Translated with permission from La Presse/Gabriel Béland / As reported by Mr. Gabriel Béland from La Presse newspaper in Montreal: Montreal, March 19th 2013 – Last Thursday, the fight between Jean Pascal and Lucian Bute was on life support. Friday, it was revived. What happened during this time? Nothing that a 2-hour steak dinner between Jean Pascal and Jean Bédard couldn’t fix.
“The fight against Bute is off”. Those were the words former Light Heavyweight World champion Jean Pascal was ready to tweet last Thursday. He wrote it out on his phone and was ready to hit the send button.
Negotiations hit a brick wall that day. Pascal was unable to reach agreement on several terms with his promoter, Yvon Michel. “There was no end in sight” remembers Pascal.
Just as Pascal readied to quash the most significant fight in Canadian history, his phone rang.
“Normally I do not answer calls in the middle of tweeting. I don’t know why I took the call right away that day”.
It was Jean Bédard, President of InterBox and promoter of Lucian Bute on the line. Under normal circumstances, the opposing boxer’s promoter would never call the rival boxer. This is highly unusual in the boxing World. The law of boxing provides for promoters to negotiate with their own boxers. But truth be told, the whole negotiation leading up to all parties finally signing on the dotted line and cementing this mega fight was, in a word, unusual.
Bedard knew negotiations were at an stalemate. “I was informed we no longer had a deal” explains Bedard. “I then asked Yvon’s permission to speak to his boxer. I wanted to try one last maneuver at saving this fight”.
Jean Bedard convinced Pascal to have dinner with him. A reservation was made at a Steakhouse in Laval, Quebec. Bedard had no idea the dinner would last 2 hours.
“We rolled up our sleeves and put all our cards on the table. We spoke frankly and candidly” states Pascal.
Bedard started off by asking Pascal to look him in the eyes and confirm his interest to fight Bute. Of course, Bedard was well aware that Pascal was quoted for years in the media that he wanted to fight Bute. “I just wanted him to say it to me. To say that he wanted to fight Lucian” recalls Bedard.
Bedard then reminded Pascal that this fight was “a joint adventure” that would make Canadian boxing history. “This fight…everyone will still be talking about this fight in 20 or 30 years time” stated Bedard.
Pascal will enter the ring last.
Pascal informed Bedard that he and Yvon Michel were not in agreement on the terms of the fight. Money was also an issue. “The differences were not major. At least not major enough to scrap a fight of this magnitude” stated Bedard.
Pascal was reassured of one point – He would enter the ring last. Since neither Bute nor Pascal are World champions, GYM and InterBox negotiated to have this issue decided by way of a coin toss. But in a last minute deal, Pascal will enter last and Lucian will benefit of the exclusive use of the Montreal Canadiens dressing room the night of the fight.
Pascal appreciated the openness of Bedard as promoter, and his willingness to meet him in the boxer’s home City. “I asked myself many questions before our meeting. I do not have a legal background: I have a degree in police technology” explains Pascal. “The meeting with Bedard helped advance this fight”.
The President of InterBox left the meeting with the feeling the fight was back on. The next day, Friday, Pascal passed by GYM’s Head Offices and a few hours later the contracts were signed.
“Jean Bedard intervened at the right moment because we were not advancing in our negotiations” stated Yvon Michel. “He did it the right way and with tact. The meeting certainly didn’t hurt!” continued Michel.
“Finally, the dream becomes reality. No need to thank me for this, as I have wanted this fight for a long time. It’s Lucian who should be thanked for signing the agreement and not looking back” concludes Pascal.
Pascal also expressed gratitude to Jean Bedard for the dinner. “He even paid the bill. I just want to say thank you!” states Pascal.