By Lem Satterfield
Earlier this month, WBC president Jose Sulaiman has ordered an immediate rematch of the Showtime televised, Dec. 18, majority draw between light heavyweight (175 pounds) king Jean Pascal, of Canada, and former undisputed middleweight titlist Bernard Hopkins, of Philadelphia.
The decision, by an overwhelming vote of 30-to-2 by the WBC's 32-member Board of Governors, was made despite Pascal's contractual obligation with promoter Gary Shaw for a return bout against southpaw former WBC interim titlist Chad Dawson of New Haven, Conn., against whom Pascal won an HBO televised, disputed, 11th-round technical decision in August.
Against Pascal, Hopkins was looking to become the oldest fighter in the history of the sport to win a significant world title -- 38 days older than when 45-year-old George Foreman knocked out Michael Moorer in the 10th round on November 5, 1994, to become the eldest man to win a heavyweight crown.
It appeared that if Pascal (26-1-1, 16 knockouts) does not fight the 46-year-old Hopkins (51-5-2, 32 KOs), he would be stripped of his crown, and that if he does, he could face a lawsuit from the camp of Dawson (29-1, 27 KOs).
"The WBC has ordered the rematch between Jean Pascal and Bernard Hopkins by a vote of 30 votes to two. The WBC has a champion, and that champion is Pascal," Sulaiman told FanHouse on Jan. 6. "If the WBC, after reviewing everything, thinks that there should be a rematch, then there should be a rematch. And whomever does not accept it -- Pascal or Hopkins -- then he is out."
A deal for Pascal-Hopkins II must be completed, or else a purse bid will be ordered for Feb. 4 at the WBC's office in Mexico City.
"They have to accept the rematch, and the reason is this. We believe that the rematch would be another in the great fights that the world is expecting," said Sulaiman. "We believe that the first fight, even though it did not have too much support before the fight, it broke several Showtime ratings records that existed over the last four years. All of that makes this rematch very good for the sport of boxing."
Shaw, however, said that he would move forward with plans to make Pascal-Dawson II, this, in accordance with an agreement that he has with Pascal's promoter, Yvon Michel.
"My reaction is that we have a contract, and that the WBC can rule whatever they want. It doesn't over rule the contract that I have with Yvon Michel. Yvon Michel is a gentleman and I believe that he will honor our contract. I'm not going to go on record with anything other than that," said Shaw.
"Except that I will say that I trust Yvon Michel, and I believe that I have a solid contract for a rematch with Jean Pascal," said Shaw. "I have a long-standing relationship Yvon Michel. Yvon has always been a gentleman. He called me today ask me for the dates that they're willing to do the fight, and I have sent a letter off to HBO requesting those dates."
Michel is willing to do the rematch, but only if the fight is picked up by a major network. There is a clause in the contract that allows Pascal to bypass a Dawson rematch if neither of the two major networks, HBO or Showtime, are willing to purchase the fight.
"Nothing has changed since the last time we spoke together. We expressed our wish to the WBC to fight Bernard Hopkins. But we have a signed agreement for a rematch with Chad Dawson, and we will not deny that. But the trigger to it is whether or not HBO buys it. So, if HBO buys the fight between Jean Pascal and Chad Dawson, then we will have no choice. But if they pass, then we will be free to fight Bernard Hopkins," Michel said.
If HBO picks up the rematch, Michel will appeal the WBC's mandate for a rematch with Hopkins. Michel will not pursue an appeal before HBO renders a final decision on whether or not they plan to purchase the Dawson rematch.
"Before we have a move on that, I will wait to see what HBO is going to do. We will, if we fight Chad Dawson, definitely we are going to appeal the WBC's decision. But if we end up fighting Bernard Hopkins, then we will not. It's going to be something that we do not have to do since our wish is to fight Bernard Hopkins any how. So, before doing anything in that regard, then, we will wait to see what HBO is going to do," Michel said.
If Pascal moves forward with a Hopkins rematch, Shaw has vowed to bring forth a legal action. Michel is not worried about a legal case coming into play. Pursuant to their contracts terms, the rematch requires the involvement of a major television outlet. If HBO and Showtime take a pass, then Michel doesn't see any grounds for a legal action by Dawson.
"They can't -- not if we will really do exactly what our agreement is actually saying, but we can't do anything about it if nobody is willing to buy the fight. If HBO is not willing to buy the fight, and I don't think that Showtime will buy it either. So, if nobody is buying it, and it is not accepted, then, we will not do a fight together that nobody wants to see. There will be no grounds at all [for a lawsuit]," Michel said.
Lem Satterfield is the boxing editor at AOL FanHouse and the news editor at BoxingScene.com. To read more from Lem Satterfield, go to AOL FanHouse by Clicking Here .