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The deal for former light-heavyweight champion Jean Pascal and former super middleweight titleholder Lucian Bute, both major stars in Quebec, was signed Friday and they will meet May 25 in what will widely be viewed as the biggest fight in Canadian history.
"This fight will mark a historic moment for boxing in Canada," said Yvon Michel, Pascal's promoter. "Emotions will be high and the memories will be engraved in the collective memory forever."
Jean Bedard of InterBox, Bute's promoter, added, "This is the fight that everyone has been waiting for, even the casual fan. It was an honor 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 25."
Although the fight, a scheduled 12-rounder at light heavyweight, is signed, the promoters said the venue has not been finalized. Michel said previously that multiple venues were vying for the fight in Quebec, including two venues in Montreal -- the Bell Centre, where Pascal (27-2-1 16 KO) and Bute (31-1-0 24 KO) have both drawn big crowds, and Olympic Stadium, which hosted the memorable first welterweight championship fight between Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard in 1980.
Although the promoters did not announce the U.S. television deal, they are in the process of finalizing an agreement with HBO, which will have a split-site doubleheader on May 25 with Pascal-Bute from Canada and the super middleweight title rematch between Mikkel Kessler and Carl Froch from London.
Last month, Michel and Bedard announced that the Pascal-Bute fight had been agreed to, but they were unsure of whether it would be the next fight for each man or if it would wait until the fall. The main reason was because Pascal still has a contractual obligation to face light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson in a rematch stemming from Pascal's 2010 technical decision win against him.
For various reasons, the rematch was put off multiple times and was supposed to take place May 25 before Pascal-Bute came out of nowhere. But the date of that the fight could not be set until Dawson and his promoter, Gary Shaw, were satisfied with an alternative plan in place of the rematch with Dawson. Also, HBO owes Dawson a fight and could not commit to Pascal-Bute until it dealt with Dawson's situation.
Although it has not been formally announced, Dawson is likely to headline his own HBO show on June 8 at the Bell Centre against super middleweight power puncher Adonis Stevenson, a Michel-promoted fighter who would move up in weight and challenge Dawson for his title.
Gary Shaw told ESPN.com that although the deal for Dawson-Stevenson is not signed, he and Michel have agreed to terms and he received a contract from Michel to review on Friday.
As anticipated as Pascal-Bute will be for many, some also will view it as a bit past its expiration date because Pascal, 30, lost his world title to Bernard Hopkins in May 2011 and has fought just once since because of a chronic shoulder problem, while Bute, who turned 33 last month, lost his title by knockout to Froch last May and struggled badly in his only fight since.