The NABF light heavyweight title Lucien Bute won from Denis Grachev in 2012 is up for grabs for the first “big” fight of 2014, Saturday, January 18th in Montreal at the Bell Centre. There’s no hometown advantage as both fighters enjoyed their greatest success there as very popular assimilated Canadians, Lucian Bute being from Romania and Jean Pascal from Haiti.
Their biggest hurdles have been problematic setbacks that have knocked both from their prime form even though Pascal is only 31 and Bute only 33 years. Neither took much career punishment in the ring, yet how quickly they flamed out after being the toast of Montreal, now reduced to a squabble over the NABF bauble. The 37 year old previously unheralded ex-c0nvict Adonis Stevenson of Haiti has eclipsed the both of them in Montreal and in Ring ratings with a stunning year in 2013.
Who’d have thunk it two years ago?
This will only be Bute’s 2nd bout at lightheavy after a long reign as the IBF supermiddleweight champ, 11-1, 8 KO in title bouts with a career mark of 31-1, 24 KO. He did not fight in 2013 after this May 2013 bout was originally rescheduled because of Pascal injuries and then rescheduled again. Whether Pascal can make it to the scratch line this time around on the fight date is unknown, but he still scrapes by with a #10 Ring ranking and amazingly #5 by Boxrec. Bute has dropped out of Boxrec rankings because of inactivity thanks to Pascal, yet amazingly hangs on to his #3 Ring ranking at supermiddle. Go figure since Ring will never be able to.
Pascal is the finer posing physical specimen, yet woefully delicate with a distinct lack of stamina and pop. He’s 28-2-1, 17 KO for his career, yet never hurt much less knocked out a true world class contender in his five years at the top, 4-2-1, 1 KO overall in title fights. Somehow he managed to deck ol’man Bernard Hopkins twice early in their first fight before running around like a flapping headless chicken to let the uselessly flailing Hopkins back in the fight for a draw. Then he let the ol’timer whup him in the rematch that I will forever refuse to watch so as to save a modicum of respect for boxing.
So how much more disgrace can one fighter bear you might ask yourself?
Plenty more if Pascal plans on moving up to heavyweight as he made noises about, but such posing is what the French Canadians seem to be willing to pay for, so in that regard Pascal is a success. I wasn’t going to cover this fight because it will likely be so ugly as to defy polite descriptors, but since both were so popular in Montreal, there it is in a nutshell. Their suns are setting as they make one last run at a money fight.
Bute had a particularly shocking fall from grace when he was stopped after showing little punch resistance to big slugging Carl Froch as Bute did his best impersonation of a deer frozen in the headlights of a truck. He had been a long time Ring P4Per, an elite fighter scarcely needing to even break into a sweat from his compelling southpaw stance he was handling his competition so easily, but Carl Froch is cut from a different mold of the typical contender and former champions Bute had previously disposed. Bute had one good round where Froch absorbed the best he could throw, and then, poof, Bute folded and the damage was done, exacerbated by disgraceful British officiating as Froch and his promoter Hearns threw a party before the standing Bute had even taken a count by the referee.
I dare say a team of 8th graders could oversee a more respectable fight than the multitudes of n’er do wells running boxing these days, but 8th graders are legally frozen out of pro boxing.
Speaking of, I hear tell the curtains may be coming down on Montreal boxing, a shame if true. I’d surely think some youngsters must be in training to have a chance at such glory as has been fought for at the Bell Centre these past several years. Stevenson and the 25 year old David Lemieux look to have plenty more fights in them, so a stay of execution seems warranted for now.
Pascal and Bute are supposed to be dope tested by WADA whatever that means in the elusive world of ever changing testing parameters in the boxing and illicit drug testing cartel businesses. Bute should prevail against Pascal and could stage a title challenge at lightheavy this year, but he’s got to wrangle a decision from the forever fleeing Pascal, so who can say?
Maybe Pascal feels the pressure and makes a last stand for a classic encounter. There’s always hope in boxing land for a good fight, so let us hope for the sake of Montreal boxing they can break up this impacted ice flow.