promotes Buatsi and co-promotes Bivol—filed a permit with the WBA seeking an exception for Bivol to bypass his mandatory to face Buatsi, the sanctioning body’s number-two contender. The WBA mulled the request for nearly the entirety of the 30-day negotiation period assigned to Bivol-Ramirez before rejecting the proposal, instead ordering the mandatory title fight to proceed as ordered.
While that was going on, Hearn was tasked to reach terms with Pascal, who is represented by longtime manager Greg Leon. A deal never came from the allotted time period, though Hearn has been on record stating that big plans are in store for Buatsi later this year.
The claim was offered as the 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist and current top contender was attached to an ordered EBU (European) light heavyweight title fight with countryman Callum Johnson. A purse bid for the fight took place on August 11, with Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions—Johnson’s promoter—winning the session, though next to nobody believed that the fight would move forward.
Buatsi does, however, seem poised to next face Pascal. A fight with Bivol remains the hoped-for plan, but an extreme longshot and one that would require the blessing of Ramirez and Golden Boy Promotions, who have no plans to step aside for the long-demanded title shot.
The IBF first offered an invitation for Buatsi and Pascal to enter negotiations. Pascal’s side was on board from the moment the fight was offered, seeing the matchup as an opportunity that would place the Haiti-born, Quebec-based former champ back in title contention. Buatsi’s side complied within the prescribed deadline, thus moving forward with the assigned negotiation period.
Both are coming off wins just one day apart this past May.
The 39-year-old Pascal returned to the title stage following a twelve-round, unanimous decision win over previously unbeaten Meng Fanlong on May 20 in Plant City, Florida. Fanlong entered the fight as the number-one contender and with hopes of challenging Beterbiev, who at the time was four weeks out from his eventual second-round knockout of Joe Smith Jr. in their June 18 lineal/WBC/IBF/WBO unification bout in New York City.
Pascal ruined those plans, dropping Fanlong in the ninth-round of their ProBox TV main event en route to a competitive but unanimous decision in his first fight following a 28-month layoff. Pascal hadn’t fought since a 12-round, split decision win over Badou Jack in December 2019, four months after claiming a secondary WBA light heavyweight title in a technical decision win over then-unbeaten Marcus Browne in August 2019.
The two were due to meet again last June 6 in Miami Gardens, Florida, only for Pascal to test positive for multiple banned substances through testing contracted by Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA). He’s since proven to be a clean fighter and—with his win over Fanlong—still a top player at light heavyweight.
Buatsi survived a stiff challenge from former title challenger Craig Richards, claiming a points win in a WBA semi-final title eliminator on May 21 at The O2 in London. His feat occurred seven days after Ramirez scored a fourth-round knockout of Germany’s Dominic Boesel in their May 14 final eliminator, which in turn came one week after Bivol turned away the challenge of pound-for-pound king Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez for a career-best win on May 7 in Las Vegas.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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