There's always a fight here or there that I really wish would find its way on to an American television network. One of them on this summer's schedule is the bout between light heavyweight titlist Adrian Diaconu and Jean Pascal.
I know I'm not alone in the desire to see it. Based on the numerous comments and questions in my Friday afternoon ESPN.com chat that have asked specifically about the American television situation for that fight, there are plenty of Fight Freaks who also want to see it.
Guess what? I have great news for you: Versus has picked up the rights to the June 19 fight at Montreal's Bell Centre and will televise it live at 9 p.m. ET. The two-hour telecast, which unfortunately will butt heads with the ESPN2 "Friday Night Fights" card headlined by featherweight Fernando Beltran Jr. against Monty Meza-Clay, will also include cruiserweight Troy Ross' first bout since he won the "Contender" tournament. Get those DVRs ready.
I had heard some rumblings about Versus picking up the card over the weekend, and the network confirmed it with me Monday morning.
It's great news. With some excellent shows late last year, including the epic Tomasz Adamek-Steve Cunningham cruiserweight championship fight in December, Versus finished 2008 strong. But this year has been awfully dry, with the network's only live boxing show being "The Contender" finale. Picking up Diaconu-Pascal was an intelligent decision. The network owes promoter Tournament of Contenders at least two more cards this year and was going to put on a proposed fight between interim cruiserweight titlist Ola Afolabi and Ross on June 20. But that went by the wayside because of Afolabi's visa problems.
Because Ross was moved to the June 19 card and is co-promoted by Tournament of Contenders and Yvon Michel, who also promotes Pascal, it made perfect sense for Versus to move up its date by one day and jump to the June 19 card in Montreal, where 20,000 figure to fill the Bell Centre to cheer for the fighters, both of whom have adopted the city as their hometown.
For my money, Diaconu-Pascal is going to be a terrific fight with a lively atmosphere in one of the biggest matches in Canadian history. Diaconu (26-0, 15 KOs), a 2000 Romanian Olympian, is as rugged as they come. In the handful of his bouts I've seen, he has been an action fighter who likes to mix it up. Pascal (22-1, 15 KOs), who is from Haiti but represented Canada in the 2004 Olympics, also makes good fights. His competitive decision loss in December to Carl Froch for a vacant super middleweight belt was a ferocious battle and a fight of the year candidate. In his return from the loss on April 4, Pascal scored a sensational fifth-round knockout of Pablo Zamora Neives.
Montreal's two leading promoters, Michel and InterBox, which promotes Diaconu, have teamed up for the first time in order to co-promote this fight, which they say will be the first world-title bout between Quebec-based boxers.
"I am a man who enjoys a real challenge, and have never backed away from the best boxers in the light heavyweight division," Diaconu said when the fight was announced earlier this month. "I wish the same were true for them. I am taking Jean Pascal extremely serious. We are both very thirsty for victory. There will be no gifts in that Bell Centre ring. I will have the best preparation of my career for this fight. It is an honor for me to be fighting in this historical championship fight between two local boxers. I will do everything to win in front of my fans and to prove that I am a true champion."
Said Pascal: "I am extremely proud and excited to be a part of this megafight. Thanks to this fight, my name will forever be engraved in the history of Quebec boxing. I know this will be a rough, tough and challenging battle, but all I have done in my career up to this point has prepared me well."
Montreal figures to be pumped up by the time fight night rolls around. Thankfully, those of us in the States will also be able to get in on the fun.