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Joshua Buatsi turns down IBF final eliminator against Jean Pascal, Michael Eifert next in line

Lou DiBella outbid Eddie Hearn for the rights to Joshua Buatsi vs Jean Pascal last month

Joshua Buatsi v Ricards Bolotniks - Press Conference Photo by Leigh Dawney/Getty Images

No. Not again. We just managed to escape.

Dan Rafael revealed earlier today that Joshua Buatsi “fail[ed] to return [a] signed agreement” for his IBF final eliminator against Jean Pascal, which Lou DiBella outbid Eddie Hearn for the rights to last month, by the mandated deadline. As a result, no. 5 Pascal will now be ordered to meet no. 6 Michael Eifert for a crack at one of Artur Beterbiev’s belts.

Hearn’s having a pissing match with Pascal (36-6-1, 20 KO) and Rafael in the replies to that post, arguing that Pascal didn’t agree to VADA testing while Pascal insists that he filled out his forms and Rafael points out that he signed the IBF bout agreement that included testing. Personally, I think it’s Eddie throwing a tantrum because the fight would have landed on BT Sport. You’ll recall that Buatsi (16-0, 13 KO) also declined a European title fight with Callum Johnson after Frank Warren won the purse bid.

Buatsi apparently stated that he’s received an offer to fight Callum Smith, but Smith’s already the WBC mandatory, so I have my doubts.

As for Eifert (11-1, 4 KO), he’s here because he won the IBF’s “inter-continental light heavyweight title” in July. Going by his record, he’s on the Apinun Khongsong side of IBF “contenders,” and Pascal should truck him without issue.

Funnily enough, as Jake Donovan points out elsewhere, Buatsi stretching things out instead of just giving them a “no” right off the bat actually worked out in Pascal’s favor. The IBF rankings updated on Monday, and Joe Smith Jr was ahead of Eifert beforehand. Man, that would have been fun while it lasted.