Joshua Buatsi‘s world title final eliminator against Jean Pascal will no longer take place after the Brit failed to return a signed contract in time to meet the IBF’s deadline. The governing body are now expected to order an eliminator between Pascal and Michael Eifert of Germany.
The contest between Buatsi and Pascal, for which a purse bid was won by Lou Dibella, was expected to land atop of a Queensberry Promotions bill due to a reported prior agreement between Dibella and Frank Warren.
However, news broke on Wednesday afternoon that the fight was off which brought about a storm on social media. First, Rob Tebbutt of iD Boxing claimed that after reaching out to Team Buatsi, the reason given was that Pascal allegedly failed to commit to VADA testing in writing which led to the pursuing of other options for the Rio 2016 bronze medalist. It is important to note that Pascal tested for multiple banned substances across multiple tests in 2021.
Dibella [Pascal’s promoter] was quick to respond however, writing “Pascal agreed to VADA immediately after the bid and we submitted our forms last week and notified all involved. Can call VADA and confirm”. The American also accused Team Buatsi of “shifting the blame” onto Pascal, implying there was never any intention on their part for the fight to take place. “We had already, in writing, committed in writing to VADA testing, Pascal had submitted his VADA forms, and no request was received AT ALL from Matchroom/Buatsi until after the IBF’s deadline for receipt of bout agreements. This is a shameful shifting of blame!“. Buatsi’s promoter Eddie Hearn also weighed-in on Twitter, stating “Joshua Buatsi/258 [who manage Buatsi] were insistent on VADA testing IN the contract, not once it was signed. We stated that from the very beginning. They weren’t comfortable with it“.
Pascal himself also jumped in to defend himself, claiming he had filled out the necessary documentation to ensure that around-the-clock VADA testing is in place. “Ask VADA, they have my form filled out since last week. Eddie Hearn needs to not smear my name and accept the fact they were scared for Buatsi“.
The bottom line is that, amongst all of the mess and ambiguity, Buatsi and Pascal will not be facing off after all and so the Brit will look to land another big fight soon. It’s six years now since he turned professional and, while injuries and the pandemic have not helped, many expected him to be further along in his development than the current stage he finds himself at.