- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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There's a fight on the drawing board that I'm excited about that has gotten closer to reality over the past few days: a light heavyweight bout between titleholder Tavoris Cloud and former champion Jean Pascal.
They are two of the best in the division, and the fight shapes up as a crowd pleaser. Their styles complement each other, and the fact that the bout would take place in Quebec -- either Montreal or Quebec City -- where Pascal is a popular draw, means that there would be an electric atmosphere.
The fight has been discussed on and off for awhile, but it's closer than ever now. On Tuesday, I spoke to Yvon Michel, Pascal's promoter, who said it was close to being done for this summer.
"We are very close to finalizing the deal," Michel said. "There's nothing in writing yet, but I spent the last few days in Florida meeting with [Cloud's promoter] Don King, and we are very close."
Michel said Pascal (26-2-1, 16 KOs) is on board for the fight and that the minor shoulder injury the fighter suffered last month while playing a friendly game of ice hockey wouldn't be an issue.
"Pascal's shoulder is perfect," Michel said. "He is already in training."
I also spoke to Al Bonanni, Cloud's trainer and King's matchmaker, on Tuesday. Bonanni said Cloud's side has approved the fight.
"Don advised me that he had some sort of a deal between Yvon and Don, and Cloud is coming down [to King's office in Deerfield Beach, Fla.] from Tallahassee [on Wednesday] to firm things up," Bonanni said. "But we basically have an agreement with Don. Cloud wants to fight Pascal.
"As far as we're concerned, we have deal. Me, Cloud, my uncle [Jerry Attardi, Cloud's manager] and Don are one big happy family. We're on board."
There are still two important things that need to be dealt with before the fight can be signed, but both should be able to be worked out.
First, King needs to get the IBF to approve an exception for Cloud's mandatory defense against Karo Murat. That shouldn't be too great an issue given King's close relationship with the organization.
Also, a U.S. television deal still needs to be finalized. There was some initial interest from HBO, which has fallen off, according to Michel. He said Showtime is interested and is in talks with he and King about the fight, which the network confirmed to me.
"I believe everybody is on board, except we have nothing in writing yet -- but I don't see any deal breakers," Michel said. "We still have a couple of little things to finalize."
Michel would like to get the fight set for late June or early July, but Showtime is eyeing it for Aug. 4 or 11. I'm sure that can be worked out.
Pascal hasn't fought since last May, when he lost the legitimate championship to Bernard Hopkins. An extra few weeks should be no big deal considering how long Pascal already has been off.
Cloud (24-0, 19 KOs), who is accustomed to long layoffs, has no issue waiting until August. He fought Feb. 18, winning a controversial split decision against Gabriel Campillo. In a perfect world, he would give Campillo an immediate rematch, because Campillo deserves it. This is not a perfect world, so I'm happy to see Cloud-Pascal as an alternative. A six-month layoff for Cloud is minor compared to his down time between fights in recent years.
"I'd like the fight in July," Bonanni said, "but if it‘s in August, that's fine by us."
Fine by me, too. Hopefully, the promoters and Showtime will get all the details worked out and we'll have a hot fight during a hot summer.