The rumours they are a-fluttering that the province of Quebec will host not one but two stacked cards in the month of December, giving boxing fans the chance to see four big names in action. Light-heavyweights Lucian Bute and Adonis Stevenson are the anchor names for these two shows, but word on the street is two hard-hitting attractions have reportedly joined the cards.
Former light-heavyweight titlist Jean Pascal wants to appear on the undercard of the upcoming Lucian Bute vs. Roberto Bolonti fight, in a stay-busy encounter, as he continues to negotiate a big-bucks showdown with Adonis Stevenson. On December 6 at Montreal’s Bell Center, Pascal would face Donovan George, a fighter Stevenson already defeated two years ago. While fans scoff at the notion of Pascal appearing on the undercard of a guy he defeated in his last ring appearance, Pascal himself is pragmatic about the situation. In choosing between staying active in an undercard slot or sitting on the sidelines for several more months while he waits for “Superman” to make up his mind, the former champ prefers to train and put in some rounds to shake off the ring rust. It may not be a very savvy business decision, but it makes all the sense in the world if the popular Quebecois pugilist wants to stay in good fighting form.
The parade of Montreal light-heavyweights continues with Artur Beterbiev, hot off his dismantling of Tavoris Cloud inside of two rounds a few weeks ago. Beterbiev is currently in talks to appear on the undercard of Adonis Stevenson’s next fight, which will supposedly take place in the second half of December in Quebec City’s Pepsi Coliseum. It can’t be denied Beterbiev’s inclusion on the Stevenson card would provide it with a much needed boost, given the fact Stevenson’s opponent—yet to be determined—will in all likelihood be a lowly-ranked fighter.
Obviously, it’s a bittersweet development in the Quebec boxing scene that several matches involving intriguing names don’t hold great relevance for the division. Should they materialize, all four of the contests mentioned will aid little in clarifying where each fighter stands in relation to the others. Nevertheless, the fact that all four athletes could be competing within a few days of each other in La Belle Province speaks highly of the region’s reputation as one of the most important breeding grounds for boxing talent in North America.
And it’s also worthy of note that despite the apparent irrelevance of their upcoming matches, all four of the big names have the incentive to win in style as they attempt to stand out from a crowded field at 175-pounds. For instance, the lineal champ—Adonis Stevenson—has seen what was supposed to be a flagship 2014 turn into a PR nightmare in which he has been accused of being both greedy and cowardly after ducking Sergey Kovalev’s challenge for light-heavyweight supremacy. His upcoming December bout will do little to dispel these notions, but the added pressure of seeing other fellow Quebeckers vying to steal his thunder in his hometown should motivate him to secure a high-profile matchup for early next year.
Veteran Jean Pascal, on the other hand, is surely approaching the twilight of a long career, and is mostly looking to secure one or two big money fights before he calls it quits. If he wants to keep alive the chance of landing an all-star fight with Adonis Stevenson, he must be ready to make a good impression in December, no matter the opponent.
Finally, it’s a long shot for Lucian Bute to make his way back to the top of the rankings, even with Freddie Roach in his corner. The truth about Bute is that, like Pascal, he is closer to the end than the beginning of his career, and he’s never been the same since his thrashing at the hands of Carl Froch in England. His performance against Jean Pascal was apathetic, to say the least, and while he remains as charismatic and down-to-earth as ever, interest in his career has taken a major dive along with his subpar performances in the ring.
Artur Beterbiev is the Quebec light-heavyweight who has the most to win and the least to lose among this crowd. Thanks to his eye-catching demolition of Cloud, his name has spread like a wild fire among fight fans, and the result is aficionados are now aching to see more of his crushing ways. While Beterbiev‘s public profile has yet to take on the proportions of the other fighters mentioned here, he is the one with the most potential and the one most motivated to take on tough challenges to prove himself. In fact, he has a golden opportunity to position himself as the guy who will take on anyone, anytime and thus distance himself from Stevenson’s primadonna ways.
We reiterate, while the December matches by themselves may not be much cause for celebration, what matters is that together they represent a golden age in the light-heavyweight division and for boxing in Quebec. The hope is this is only the first step towards staging bigger and better fights on Canadian soil featuring exciting, hard-punching fighters willing to take risks for the sake of their legacies, all to the benefit of violence-thirsty fight fans. If nothing else, seeing so many big names on the marquee in a single month in the very same province that saw them develop into international attractions is proof that the boxing scene in Quebec is not only alive and well, but ready to take things to the next level. —Rafael Garcia