By Dave Spencer
Photo: Herby Whyne
Several hundred supporters from both camps of Jean Pascal and Lucian Bute made their way to the Bell Centre in Montreal Tuesday afternoon as the two former world champions officially kicked off the festivities for the May 25th clash that promises to galvanize the city. The pair will be fighting for Bute’s NABF light heavyweight belt won last November versus Denis Grachev with substantial financial penalties if either fighter goes over the 175 pound limit. Promoter Yvon Michel talked of such fights as Frazier-Foreman and Frazier-Ali that were fought for the North American belt, but clearly the bout that will undoubtedly sell out the 22,000 available seats will transcend any title.
The bout featuring two local combatants that have been on a collision course for their entire pro careers will likely eclipse the epic 1980 “Brawl in Montreal” that attracted 46,000 to Olympic Stadium to watch Sugar Ray Leonard suffer his first setback versus Roberto Duran. But unlike the famous predecessor that brought out a definite animosity and hatred amongst the headliners in what Leonard termed psychological warfare, nothing between these modern day warriors yesterday hinted at any animosity between the two.
The only jockeying on this day between Pascal and Bute was that for the underdog position. Trainer Stephan Larouche proclaimed that it was his fighter that was worthy of the number two position but Pascal quickly countered that it should be him with the longer odds.
“This fight obviously has some historical significance,” said Kery Davis of HBO who will televise the bout. “I believe this might be the biggest fight in the history of this nation. We thought that this was an opportunity that if everybody was happy, that we were certainly delighted in bringing such an event to our subscribers.” Read on for what the principles had to say.