This week, a massive explosion hit social media as Josh Buatsi pulled the plug on an IBF light heavyweight eliminator with Jean Pascal.
Using Pascal’s past misdemeanors as cause for concern, and rightly so, Buatsi insisted on random VADA drug testing. The move came after Lou DiBella won the IBF purse bid by offering almost $1,000,000 to stage the fight.
As World Boxing News clarified, DiBella agreed to Buatsi’s request and had his team contact VADA to set things up.
Despite getting the ball rolling on the procedure and Pascal’s whereabouts being disclosed to VADA, Buatsi’s team insisted an entirely new contract was drawn up with the drug testing stipulation.
And this is where both sides disagree on what went down next. Josh Buatsi handler Eddie Hearn claims his man would have signed if the contract had come through before a recent deadline.
Why did Josh Buasti vs Jean Pascal get canceled?
However, DiBella and Pascal’s manager Greg Leon see it as Hearn, Buatsi, and 258 Management stalling until after the deadline to avoid the fight.
Leon also claimed Buatsi had no intention of following through with the contest after Hearn lost the bidding process.
DiBella has passed the UK rights of the bout onto Hearn’s arch-nemesis Frank Warren.
The whole situation came to a head for the whole of the boxing community to witness.
DiBella said: “It’s completely dishonest bull****. If this is what 258 Management is spinning, they are complete frauds.
“Pascal enrolled in VADA and submitted his whereabouts to them. Team Buatsi got notified. This is either fear or tv/streaming politics [over BT Sport televising the fight].
He added directly to Hearn: “Stop being cute. Are you ever f***ing honest?”
As usual, the Matchroom Boxing boss didn’t take much time to respond by saying: “Then why not put it in the contract as requested from the beginning?
“Cheeky boy Louis!”
DiBella further outlined their actions: “The bout agreement for Buatsi was distributed to all parties last week. The hard deadline for IBF bout agreements was 5 pm yesterday [Tuesday].
“Forget that it was unnecessary; the request for change in the bout agreement didn’t come until After the deadline! See below,” added the Hall of Famer bringing out emails to show his argument.”
Greg Leon added his input by claiming Matchroom matchmaker Kevin Rooney Jr. told him weeks ago the fight wouldn’t happen.
He explained: “If your team really wanted the fight, would your employees be sending me s*** like this today?
“What else happened weeks ago? That’s right. You lost the bid! If you’re team really wanted VADA testing, it could’ve begun last week when they got our papers.
“All you had to was sign.”
He directed his attention to Hearn after the IBF ordered Pascal to go through the bidding process again to face Michael Eifert; Leon added: “He sounds like a clown who should’ve bid 87k more quid if he wanted to dictate policy.
“Now he’s blaming everybody else for his mistakes. Notice he’s not touching my tweets. JP, leave him alone. Get to the gym and train for Eifert.”
Josh Buatsi vs Jean Pascal deal never got signed
At that point, Pascal himself inserted himself into the conversation.
The controversial former world champion vowed to change his ways following four adverse findings in tests done in 2021. He has since defeated Meng Fanlong to earn consideration by the IBF.
“We agreed to Vada since day one! We sent my paperwork in,” confirmed Pascal. “If they wanted it written in the contract, why wait ten minutes before the deadline?
“Why not ask for it right when they receive it?”
Leon responded to fan concerns: “They were stalling. People genuinely concerned over drug testing don’t let a week go by. We didn’t have to rush anything because they were in danger of default, not us. We signed everything.”
DiBella and Hearn exchange
Hearn then came back into the fold.
“You agreed on Vada from day one but wouldn’t put it in the contract,” said the Essex man.
DiBella, Hearn, and Pascal then went through a revealing back and forth.
LD: Here’s why Eddie. And you know that the request for a provision in the bout agreement was unnecessary and after the IBF deadline.
JP: You asked to put it in the contract after the deadline. Are you serious right now? You were trying to stall the process?
My form was already in VADA’s hands. Why didn’t you ask that from the beginning? You waited until the deadline. As it probably was your way out of the fight.
EH: Why did your team refuse to put VADA testing in the contract?
LD: Because we had already, in writing, committed to VADA testing, Pascal had submitted his VADA forms.
No request was received at all from Matchroom/Josh Buatsi until after the IBF’s deadline for receipt of bout agreements. This is a shameful shifting of blame!
And the IBF standard form bout agreement doesn’t require VADA testing. We addressed the VADA request because we felt it was fair, given Pascal’s history.
We copied the IBF on our submittal to VADA testing despite it having nothing to do with them or their bout agreement.
JP: Didn’t you forget you lost the bid? Even tho we accepted your VADA request. You just had to send the signed contract. The testing would have started right away.
Stop with your false narrative, Eddie. We are smart over here. We went to college, and Lou DiBella went to Harvard.
EH: Did your team agree with our request to put it in the contract? Yes or no?
JP: We never refused! Lou and Greg tell Eddie to stop with his fake news. False narrative!
Ask VADA if they have my form filled out since last week. Eddie needs not to smear my name and accept the fact they were scared for Josh Buatsi.
The entire debacle is yet another example of the animosity between Eddie Hearn and some promoters in the United States.
Nothing seems to go smoothly when Lou, Bob Arum, Oscar De La Hoya, or Leonard Ellerbe are involved.
It’s sad for the fans and the fighters that promotional enemies can’t bury their differences for the sake of the sport.
Unfortunately, nothing seems likely to change anytime soon.
The views expressed in this article are the opinions of Phil Jay.