Joshua Buatsi and Jean Pascal have both accepted invitations from the IBF to join the negotiations for a last eliminated person to be punished.
The pair, who are light-heavy runners and have ledgers of 16-0 (13 KOs) and 36-6-1 (20 KOs) respectively, will now enter the free negotiation phase to offer terms.
Buatsi, an Olympic bronze medalist from Rio in 2016, most recently competed at the O2 Arena in London when he overcame former world title challenger Craig Richards, while Haitian Pascal, 39, of Canada , defeated Fanlong Meng on the way to relegation 12 rounds unanimous decision in May. That fight took place at the Whitesands Event Center in Plant City, Florida.
The winner of the final qualifying round will become IBF’s mandatory opponent with linear and unified champion Artur Beterbiev (18-0, 18 KOs), Canadian-Russian who also holds the WBC and WBO belts.
Both fighters have until August 11 to reach an agreement and avoid a bid hearing, with Buatsi – ranked third – getting 60 per cent of the winning bid and the former WBC champion ranked sixth Pascal gets the remaining 40%.
However, before the winner of this fight claimed a crack at the world title, Buatsi’s colleague Brit Anthony Yarde was in pole position. His promoter, Frank Warren, is said to have made a deal with Beterbiev and Top Rank for the champion to come to London – at the O2 Arena – and defend his crown.
It is known that Pascal’s team is keen to go to England to meet Buatsi and the details regarding the execution of the fight are expected to be relatively simple.