By Dave Spencer
Photos 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.
PascalThere's no bitterness, outside of the ring is the outside of the ring, inside the ring is inside the ring. I have nothing against Bute. Bute is a nice guy, at the end of the day, I need to do my job, and my job is to beat him up on May 25th.
I don't fight for money. I don't fight for fame. I fight to make history and this is a great opportunity to make history on May 25th.
Bute is more dangerous for me. Bute is still in his prime. He defended his title ten times. He was champion for four years. He's fast, he's technical, it's going to be a good challenge for me.
(The weight) is a big advantage for Lucian Bute. If you remember when I went up to 175 against Adrian Diaconu, I got stronger, bigger and I had more energy and I think it's going to be the same thing for Bute.
Everybody before his fight with Carl Froch thought Bute was better than me. He had one bad night, anybody can have one bad night.
Roy Jones will be my specialist for southpaws. He's been there done that, he's done it for so many years.
LaroucheI think we’re going to have five pounds different the night of the fight, five to seven pounds which is manageable. I think Jean brings the strength but Lucian brings the speed, in the history of boxing speed has always been able to compete against strength, but its going to be a hard and tough fight, toughest fight for Lucian for sure.
Lucian has been requesting the anti-doping test. It’s a work in process, now ourselves, we don’t worry nothing about doping, we go to camp and forget about it. When they come to camp and say pee here and get a blood sample, it’s a done deal. We’ve been requesting, both parties agreed, it’s no longer in my hands, so we go to camp hoping that everything will be taken care of with the doping tests.
On Angel Hereida
I don’t give a damn on who will prepare him (Jean). It’s not my business, it is their business. It’s there choice and we have to respect everybody.
RamsayOn how long this fight has been brewing in his mind...
Even before Jean turned professional, we prepared with Lucian and Adrian Diaconu. I think everybody knew that the fight was going to happen one day. Even at that time in 2004 Stephan knew that one day or at one point they were going to have to face each other because they were the two best boxers in Quebec. We knew that when both boxers reached their peak, there was a very good possibility that they would challenge each other.
It's not a question of Lucian or another opponent, when you go into that type of fight, you need to be surprised by nothing. He can bring any type of strategy in the fight and if you prepare for something specific and it doesn't go that way, the night of the fight you will have big problems. You need to be ready for everything. Nothing can surprise you in a fight with that much pressure and emotion.
On going away for training camp
I think it depends on the boxer. I know Lucian has had a lot of his camps in Montreal. We always go outside with Jean, he always like to put everything on the side and go with one thing for eight, nine or ten weeks and have only this date on his mind. Other boxers though, if you bring them outside, they don’t like it, Antonin Decarie for example would lose his orientation more, he’s the kind of guy who needs his family and be in Montreal where he has everything. It’s really different from one boxer to the next.
It’s not me who said this, it’s Stephan. It’s not easy; I know Pascal is a very good fighter, a world champion many times. I’ve made sacrifices to get up to 175, that’s a big advantage for him I think. Tomorrow I go to training camp and will do my best to get ready for 25th of May.
I don’t have a problem with the weight because naturally I’m about 185. Come May I will be bigger and stronger.
On going back to 168
I don’t know. Maybe. After this fight if he wants a rematch or I fight Carl Froch we’ll see. Right now though this fight is what’s important.
Many years ago everybody wanted this fight. Two months ago I told my promoter I’m ready for this fight, let’s go 100% for this fight. It’s a big big fight in Quebec. It’s a big honour for us.
It is the moment. In my head in this moment it is very important to beat Jean Pascal May 25th and then to get a rematch with Carl Froch. For me it’s a big test to get to the rematch.
I’m a nice guy outside the ring, with people, it’s natural with me. On May 25th, inside the ring, I will be the bad guy. Promise. It’s my career, my future in the game.
On Pascal’s demands such as coming to the ring last
Jean Bedard called me a week ago and said the fight was in peril because Jean Pascal because he wanted to come into the ring second. For that? C’mon lets go. It’s not important. On May 25th it’s just me and him in the ring.