Former light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal, out of action since May 2011 because of injuries, will return Dec. 14 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, promoter Yvon Michel announced Monday.
Pascal, of Laval, Quebec, and one of Canada's most popular fighters, is scheduled to fight Aleksy Kuziemski (23-4, 7 KOs), who has twice failed in world title bouts. WealthTV will televise the card in the United States.
Pascal has not fought since losing the 175-pound world title by unanimous decision to Bernard Hopkins at the Bell Centre in a rematch of a previous draw.
The 17-month layoff is the longest of Pascal's career.
He was originally slated to return early this year in a title eliminator against Ismayl Sillakh, but Pascal (26-2-1, 16 KOs) suffered a right shoulder injury when he fell on the ice during a pickup ice hockey game.
Then Pascal, who turned 30 on Oct. 28, was scheduled to challenge titleholder Tavoris Cloud at the Bell Centre on Aug. 11 in the main event of a Showtime card, but he suffered a bone bruise on his right hand during training, which forced him to delay his return until the end of the year.
The fight with Cloud was not rescheduled because Cloud's mandatory defense against Karo Murat came due, plus Showtime did not have room on its schedule for the rest of the year.
"After a few unsuccessful tries (to fight this year), I know that this time is correct," Pascal said. "My training is going well, my health is excellent, and I started hurting my sparring partners in training. In 2013, I will be world champion, crushing anybody who tries to stop me."
If Pascal is successful against Kuziemski, Michel said there are two options for a major fight for Pascal next year. One would be to reschedule the fight with Cloud (24-0, 19 KOs) for February, assuming Cloud defeats Murat later this month.
The other is a possible March rematch on HBO against reigning champion Chad Dawson (31-2, 17 KOs), who won the title from Hopkins in April. Pascal handed Dawson his first loss by 11th-round technical decision in a 2010 championship fight.
Kuziemski, 35, of Poland, is 2-2 in his past four bouts. In 2009, Jurgen Brahmer stopped him in the 11th round of an interim light heavyweight world title fight. In May 2011, Nathan Cleverly knocked him out in the fourth round of a world title fight.
Kuziemski represented Poland in the 2004 Olympics. Pascal was also in the '04 Olympics, representing Canada.
"Kuziemski is a solid professional who learned to box in the great Polish amateur system that has been very successful in Europe," Michel said. "He also fought in world championship (fights). He certainly has the tools, maturity, and experience to provide a solid (test) for Pascal."
Quebec middleweight slugger David Lemieux (27-2-1, 26 KOs) will fight an opponent to be determined in the scheduled 10-round co-feature.
In another undercard fight, light heavyweight prospect Eleider Alvarez (10-0, 6 KOs), a native of Colombia now living in Montreal, faces faded contender Edison Miranda (35-8, 30 KOs), who has lost five of his last eight fights, in a scheduled 12-rounder for Alvarez's regional title.