OK, OK, I hear ya, this one would have been more impactful outside of Montreal a couple years ago, before Lucian Bute got mugged by Carl Froch. But still, the good people in Canada are amped for the Saturday showdown between light heavyweights Bute, the Romanian-born pugilist who intrigued us as a potential star before his chin was, some say, exposed by the rugged warrior Froch, and Pascal, the Haiti-born hitter best known for two clashes with Bernard Hopkins.
A lot of folks I've spoken to are thinking the 33-year-old lefty Bute will get the W, using an edge in ring generalship to bother Pascal with his right jab, and box his way to a points win, while dropping in the occasional patented left uppercut to remind Pascal that he owns enough power to bother him. At 31-1, with 24 KOs, the biggest question mark on Bute beyond the dented chin is rust, as he last gloved up in November 2012, against B- grade Denis Grachev. He's said that he felt uncertain going into that tussle, understandable since in his previous scrap, he'd been steamrolled by Carl Froch, in England. That TKO5 loss is the sort that often leaves a brain stain, even if publicly you are insisting that you have come back all the way mentally. To that point, Bute had tantalized with some of his work, but detractors noted that his management had usually paired him with past their prime plodders, boxers not known for having blazing hand speed, or fancy footwork. Many fans remember Bute was thrown into deep water, with a lead life-jacket, and saved by the bell against Librado Andrade in 2008. He looked better rematching with Andrade in 2009, and wins over Edison Miranda, Brian Magee, Jean Paul Mendy and Glen Johnson enthralled his rooters, but didn't sway doubters who didn't think Bute deserved to be exalted. I admit I've enjoyed watchign Bute, being impressed with his combos, his ability to remain balance, his accuracy, including dropping in diabolical body shots with both hands at times.
Now, would a win over Pascal do some swaying? Well, the joint, the Bell Centre, will be packed, so the stage will be large and the resultant buzz, with a swell showing, could do Bute's rep a world of good. The 31-year-old Pascal isn't entering the fight on a severe upswing, however. After going 0-1-1 against Hopkins in 2010, and 2011, he only boxed once in 2012, against Aleksy Kuziemski (UD10), and once in 2013 (TKO5 win against George Blades), because of injuries. So, I don't expect him to be at his best against Bute, who if he gets into a rhythm, could win rounds widely against Pascal, who has just 17 KOs enroute to a 28-2-1 record. Kuz and Blades would have been OK choices as sparring partners, but as C-plus or so level pugs, seeing them for 15 rounds won't have sharpened Pascal up to the point he'll need to be at to down Bute, quite possibly. Who reading thinks Pascal could replicate what Froch did, which is impose his will upon Bute, make him fight at a distance he isn't comfortable with, put him on the back foot, put some fear of God in him? Perhaps Pascal is buoyed by the knowledge that Froch didn't do to him what he did to Bute, as Pascal lost to UD12 in a 168 pound title challenge back in 2008...
Judges sometimes diss Pascal on their cards, for lack of activity, and for resorting to one punch at a time-ing, so keep that in mind if we get a distance fight.
Pascal could be helped by tutoring sessions with legend Roy Jones, who's said he has given the ex WBC light heavy champ advice on how to position his feet.
The winner could see themselves getting a date with WBC champ Adonis Stevenson, another Canada resident who does his work on HBO.
Readers, what say you? Who will get the nod in the battle for bragging rights in Montreal, and a possible title crack at 175?
Follow Michael Woods on Twitter.
Who will win the Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward fight?