Former super middleweight titlist Lucian Bute suffered a left hand injury in training, forcing him to withdraw on Tuesday from his Canadian super fight with former light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal.
The Montreal stars were due to meet in a light heavyweight bout in an HBO main event from the Bell Centre -- where Pascal and Bute have regularly drawn big crowds -- on May 25 in what many viewed as the biggest fight in Canadian history.
Bute will have surgery this week to remove bone fragments from his hand, InterBox, his promoter announced.
"I am very disappointed by this injury. I have never been in better shape," Bute said. "My preparation was ahead of schedule until late last week. The fans that paid high ticket prices to see me in action against Pascal deserve to see both boxers at their best. Unfortunately, I would be far from my best in my present state. For my own good, I have to take the advice of my doctor and (will) undergo this operation. I feel very sad for the fans."
Said Stephan Larouche, Bute's trainer, "This situation is heartbreaking. Lucian's preparation surpassed our objectives and now this injury will prevent him from offering his fans a great performance on May 25th. We are all very disappointed with this turn of events but the decision to go straight to surgery was the only one to be made as he could no longer use his left hand adequately in training. In the past, we made the error of not listening to the signs of distress coming from the body of an athlete. We do not want to make these same mistakes again."
There is no word yet on whether the card will be scrapped or if it will still go ahead with the rest of the bouts.
"As per May 25, I don't know yet what will happen," said Yvon Michel, Pascal's promoter. "We are in search of the best solution right now."
The fight was supposed to be part of a split-site HBO telecast with the network televising the Mikkel Kessler-Carl Froch super middleweight title fight rematch from the O2 Arena in London at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT and then airing Pascal-Bute at 10 p.m. ET/PT along with a replay of Kessler-Froch II. Now HBO will have just Kessler-Froch II.
Talk of a fight between Pascal (27-2-1, 16 KOs) and Bute (31-1, 24 KOs) has gone on for years but they were on separate tracks making good money for other fights. The fight was finally made when they had no other place to turn for a bigger fight.
Pascal, 30, lost his world light heavyweight title to Bernard Hopkins in May 2011 and has fought just once since because of a chronic shoulder problem, easily outpointing Aleksy Kuziemski in a 10-round fight on Dec. 14.
Bute, 33, lost his super middleweight title by fifth-round knockout to Froch last May in Froch's hometown of Nottingham, England. In his only appearance since Froch, Bute struggled mightily to a 12-round decision win against Denis Grachev on Nov. 3.
"This is very discouraging for the team," InterBox president Jean Bedard said. "InterBox and Lucian Bute have been through a lot to offer this fight to the fans, but unfortunately injuries are a part of the sport. We made the decision to postpone the fight in the best interests of the fans and of our boxer, Lucian. We will do everything in our power so that Lucian rehabilitates from this injury as fast as possible so he can lace up the gloves against Jean Pascal."