Former IBF super middleweight titleholder Lucian Bute has suffered an injury to his left hand that will force the postponement of his May 25 fight with former light heavyweight champ Jean Pascal at Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, their promoters, Groupe Yvon Michel (GYM) and InterBox, announced on Tuesday.
“I am very disappointed by this injury. I have never been in better shape. My preparation was ahead of schedule until late last week,” said Bute, in a prepared statement.
“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 undergo this operation. I feel very sad for the fans.”
Bute-Pascal was to be part of an HBO-televised doubleheader with the 168-pound rematch between IBF super middleweight beltholder Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler, who decisioned Froch in April of 2010, from the O2 Arena in London.
Bute will undergo surgery this week to remove bone fragments from his hand and recovery is anticipated to take a few weeks, according to the press release.
“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 25. We are all very disappointed with this turn of events,” said Bute’s head trainer Stephan Larouche.
“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.”
“This is very discouraging for the team. 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,” said Interbox President Jean Bedard.
“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.”
Pascal (27-2-1, 16 knockouts) is coming off a unanimous-decision triumph over Aleksy Kuziemski last December that helped him to rebound from the unanimous-decision loss to Bernard Hopkins in May of 2011.
“I was so excited when I met with the media last week. I thought that I was in the best shape of my life and very optimistic about my fight with Bute. We now need to start over,” said Pascal.
“But I am a professional. I know that these things happen, and I think that sooner or later, we will both be in the ring to settle our differences. And I would like to add that I would still fight on May 25. I am ready to face anyone.”
Bute (31-1, 24 KOs) is coming off a unanimous-decision victory over previously unbeaten Denis Grachev last November, which helped him to rebound from last May’s fifth-round knockout loss to Froch that dethroned him as IBF titleholder.
“Obviously, when we first heard the news a few hours ago, we were all in shock. This is part of boxing and we are aware that we have to live and deal with these contingencies,” said Michel.
“Our perception is that this only a postponement. We ask Quebec to show understanding and patience. We wish a speedy recovery to Lucian.”
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]