Pascal-Hopkins comes to Toronto...sort of
Oct. 19 the two fighters along with their promoters will hold a press conference in downtown Toronto (location still TBD), the first stop in multi-city press tour to hype their Dec. 18 title bout in Quebec City and a chance find answers to important pre-fight questions.
Like how sharp is Pascal's trash-talk game?
We already know Hopkins is a master. In the buildup to his 2001 bout with Puerto Rican legend Felix "Tito" Trinidad, Hopkins threw the Puerto Rican flag at two separate news conferences...including one in San Juan. Can Pascal match that level of antagonism? Is it wise to even try?
And how will the Golden Boy like Toronto?
As Hopkins' promoter, six-division world champ and crossover boxing star Oscar de la Hoya is tentatively scheduled to show up at the news conference, bringing his famous name and 100-watt smile, but hopefully leaving behind the outfit he wore in this 1997 fitness video.
Golden Boy cameos aside, there's good news for local fight fans.
Promoter Yvon Michel confirms the Pascal-Hopkins bout will be available on pay-per-view across Canada.
I don't know what you guys did when Pascal took on Chad Dawson in August, but I bounced from bar to bar with the same result -- the fight's not on here, or anywhere else outside Quebec. Settled for Shoeless Joe's on Eglinton Ave. at Avenue Rd., where I watch west coast baseball, endured off-key karaoke and devoured a mountain of chicken wings while receiving round-by-round text message updates from friends watching on HBO in the U.S.
I guess that's somebody's idea of a successful fight night, but it's just not mine.
But Michel, who owns the Canadian PPV rights to the bout says he's already getting calls from sports bars nationwide about Pascal-Hopkins and so plans to make it available to as many Canadians as possible.
In fact, Michel originally intended to stage the entire card at the Air Canada Centre, just steps from where Tuesday's news conference will take place.
If you talk to enough boxing people you might have heard the rumour already -- that Michel and the ACC reached a deal to bring the show to Toronto but were undermined by the Ontario Athletic Commission. According to the rumour currently circulating, Athletic commissioner Ken Hayashi said no to the biggest title fight to (potentially) come to Toronto since Clyde Gray lost to Jose Napoles in 1973 because the Dec. 18 date conflicted with his vacation.
A juicy story for sure, and one that fits the popular idea that the commission isn't just incompetent and understaffed, but actually hates boxing...or MMA.
Earlier this year we discussed how the provincial commission sometimes drops the ball in terms of matchmaking, in-ring safety and event planning, but to turn away this big of an event in favour of a vacation blurs the line between indifference and obstructionism and is a sexy enough scandal to land on the front page of the sports section.
If it's true.
But this story isn't.
Not quite, anyway.
Michel says he did in fact look into booking the ACC for Dec. 18 and learned that while the arena wasn't officially booked, organizers of another event had provisionally reserved the place for that night and were closing on a final booking. After informing ACC officials of his interest in the Dec. 18 date, Michel relayed his plans to athletic commissioner Ken Hayashi actually did Michel that he had planned a vacation for mid-December since no boxing events had been booked for that month.
So to that extent, the rumour is true enough.
But Michel says Hayashi quickly called him back and told him not to worry about vacation plans. If he wanted to host the fight in Ontario he could do it. With the ACC not quite free Michel considered the ScotiaBank Centre in Ottawa before finally deciding to stage the bout in Quebec City.
He insists, however, that the comission didn't interfere with his hopes to bring the fight to Toronto and that a major card at the ACC remains on his to-do list.
In the meantime, we'll have to settle for Tuesday's press conference and the verbal sparring that's sure to ensue.
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