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Bute-Pascal postponed due to injury, testing in question

By Gabriel Montoya

Lucian Bute vs. Jean Pascal was likely going to be the biggest fight in Canada’s storied history of boxing. On Tuesday, the fight was indefinitely postponed when it was revealed that Bute’s injured left hand required surgery.


“The doctor said he would take off some minor piece of bone,” explained Bute’s trainer Stephen Larouche on a conference call Tuesday. “It’s bone that has been created throughout the years and now from what I understood and from Lucian said, it will ease the friction between the tendon and the bone. I think the bones will be taken out and it will feel a little bit better. It’s not a major surgery. It’s not the first one. It’s not the last one. But I think it will reduce the pain and improve Lucian’s hand for the next couple of years.”


The fight, scheduled for May 25 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada was to be televised by HBO and co-promoted by GYM (Pascal) and Interbox (Bute). The gate was reportedly upwards of $4 million and rising. Late Tuesday night, GYM was still looking at possible opponents for Pascal, who wishes to keep the date. Rumors floated that WBA light heavyweight titleholder Beibut Shumenov was in the mix but no official word from HBO or GYM was given a press time.

Larouche explained that Bute’s hand issues go back to his 2011 fight with Glen Johnson but that this particular injury occurred last Wednesday in the third round when Bute struck the elbow of Lonnie Thompson. Larouche explained that pain management is what fighters do until it cannot be managed any longer. This was the case here.


“As time goes on, you feel pain here and there but it’s always pain you can tolerate,” said Larouche. “You go for some medication and you take some painkillers. You do the job, you go the through sparring and three days later you don’t feel pain no more. But it comes to a point some times where the pain is just too much. Lucian hit the elbow of Lonnie Thompson in the third round of sparring last Wednesday and we had to stop sparring. I just told him ‘Don’t throw the left no more.’ We took off the gloves and his hand was swollen like a little football. So it was aggravated injury last week that was present but always under control.”


Larouche and Bute decided to manage the injury and see what would happen. They had an MRI done but resumed sparring on Friday, having the southpaw Bute box using only his lead right hand.  


“We iced the hand and the next day it was a little better and we sparred with one hand on Friday. And the sparring was decent. It was good. We thought ‘By Monday we’ll be fine.’ We did an MRI last week. By Monday he couldn’t touch his hand. By Tuesday we had to come to a decision,” explained Larouche.


Larouche explained that surgery on the hand will take place Thursday. Bute’s recovery could take anywhere from six months to a year.


“6-8 weeks with the cast and then some hand therapy,” said Larouche. “It differs from person to person but between six months to a year and then hopefully Lucian will be able to fight by the beginning of the year.”


Beyond the eventual fate of this lucrative fight is the question of what will become of the extensive random anti-doping program that both camps had agreed to. There has been much speculation in the media regarding the agreed upon testing for this fight. According to a report by Herb Zurkowsky of the Montreal Gazette in late March, Larouche was initially the man who asked for anti-doping testing.


It is not certain if the recent hiring of Angel “Memo” Heredia as Pascal’s strength and conditioning coach had anything to do with decision to test the fighters. Heredia, who is also the strength coach of Juan Manuel Marquez, was also the star witness in the 2008 trial of track coach Trevor Graham. Known as “Source A” in the trial, Heredia provided testimony after being caught by U.S. officials and accused of steroid dealing and money laundering in 2005.


Informative links on the history of Heredia:


Heredia claims to be a full advocate of anti-doping. However, since he has entered boxing sometime in mid to late 2011, not one of his fighters has undergone random testing despite Heredia’s claim to Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports in December 2012’s Marquez-Pacquiao 4 media build-up “he was working with the government to develop drug-testing protocols for professional boxing.”


In regards to Heredia’s claims that he work is working with USADA to create a drug testing protocol for boxing, a December 11, 2012 article printed by Michael O’Keeffe and Teri Thompson of the New York Daly News, claimed “sources familiar with the agency say they don’t believe that to be the case.”


Read more:


Heredia tweeted an opening email exchange from March regarding testing with USADA but to date, Pascal is as close as a Heredia fighter has come to doing random testing.


Regardless of why they entered into an agreement to have random anti-doping testing conducted, Interbox and GYM released a joint statement on April 16 regarding the program.


“InterBox, Lucian Bute, Jean Pascal and Groupe Yvon Michel (GYM) hereby confirm that anti-doping tests are in place leading up to their fight scheduled on May 25th at the Montreal Bell Centre,” the statement read. “All parties have agreed on all procedures and both fighters have approved the anti-doping program. The program is inspired by the highest standards in the industry and calls for unannounced testing for each boxer before, during and after the May 25th fight. At the request of the third parties involved in this effort, all procedures and intervening companies shall remain confidential. Both promoters, together with their respective boxers and team members, will not comment further on any aspect related to the program or procedures in place.”


Many in the media have wondered about this lack of transparency. Heredia, on twitter has questioned openly why testing has not begun for the fight, which leads one to believe it has not begun. That is a very good question. But to this writer it seems clear in the language that “at the request of the third parties” most likely means at the request of either the sample collection agency or the labs conducting the testing, the procedures involved are being kept in secret. The idea of transparency is not one universally embraced in the anti-doping community. In fact, it would appear to be quite the opposite. Transparency is a matter of philosophy.


A brief example:


There are two agencies boxing fans are most familiar with: the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA).


Both agencies utilize World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA, the standard setting anti-doping agency) accredited labs. But USADA is a believer in the traditional school of thought that the less the athlete knows about the testing, the better. The unknown is a deterrent to that school of thinking. They may do a certain test a certain percentage of the time, they may not. The athlete, according to this philosophy, should never know the window of testing or what tests are to be conducted.


To a group like VADA, strict testing protocols and rules are the way to catch drug cheats. The highly effective Carbon Isotope Ratio testing method is used on 100% of every urine sample taken by VADA in order to attempt to detect the PED of choice for the modern athlete: synthetic testosterone. This is a selling point of VADA. They aren’t trying to hide what they do.


Another differing rule in regards to this philosophy is the missed tests rule. Under VADA rules, if an athlete misses two sample collection dates, whether that is in Nonito Donaire’s 365/24/7 testing protocol or a simple training cap length protocol, he is out of the program and the missed test is considered a positive test. That result is sent to WADA and the relevant agencies such as Fight Fax, the commission of record, etc.


In USADA’s year round program for amateur athletes, an athlete can miss three times within eighteen months with the third miss being the positive. It’s unknown how many tests a fighter can miss in the testing protocol set up between for training camp only.


This is not to be used as a selling point for either agency but rather a quick look at an older way of thinking and a newer way of thinking. I point this out to say that this third party asking for silence regarding the testing is not an unusual request. It is in fact, how things are normally done. Time will tell if that is good, bad or indifferent.


The drug testing program, as reported by Lem Satterfield of ( was purportedly supposed to last through a possible rematch between Bute and Pascal. Interbox president Jean Bedard said that with all the work put in by both companies to put this testing program together, it’s hard to imagine abandoning it. However, as the fight was barely being postponed on Tuesday and so many questions left such as what to do with the rest of the card, it’s hard to know at present what will happen to it going forward.


When asked if testing had even begun, Bedard answered “It’s confidential because we don’t want the fighters to know if the testing is on or not so we keep it confidential. But with the fight postponed, we will see what is going to happen with the program. But for sure it could continue.”


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