MONTREAL - Boxing legend Roy Jones Jr. says he's to blame for Jean Pascal's big mouth.
Jones said Wednesday that Pascal is part of a generation of fighters who copied his style in and out of the ring, including the pre-fight trash talk.
"I understand that in Quebec, you like silence — people that come off a little bit lower key than how Mr. Pascal comes off," Jones said. "That's partly my fault because a lot of guys grew up watching me.
"I didn't have good sense, so I said everything and did everything. But I always aimed for the sky."
The 44-year-old Jones will pull double duty on Saturday night when Pascal (28-2-1) takes on Lucian Bute (31-1) in a light heavyweight grudge match between former world champions from Montreal.
He will work as colour commentator for the HBO broadcast of the co-feature pitting Cuban heavyweight Mike Perez (20-0) against Carlos Takam (28-1) of France, then work in Pascal's corner for the main event.
A full house of more than 20,000 is expected at the Bell Centre for what it billed as one of the biggest boxing events in Canadian history. The fighters will reportedly earn $2 million each.
It pits former WBC light heavyweight champ Pascal's speed and athleticism against the heady technique of the southpaw Bute, the former IBF super-middleweight champion.
It will also establish who is best between two local fighters and two local boxing promotion companies — Pascal's Groupe Yvon Michel and Bute's InterBox.
The Romanian-born Bute is a quiet guy, not given to trash talk, but his recent assertion that he will shut Pascal's mouth was all the fodder the decidedly vocal Pascal needed.
At a press conference on the covered Bell Centre ice, Pascal challenged Bute to stand up and say that to his face. He didn't, and Pascal scoffed.
"If someone said the same thing to me, I'd come and say 'yes, I'm going to shut you up,'" said Pascal. ''When you talk, you have to face the music.
"I'm always ready to face the music. I'm going to bring Lucian Bute to The Hood on Saturday night."
Bute shrugged at Pascal's taunts.
"I worked very hard, I feel good, strong and confident," he said of the bout. "I know what I have to do."
Many fans find Pascal's flashy style and boastful talk distasteful, but it was music to Jones' ears.
The Pensacola, Fla., native who dominated boxing and won world titles in four weight classes through the 1990s and 2000s says trash talk is good. He says it will make for a better fight, and make Pascal a better fighter.
"There's always a danger — there's another guy on the other side that you might (make angry) — but that's a chance you have to be willing to take because we want to give people more than what they pay for," said Jones.
"We want to bring some attitude to this match and to do that we have to put ourselves under extreme pressure. If we don't talk, when we come (to the ring), we won't have anything to back up. Jean puts pressure on himself by talking, so he has to perform. You guys should embrace it."
Pascal, his trainer Marc Ramsay and the rest of his entourage had Jones at his high altitude training camp at the Big Bear resort in California. It was a thrill for Pascal, who idolized Jones as a youngster.
"It's inspirational to him because having your idol in your corner means you don't want to let your idol down," said Jones.
It was Pascal who approached Jones. That may be a sign that Pascal has finally understood he needs world class help with his fight preparation.
The 31-year-old won the WBC belt in 2009 but was brought down to earth in a pair of bouts with veteran Bernard Hopkins, who dodged Pascal's haymakers, let him blow himself out in the early rounds, and then took over at the end.
Pascal escaped with a draw in their first meeting in 2010, but lost a clear decision to the then 46-year-old Hopkins a year later.
"He approached me," said Jones. " He said he had to fight a southpaw and he always liked how I fought southpaws. He has no disrespect for Bute. If he did, he wouldn't have called me."
When he turned pro after the 2004 Olympics Pascal would mimic Jones' style in the ring, including keeping his hands at his waist and pot-shotting opponents. He has become a better defensive fighter since then, but still likes to throw bombs.
"Last week I was in Big Bear and I was saying 'wow, I was watching this guy when I was 14 on TV and now he's next to me and he's helping me for my next fight,' " said Pascal. "This is incredible.
"It's a dream come true. I'd watch him and I was trying to imitate him, but now I know why he was doing it and when to do it, so this is a big difference to me."
And he doesn't want to let Jones down.
"I don't want to look like a fool in front of my idol, so whatever happens, I'll try to dig down and win this fight."