Another ordered fight featuring Joshua Buatsi is at the mercy of the highest available bidder.
BoxingScene.com has learned that a purse bid hearing has been assigned to determine promotional rights to the IBF-ordered title eliminator between England’s Buatsi and Quebec’s Jean Pascal. The IBF scheduled the hearing for August 30, after the negotiation period expired without a deal in place.
“On July 22, 2022, the IBF ordered Joshua Buatsi and Jean Pascal to begin negotiations for the IBF Light Heavyweight Eliminator For # 1,” IBF president Daryl Peoples noted in a letter to all IBF-registered promoters, a copy of which was obtained by BoxingScene.com. “An agreement could not be reached within the time frame set forth by the IBF.
“The IBF is ordering a Purse Bid in these offices on Tuesday, August 30, 2022 at 12:00 PM EST. Bids must be submitted at 11:45 AM EST to be promptly opened at 12:00 PM.”
The winning bid will be split 60/40 in favor of Buatsi (16-0, 13KOs) as the higher ranked challenger, per IBF rule 9.D (c). The remaining 40 percent would go to Pascal as the number-six ranked contender, landing the assignment due to the unavailability of number-four ranked Anthony Yarde and number-five Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez, both of whom have their own mandatory title fights in queue for this fall.
England’s Yarde (22-2, 21KOs) is the WBO mandatory challenger for lineal/WBC/IBF/WBO champ Artur Beterbiev (18-0, 18KOs), with their bout eyed for October 29 or early November in London.
Mexico’s Ramirez (44-0, 30KOs) awaits the outcome of a WBA-scheduled purse bid hearing on August 21 to determine the promoter, date and location for his shot at unbeaten WBA champ Dmitry Bivol (20-0, 11KOs). Their bout was ordered just prior to Buatsi-Pascal, though talks for both fights disrupted due to Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn instead seeking to stage a Bivol-Buatsl title fight later this year.
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 (36-6-1, 20KOs) 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.
Per IBF purse bid rules, all participating promoters are required to submit a $5,000 nonrefundable participation fee at the time of the hearing. The winning bid must be accompanied by a 10 percent deposit on site, with an additional 10 percent to be paid to the IBF within five business days of the session.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox