MONTREAL - Canada's top two boxers are set to face each other in the ring.
Jean Pascal, the former World Boxing Council light heavyweight champion, and Lucian Bute, who held the International Boxing Federation super-middleweight crown, will meet May 25 at a venue yet to be decided, promoters for the two fighters announced Friday.
"This fight will mark an historic moment for boxing in Canada," Pascal's promoter Yvon Michel said in a statement. "Emotions will be high and the memories will be engraved in the collective memory forever."
It should be the biggest fight between two Canadians since Dave Hilton faced Stephane Ouellet three times between 1998 and 2000 before crowds of close to 20,000 in Montreal.
Pascal was scheduled to face American (Bad) Chad Dawson to try to regain the WBC belt, but got out of that fight for the chance at a grudge match between two Montreal boxers who work for rival promoters.
A report this week said another Montreal fighter, Adonis Stevenson, is set to face Dawson in Pascal's place in June. Stevenson has a bout March 22 at the Bell Centre against the only opponent yet to beat him, Darnell Boone.
"I won't fight Chad Dawson, Chad is out," Pascal said in a video on the boxing website gotconnex.tv. "Sorry Chad, but I've got to take care of business in my town."
Pascal (27-2-1) against Bute (31-1-0) is expected to draw a huge crowd of fans who have debated for years which of the two is better.
The five-foot-11 Pascal, 30, brings athleticism and a flamboyant style to the ring, while the cerebral 33-year-old Bute, a six-foot-two lefthander, brings strong technique and a nasty uppercut.
"This is the fight that everyone has been waiting for, even the casual fan," said Bute's promoter Jean Bedard of InterBox. "It was an honour to help finalize it.
"All parties were anxious to reach an agreement and now boxing fans across the world can expect a spectacular show on May 25th."
Each side wanted the fight right away to avoid the chance of an injury while facing another opponent first. Pascal has a history of shoulder problems, while Bute has looked vulnerable since his devastating knockout loss to Carl Froch last May.
Bute lost his IBF belt to the Englishman on his 10th defence as he was pounded into a bloody mess in five rounds. He was not impressive while winning a 12-round decision over lightly regarded Denis Grachev in his comeback bout in November. Some fear he is one loss away from retirement.
Pascal lost a close decision to Froch in a super-middleweight title bout in 2008, but then claimed the light heavyweight title with a win over Adrian Diaconu. He defended it twice, including an 11-round win over Dawson, before losing by decision to Bernard Hopkins in May, 2011.
After time off to recover from an injury, Pascal came back with a clear win over Aleksy Kuziemski in December.
Some details have yet to be settled, including the venue, although it will almost certainly be in Montreal. They are also still seeking a U.S. broadcaster.
There was no mention of the purse, but both sides have said they expect to make more than they would against other opponents. They also must decide on a fight weight, as Bute competes in the 168-pound division while Pascal is in the 175-pound class.
Neither fighter was born in Canada. Pascal moved to Montreal from Haiti as a young child, while Bute arrived a decade ago from Romania. He got his Canadian citizenship last year.