Jean Pascal will get a long overdue homecoming for a fight that will put him within one win of another title shot.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that representatives for Quebec’s Pascal and Germany’s Michael Eifert have reached an agreement for their ordered IBF light heavyweight title eliminator. The development comes on the eve of a now canceled purse bid hearing that was scheduled for Tuesday at IBF headquarters in Springfield, New Jersey.
The fight is expected to take place in the first quarter of 2023, at a venue to be determined in Canada, with Toronto eyed as the likely destination. It will mark the first fight on home soil for Pascal since a July 2018 win in his Laval, Quebec hometown, while Eifert will fight outside of Europe for the first time in his career.
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 (36-6-1, 20KOs) 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—who is managed by Greg Leon—to enter talks with the next highest ranked available contender, which led to Eifert.
The 39-year-old Pascal 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.
Pascal’s 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. He returned to the title stage following a technical decision win over then-unbeaten Marcus Browne in August 2019 on the road In Brooklyn, winning 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.
There will also be demand for an undisputed championship clash to trump any other fight in the division. WBA light heavyweight titlist Dmitry Bivol (20-0, 11KOs) defends against mandatory challenger Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez (44-0, 30KOs) on November 5 in Abu Dhabi. Both fighters have already expressed an interest in next facing Beterbiev.
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.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox