A true homecoming is in store for Jean Pascal.
BoxingScene.com has learned that the IBF light heavyweight title eliminator between Quebec’s Pascal and Germany’s Michael Eifert has a date and location. The bout will take place on February 9 at Place Bell in Pascal’s hometown of Laval, Canada.
The winner will become the IBF mandatory challenger to lineal and unified WBC/IBF/WBO light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev (18-0, 18KOs).
Pascal (36-6-1, 20KOs)—a Haiti-born former champ who relocated with his family to Laval at age four—long ago established himself as one of the biggest box-office attractions among all Canadian boxers over the course of his seventeen-year career. The upcoming fight with Eifert (11-1, 4KOs) will mark his first fight in his home country since July 2018, when Pascal ended his brief retirement to score an eighth-round knockout of Steve Bosse at the very venue hosting this title eliminator.
Eifert will bring a five-fight win streak into the ring for his first career bout outside of Europe and just third overall away from Germany.
Pascal and Eifert were instructed by the IBF to enter talks in late September, shortly after both accepted an invitation from the sanctioning body to move forward with a proposed eliminator. Pascal was already on board, having watched plans fall through for a targeted November showdown with unbeaten contender and 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist Joshua Buatsi.
The ordered title eliminator went to an August 30 purse bid hearing, where Hall of Fame promoter Lou DiBella submitted a $975,000 bid to win the rights to the fight, outpacing Matchroom Boxing, Buatsi’s career-long promoter by $100,000. The fight was targeted to take place this November in London, only for the IBF to declare Buatsi’s side in default for failure to return the signed contract by the prescribed deadline.
The development led to the IBF calling for Pascal—a 2004 Olympian for Canada who is managed by Greg Leon—to enter talks with the next highest ranked available contender, which led to Eifert. The two came to an agreement on October 31, just one day ahead of a scheduled purse bid hearing to determine promotional rights.
Pascal—who turned 40 on October 28—previously held the WBC light heavyweight title following June 2009 points win over unbeaten countryman Adrian Diaconu. Four successful defenses followed, including an August 2010 technical unanimous decision win over Chad Dawson to establish championship lineage. His reign ended in a points loss to Hall of Fame two-division champion Bernard Hopkins in their May 2011 rematch in Montreal, five months after fighting to a draw in Quebec City.
A return to the title stage saw Pascal rally to score three knockdowns of then-unbeaten Marcus Browne en route to a technical decision win in August 2019 on the road In Brooklyn. Pascal won a secondary version of the WBA light heavyweight title after three prior failed bids at the full title held by Sergey Kovalev (twice) and Dmitry Bivol.
The win over Browne was followed up by a thrilling split decision win over Jack in their December 2019 clash in Atlanta that saw both fighters hit the canvas. The two were due to meet again last June 6 in Miami Gardens, Florida, only for Pascal to test positive for multiple banned substances through testing contracted by VADA.
Pascal has since proven to be a clean fighter and still a top player at light heavyweight following a twelve-round, unanimous decision win over previously unbeaten IBF number-one contender Meng Fanlong on May 20 in Plant City, Florida.
Eifert takes a massive leap in competition as he moves within one win of challenging for his first major title.
The 24-year-old from Magdeburg, Germany has fought exclusively in Germany and against domestic-level opposition. He has won five straight following his lone defeat, an eight-round majority decision to unbeaten countryman Tom Dzemski in August 2020. The loss was avenged, as Eifert outpointed Dzemski over ten rounds last July in Magdeburg.
Two more wins have followed, including a ten-round decision over Adriana Sperandino on a July 16 show in Magdeburg that was carried live on ESPN+ in the U.S.
The Pascal-Eifert winner will have to wait out at least one more mandatory title defense before getting to the division’s top prize.
Beterbiev is due to defend against England’s Anthony Yarde (22-2, 21KOs), who is the WBO number-one contender. Their fight was due to take place on October 29, only for Beterbiev to never fully recover from knee surgery in having to postpone the fight. The two will meet on January 28 at The O2 in London.
Also waiting in the wings is Liverpool’s Callum Smith (29-1, 21KOs), the former WBA super middleweight titlist who is currently the WBC mandatory challenger at light heavyweight. WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman confirmed during and after the sanctioning body’s annual convention that the Beterbiev-Yarde winner must next face Smith.
There will also be demand for an undisputed championship clash to trump any other fight in the division. Bivol (20-0, 11KOs) is free of any mandatory challenger obligation after soundly outpointing Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez (44-1, 30KOs) to successfully defend his WBA light heavyweight title for the tenth time on November 5 in Abu Dhabi.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox