It is most definitely a big fight atmosphere in Montreal, with local big-shot light heavies Lucian Bute, a slick lefty, and the more basic, but also more rugged, Jean Pascal facing off in a tiff which will be shown on HBO Saturday night.
That said, anyone engaging in promotional hyperbole best not describe the matchup and buzz as on par with the 1980 Sugar Ray Leonard-Roberto Duran faceoff, which unfolded at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal with HBO play-by-play man Jim Lampley. The description ace told me in no uncertain terms that he expects a solid rumble between the two vets, but to his credit, served up truth serum to anyone overselling the beef.
"Anyone saying this promotion is bigger than Leonard-Duran, who's kidding who?" the stalwart fight-caller said. "There was a reason they drew 46,000 for that fight."
And this fight, what does he see unfolding at the Bell Centre between the 31-1 Bute and the 28-2-1 Pascal?
"It's two guys who may be a bit beyond their peak, with Pascal maybe a bit more past, and it could become very entertaining," he said. "It could be exceptionally entertaining. We need to see in Bute if he has the competitive fire left, how much he really wants to fight."
The 33-year-old Bute, born in Romania, and looking to rebuild his psyche after getting mugged (TKO5) by super middle Carl Froch in 2012, will want to outbox the 31-year-old Pascal, said Lampley. Pascal, he continued, will look to make a fight of it, try to give Bute a flashback to the Froch demo job, and make him wish he was back at 168.
And will the winner be graced with what could be an even bigger-deal clash against fellow Canada resident Adonis Stevenson, who holds the WBC 175 pound strap? "That's the logical next step," Lampley said. "Bute was once the king here, Pascal thought he could be king, but the king in 2013 and now here is Adonis."
Could rust be an issue with both men having battled injuries and inactivity? If so, Lampley said, we could see that rust have a more debilitating effect on the craftsman, Bute, rather than the man who relies more on muscles and grit, Pascal. "If Bute, a stylist and technician, isn't able to function at a peak, that's a problem."
Here's a tidbit: Lampley said that Bute trainer Stephan Larouche told him that the boxer craves a rematch with Froch. If Bute can handle Pascal, Larouche told Lampley, then all involved can wrap their brain around a sequel with the Brit. But first things first; this is a coin-flip fight as we count down to Lampley's call on Saturday night.