- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Former light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal, out of action since December, has elected to take a tuneup fight before meeting former super middleweight titlist Lucian Bute in their much-anticipated, but postponed, all-Montreal showdown.
Pascal will face George Blades in a scheduled 10-round bout at 180 pounds on Sept. 28 at Bell Centre in Montreal. The fight will serve as the co-feature on the card headlined by light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson (21-1, 18 KOs) of Quebec in his first defense against Tavoris Cloud (24-1, 19 KOs) of Tallahassee, Fla.
Pascal has had chronic shoulder problems that have caused him previous long layoffs, so he's taking a gamble because not only would a loss likely kill the fight with Bute, but his shoulder problem could flare up again and perhaps force another delay. But it was a gamble Pascal and his team decided to take.
"In taking this fight, we have evaluated the pros and cons and at the end when we got the assurance that Jean was physically in perfect condition and in good health, we decided to do it. He's a professional fighter and a professional fighter should fight," Yvon Michel, Pascal's promoter, told ESPN.com on Thursday.
Pascal (27-2-1, 16 KOs), who has not fought since easily outpointing Aleksy Kuziemski in a 10-round fight on Dec. 14, was supposed to face Bute on May 25 at Bell Centre in what perhaps would have been the biggest fight in Canadian history.
However, Bute (31-1, 24 KOs) suffered a serious hand injury preparing for the bout and needed surgery, forcing the fight to be postponed until Jan. 18.
Pascal wanted to get in a fight before January so he could be sharp against Bute, who will enter the fight coming off a 13-month layoff because of the hand injury.
"I'm very happy to be back and I want to thank Yvon for that because boxing is my life," Pascal told ESPN.com. "It's not a championship fight, so I'm going to fight at a catch weight, 180. I don't consider this fight as a tuneup fight because at my level every fight is important and a loss can damage the rest of my career.
"Also, I know that Mr. Blades won't come to [just to] cash a check. He and his whole team are coming to win."
Blades (23-4, 16 KOs), 39, an Orlando, Fla., native, is a journeyman who once fought for a light heavyweight world title, getting stopped in the 11th round in Hungary by hometown hero Zsolt Erdei in 2007. Blades has only fought three times since, including winning a bout February, his first action since 2010.
"It's a big fight with Lucian Bute on Jan. 18, but by Jean fighting on Sept. 28, it will keep him motivated to keep training and he will want to look good against George Blades," Michel said. "Blades is not a world champion but anyone can look good if you're not well prepared. So Jean wants to use that fight as a preparation step for the fight after against Bute. We all believe having Pascal back in the ring will revive the popularity around the Pascal-Bute fight after it was postponed. Having Jean fighting will put it back in people's minds and after Sept. 28 we will re-launch the marketing around the Pascal-Bute fight."
In other fights on the Sept. 28 card, middleweight David Lemieux (29-2, 28 KOs), the Montreal knockout artist, will face Marcus Upshaw (15-10-2, 7 KOs) of Jacksonville, Fla., and light heavyweight prospect Edeider Alvarez (12-0, 8 KOs), a Colombia native living in Montreal, will face former middleweight and super middleweight title challenger Edison Miranda (35-8, 30 KOs), also of Colombia, who is 3-5 in his past eight fights.