SPORTS

Pascal inks 4-fight deal with InterBox; wants to regain WBC light heavy title

10/22/2014 04:38 EDT | Updated 12/22/2014 05:59 EST
MONTREAL - Jean Pascal wants his world title back.

The Montreal fighter who split with long-time promoter Groupe Yvon Michel (GYM) to form his own promotion company has now signed a four-fight deal with rival InterBox.

It starts with a Dec. 6 bout against Don (Da Bomb) George at the Bell Centre as the co-feature to InterBox star Lucian Bute's bout with Roberto Bolonti of Argentina.

He hopes it will lead to a battle with the new darling of the GYM stable, World Boxing Council light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson.

"It's a new era in my career," Pascal (29-2-1) said Wednesday. "It was a bit difficult to stay with GYM because of everything that happened in the last few months.

"Adonis is their leader now and I didn't feel like I was in the picture any more. That's why I decided to collaborate with InterBox. I think we'll be a good team and that this is good for the sport of boxing."

After leaving GYM, where he began his pro career after representing Canada at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, he formed Jean Pascal Promotions. But it didn't look like he was getting far in arranging his own fights.

By signing with InterBox, the flashy 31-year-old can dream of getting back the WBC title he lost nearly four years ago to American veteran Bernard Hopkins.

That belt is now held by Stevenson (24-1), a fellow Montreal fighter of Haitian descent. Hopkins lost the title to Chad Dawson, who was flattened in only 76 seconds by a crushing left from the southpaw Stevenson.

Pascal is rated as the top contender and mandatory challenger for the title, but GYM was reluctant to have two of its own face each other in the ring.

That obstacle is now out of the way and a Pascal-Stevenson showdown is possible some time in 2015, although Pascal has several options.

After fighting George (26-4-2), he may face the winner of a Nov. 8 bout between 49-year-old Hopkins and Russian knockout artist Sergey Kovalev. He can also have a rematch with Bute, which was part of the agreement when Pascal beat the former IBF champion by 12-round decision in the last outing for both fighters on Jan. 18.

Whether Stevenson would accept to fight the highly skilled but possibly rusty Pascal is anyone's guess.

The 37-year-old Stevenson has taken heat at home and abroad for what is perceived to be avoiding dangerous opponents. The criticism mostly stems from his decision to pass up a showdown with Kovalev to fight Englishman Tony Bellew and Andrzej Fonfara of Poland.

Michel said an opponent will be announced next week for Stevenson's next bout, which is expected to take place Dec. 20 in Quebec City, but it is also expected to be against a so-so opponent.

The split reeked of bitterness.

When Pascal left GYM, he was a dropped from a bout last month with veteran Tavoris Cloud and replaced by top prospect Artur Beterbiev, who dispatched the American in under two rounds.

Pascal moved out of the GYM facility and now works out at trainer and broadcaster Russ Anber's gym, although he kept trainer Marc Ramsay.

Pascal insists he has no hard feelings for Michel.

"We're still friends, it's just a business decision," he said. "I have nothing against Yvon.

"Yvon did great things for me. I did great things for the company as well. Adonis is their man right now and I wasn't feeling I had the same place in the family. That's why I decided to leave and join InterBox. It's good. It will create a bigger rivalry between me and Stevenson."

Michel was surprised that InterBox boss Jean Bedard made a deal with Pascal without keeping him informed, but said he will still be involved in his bouts as the two promotion companies work together on most major fight cards.

Before he won his title, Stevenson needed 12 rounds to stop George in a bout in 2012.

What Ramsay will do on Dec. 6 is in question, as he was slated to work Montreal middleweight David Lemieux's corner at a bout in New York that night against Gabriel Rosado.

Another GYM light heavyweight prospect, Colombia-born Eleider Alvarez (15-0), fights Saturday in Monaco against South African Ryno Liebenberg (16-0).

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