“You should never judge a book by its cover…” Word of Jean Pascal, he will not let himself be lulled by the relatively modest record (11-1, 4 K.-O.) and the low reputation of his future opponent, Michael Eifert.

Born on December 30, 1997, eight years before Pascal’s professional debut, the 25-year-old German claims to have no complexes for his Thursday night clash at Place Bell in Laval, his first away from home. Europe.

The Quebecer has promised to give him the knockout, a projection that leaves the main interested party cold.

“I don’t want to talk about things like that,” reacted Eifert through his assistant coach at a press conference Monday afternoon in Laval. “I came here to win and I know I’m going to get there. I’ve worked for this all my life and that’s all that matters. I will not make a prediction, except that I will win. »

Originally from Magdeburg, capital of the state of Saxony-Anhalt in eastern Germany, Michael Eifert made his professional debut in 2018 at the age of 20. Two years later, he suffered his only defeat in his seventh meeting against then-undefeated compatriot Tom Dzemski. He avenged this failure a year later by winning by split decision. He won the IBF and WBC (under 24) light heavyweight youth world belts, adding to the WBO title he already held.

Crowned German champion in 2021, Eifert rocketed to fifth on the IBF contenders list by virtue of a unanimous decision victory over undefeated Italian Adriano Sperandio, earning him the Intercontinental belt of the IBF. ‘IBF, the organization’s second highest prestige. Largely defensive, the face-to-face will not go down in history.

The winner of the duel against Pascal (36-6-1, 20 KOs) will become a mandatory contender for the IBF world crown currently owned by Montrealer Artur Beterbiev.

Eifert got the “fight of [his] life” after Briton Joshua Buatsi, who was then in third place in the IBF rankings, withdrew.

Despite Pascal’s much higher profile, promoter Yvon Michel isn’t ready to give him a clear advantage on Thursday. “You have to be careful,” he warned. We don’t know Eifert so well. »

Like Pascal, the Groupe Gym CEO describes the German as a “classic boxer” who likes to lean on his back leg.

“Like most European boxers, he likes to place the jab and use his right hand,” said Yvon Michel. It’s not a punishing jab, as seen more in North America. He’s really focused on the back hand. The jab serves more to feel, keep and control the distance between him and the opponent. »

The promoter expects a difficult start to the game for the 40-year-old local favorite. “I think Jean’s experience is going to make the difference, but in the early rounds it’s going to be tough for him. Eifert is young, vigorous, dynamic and self-confident. I talked to Jean and his coach about it when I went to see them in Miami. They are aware of this: the first part of the fight is going to be difficult. [It will] have to get through that and take him to waters where the guy has never been. »

Unlike his Florida coach Orlando Cuellar, who hopes for a “street fight”, Pascal expects another scenario with this “technical boxer”. “It’s going to be up to me to take it to the depths of the waters so I can drown it,” he slipped, echoing Yvon Michel.

Nicknamed the “Diesel”, Michael Eifert does not see his engine choke even if he ventures for the first time in an engagement planned for 12 assaults. “I’ve always had good stamina and it’s not a problem for me to go 10 or 12 rounds, assured the pugilist in an interview. I have prepared myself accordingly and I see no problem with it. »

According to his trainer Ali Celik, Eifert completed more than 120 mock sparring rounds during his internship in the Bavarian Forest and his home base of Magdeburg. Among other things, he put on the gloves against the Italian Giovanni De Carolis, ex-world super middleweight monarch.

Arriving first at the press conference, Eifert took a look at his next opponent when he entered the restaurant about fifteen minutes later.

“I didn’t spend too much time watching him and knowing if he was watching me,” he later clarified. I focus on me and me alone. The rest doesn’t matter to me. »

The 5-foot-11-and-a-half athlete, an inch taller than the Quebecer, says he expects anything, including unfair blows.

“I prepared for any eventuality. I know Pascal likes to do unusual things, like jumping up to his rival and stuff like that. I’m ready for it all and I plan to dictate the pace of the fight. »

Eifert, who is setting foot in Canada for the first time, has an idol: Artur Beterbiev, the 18-KO native Russian. consecutive.

“I am very interested in all Russian boxers. My models are Beterbiev, Sergei Kovalev and Dmitrii Bivol. »

Jean Pascal had the chance to compete against the bottom two, losing each time, including two losses against Kovalev.

Now both Thursday night rivals have a unique opportunity to put their name in the hat for Beterbiev, even though the latter has made it clear that his only interest is the WBA belt held by Bivol. But that’s for another chapter.

Veteran promoter Lou DiBella is the winner of this playoff duel for the IBF World Crown. The New Yorker has offered US$975,000, which is $100,000 more than his British counterpart, Eddie Hearn, of Matchroom Boxing, according to journalist Dan Rafael. DiBella, who later teamed up with Yvon Michel to organize Thursday’s “Sold On” event in Laval, probably hit on the spot as the reason for the lackluster ticket sales so far: doping control positive of Pascal in 2021.

“People make mistakes,” he said at a press conference on Monday. People have problems that they have to overcome. He paid the price for the mistake he made. On paper, he lost millions of dollars. He was punished. And I’m not going to try [to assign blame to one or the other]. It doesn’t matter: if you test positive, you test positive. It’s not okay to be positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

“But the guy paid the price and he came back. He came back quietly and beat Fanlong Meng when no one believed him. He has proven that he is capable of beating a world class boxer. […] He deserved this battle against Eifert. »

On Tuesday, Yvon Michel was delighted with the response at the counters in recent days. “There’s a lot of movement and we’re very happy with how it’s going,” he said at the conclusion of the undercard press conference.