- Dan Rafael, Boxing
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One of the more intriguing fights looming in 2008 is a super middleweight showdown between brash punchers Jean Pascal of Canada and Colombia's Edison Miranda, who, if all goes well, will meet June 7 in Montreal on the weekend of the annual Canadian Grand Prix Formula 1 race on whatever American TV network decides to pay for it.
Even without U.S. TV, the fight would happen because Pascal brings Canadian TV money and large crowds to Montreal's Bell Centre.
But before Miranda and Pascal meet each other, they'll have to win bouts Jan. 11 on a "Friday Night Fights" card (ESPN2) at the Hard Rock resort in Hollywood, Fla. The doubleheader gained some star power this week when a pair of fighters who competed in the recently completed third season of "The Contender" agreed to take fights against Miranda and Pascal.
Miranda (29-2, 25 KOs) will face Donny McCrary (23-7-2, 13 KOs) and Pascal (20-0, 14 KOs) will face David Banks (15-3-1, 2 KOs), who outpointed McCrary in a six-rounder on last month's "Contender" finale card in Boston.
"It's great when 'The Contender,' which ESPN has showcased, puts their guys in with other fighters ESPN has showcased on 'Friday Night Fights,' " Miranda promoter Leon Margules of Seminole Warriors Boxing told ESPN.com. "I think in addition to the Pascal-Miranda angle, the fact that 'The Contender' has had popularity on the network makes this a really good promotion and a really good card."
Jeff Wald, promoter and an executive producer of "The Contender," said his guys would work with trainer Buddy McGirt for a full training camp in Vero Beach, Fla., to prepare for the fights.
"It's two great matchups and anything can happen," Wald said. "They're both interesting fights and you have Buddy, who is the wild card. Neither one of these kids has ever had a serious trainer other than the time they spent on 'The Contender.' Buddy will definitely improve them. We're looking to upset their plans."
Miranda, the premier trash talker in boxing, is already looking ahead to meeting Pascal, especially after scouting his decision win against journeyman Brian Norman last week in Montreal.
"I came all the way from the sunny weather of San Juan to the snow in Montreal to watch nothing more than a club fight," Miranda said. "They pulled Jean's opponent right out of the circus to give him an easy night. ... The only thing that impressed me was the wonderful fans of Canada. I admire their desire to see a great fight, but felt bad for them with this disappointing circus event that Pascal delivered.
"They came out on a snowy cold night and were given nothing to cheer for during this bout. I will make a promise to these great fans. When Edison Miranda comes back to town they will have a reason to cheer. Listen to me Jean: by the end of the night, you will be lying on the canvas and 15,000 fans will be chanting 'Panthère.' "
"Panthère," of course, is French for "Pantera," Miranda's nickname.
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com.
One of the more intriguing fights looming in 2008 is a super middleweight showdown between brash punchers Jean Pascal of Canada and Colombia's Edison Miranda.