ON May 28, just nine days before his scheduled June 6 rematch with fellow highly ranked light-heavyweight Badou Jack, it came to light that Jean Pascal had tested positive for three banned substances, leading the fight to be cancelled.
In an official statement posted on his social media account, Pascal insisted that he had not knowingly ingested any performance-enhancing drugs.
“I am shocked and embarrassed,” the 38-year-old Canadian wrote. “I would never voluntarily take illegal substances. I’ve always fought for a clean sport and will continue to do so. I’m one of the first modern boxers to insist on random testing and I’ve passed countless tests during my 13 years at the highest level of boxing.
“I want to assure all my fans that this is an isolated incident and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to prove it. My strength and conditioning coach was fired last night. I realise that no matter what I say, this is a stain on my name and I’m determined to wash it out. If that means I have to come out of pocket for the most advanced 365 days random VADA testing available to boxers then that’s what I’ll do.”
Writing on his own social media account, Jack gave Pascal’s words short shrift and made his feelings clear on the subject.
“My fight with Jean Pascal is off as he tested positive for three different steroids,” stated the 37-year-old Swede. “We suspected he was dirty the first time around and VADA confirmed it this time. I’m still fighting on June 6 and my team is looking for a replacement opponent.
“I can’t even pronounce these steroids he took – drostanolone, drostanolone metabolite and epitrenbolone. #Cheater. #Coward. ‘I would never voluntarily take illegal substances.’ Yeah right. He just injected three different steroids while sleeping [clown face emoji].”
Pascal and Jack had originally faced off in December 2019. In what was a crowd-pleasing, all-action affair, both men were sent to the canvas – Jack in round four and Pascal in the 12th. The close-fought nature of the bout was reflected in the judges’ scorecards, with each of them handing in marks of 114-112. One of the officials sided with Jack, while the other two favoured Pascal, making him the winner by split verdict.
Due to the entertainment provided by the fight, and the debate provoked by the outcome, a return clash always seemed likely. The coronavirus pandemic prevented the sequel from occurring last year, but the decorated veterans were finally set to renew hostilities over 12 rounds this Sunday inside Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium.
Unlike Jack, who had an eight-round run-out a little more than six months ago, Pascal has not competed since their first contest. Speaking to Boxing News before the VADA results had been submitted, the Haiti-born boxer was looking forward to getting back into the ring this weekend after a near-18-month hiatus, though this will obviously no longer be happening.
“I’m a fighter and I want to fight as often as possible,” Pascal said. “But I did have three fights at the top level against [Dmitry] Bivol, [Marcus] Browne and Jack all in 13 months, so the rest could be a good thing.
“I didn’t fight last year, so there wasn’t much to deal with. I didn’t start getting back into camp until the end of 2020. I’ve been training in Puerto Rico, as I’ve done in the past, so the pandemic and the lockdown didn’t really affect me in that sense.
“Jack and I have styles that mesh well for the fans. It’s going to be another war and I expect to shine. I won the last fight and, on June 6, I’m going to win again.”
Pascal-Jack II had been due to act as the chief support to Hall of Famer Floyd Mayweather’s exhibition bout with YouTuber and boxing novice Logan Paul – a curious spectacle that will be broadcast on pay-per-view in both the UK (Sky Sports Box Office) and the US (Showtime PPV).
The relatively recent trend of social media stars stepping between the ropes has attracted considerable criticism from boxing traditionalists and hardcore followers of the sport. However, having seen both of the Paul brothers up close in the gym – Logan’s younger sibling, Jake, is also a YouTuber-turned-boxer – Pascal had been impressed with their dedication.
He told BN prior to the cancellation of the Jack rematch: “Anything that can bring money to a sport as serious as boxing is good for the sport. Despite what the critics are saying, these guys are not circus acts – they’re respecting the sport. Unless you’ve trained with them like I have, you can’t really comment on it.”
Following the news from VADA, Pascal won’t have the chance to share a stage with Mayweather and Paul in Florida. Investigations will take place, but until these inquiries have been concluded, Pascal’s future remains uncertain.