Jean Pascal and Chad Dawson weighed in Friday at the fancy MAA fitness club in downtown Montreal for tonight's light heavyweight title fight. The event was open to the public, so that explains the chants of "Pascal, Pascal" when the popular current WBC 175-pound champ entered the room wearing a baseball cap and stepped to the scale. Dawson didn't have a hat, but he had the words "Champion Breed" shaved into his hair. They both made weight at 174 pounds and change.
Sitting in the back was a quiet guy with a long, black case -- Nigel Collins, editor of Ring Magazine, who had flown up from Pennsylvania with the Ring light heavyweight belt. No one has held the belt since Joe Calzaghe retired, but after this fight someone besides Nigel will go home with it.
"Now we've got a perfect matchup between a No. 1 [Dawson] and a No. 2 [Pascal]," Collins said. He was just hoping the fight won't be a draw. "I don't want to have to carry this back with me on the plane," he said.
Pascal is the titlist (he has the WBC belt that Dawson once had), but Dawson, who's undefeated and has been in against more seasoned opponents, is favored.
Some fans and journalists gathered around Larry Merchant, prodding him for words of wisdom. Larry will call the fight for U.S. audiences with Jim Lampley, Emanuel Steward and Harold Lederman. (There has been some griping north of the border over limited access to the English-language telecast outside of Quebec.) Merchant said this clash in Montreal made him think of the 1958 fight at the Montreal Forum when Archie Moore invaded town to battle Canadian hero Yvon Durelle for the world light-heavy crown. That fight featured seven knockdowns and was an all-time classic.
Merchant wondered whether Pascal and Dawson have the stuff to pull off that kind of an epic clash but he wasn't super optimistic about that happening.
Pascal has lost just once, in a fantastic fight in Nottingham, England, against Carl Froch. That one was all-out war, with neither guy giving an inch. Froch has talked about moving up to light heavyweight after the Super Six tournament to give Pascal a rematch. That may hinge on what happens here. Dawson looks ready to prove his hairstyle slogan accurate, even if he's been winning unspectacular fights against veteran opponents lately (Glen Johnson, Antonio Tarver).
Dawson's camp has been talking about winning and then coming back to Montreal to fight super middleweight champ Lucian Bute at a catch weight of 172, so Bute's title wouldn't be at risk and they'd all make a pile of Loonies. The boxing fans here in Montreal would come out for that one -- they are passionate about the sport and love their hometown guys. They're expecting more than 10,000 at the fight in the hockey arena tonight.