January 16th, 2014 By John Signorella
HBO GOES NORTH TO KICK OFF 2014 BOXING SEASON
New York, NY- “Mainstream” boxing (finally!) surfaces for the first time in 2014 this weekend and offers an intriguing battle pitting two former champions in a “crossroads” type clash for bragging rights in Canada and an eventual possible crack at a major title down the road. This Saturday night: former light heavyweight (175) champ Jean Pascal (27-2, 1 17 KOs) meets former super middleweight (168) strap carrier Lucian Bute (31-1, 24 KOs) in a slated 12 or less rounds of pound at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada on HBO at 10:15 PM ET.
PASCAL SEEKING WORLD RECOGNITION
Facing durable opposition, Pascal was unbeaten in 21 previous contests before lacing up the gloves with current IBF & WBA super middleweight (168) belt holder Carl Froch. In that affair; Froch handed Jean his first defeat (L UD 12). After the setback to Froch, Pascal regrouped, moved up a class in weight, and in a stellar performance against then unbeaten champion Adrian Diaconu, Pascal captured the light heavyweight crown (W UD 12). After picking up the WBC strap, Jean thrice defended his title. In his first defense, Pascal blasted out Silvio Branco (W TKO 10), then out pointed Adrian Diaconu in their rematch (W UD 12) and in his third title defense; managed to earn a technical decision victory over then undefeated former IBF champion Chad Dawson (W TD 11). Seeking bigger paydays and more notoriety
, Jean then called out ring legend Bernard Hopkins. In a highly entertaining affair of youth versus experience, Pascal enjoyed success early and became one of the select few fighters to drop Hopkins to the canvas. However as the fight pressed on, Pascal became seemingly winded and appeared in the eyes of most experts to have been bested by Bernard down the stretch. Despite such belief, Jean was able to retain his belts via draw verdict, hence: a rematch was inevitable. In the sequel to their first tiff; the “ageless wonder” Hopkins easily outpointed an extremely lackluster version of Pascal in an uneventful affair ( W UD 12). In wake of Jean’s setback to Bernard; Jean has only fought twice in two years and has quietly picked up two wins against fridge opposition.
BAPTISM UNDER FIRE & A CLAIM TO FAME: A CLOSER LOOK AT BUTE
In an all action affair, Lucian Bute burst on the scene against tough pug Librado Andrade. Going into the 12th round and trailing on all three judges’ scorecards, a desperate Andrade fired a barrage of punches on a tiring Bute. The plethora of shots sent Lucian reeling as Librado continued to stalk and throw. Andrade eventually nailed the broken down Bute with a devastating blow dropping him to the canvas with less than five seconds remaining in the bout. The referee administered a count in which he had to stop at the count of seven to warn Librado for prematurely coming out of his assigned corner. Because of the extended lapse in time; Lucian was able to get up and finish the fight on his feet. Had it not been for the referee’s “long count”, most ringside observers felt Andrade would have been awarded a knockout win. Postmortem: because of much debate and speculation as to what should have been the result at the end of their first bout Bute and Andrade would meet again. This time the result was a much clearer verdict as Lucian ruled out any doubt by finishing Librado within just four rounds compliments of a monstrous body shot (W KO 4). In the aftermath; Bute compiled a series of smashing victories in front of his adoring fans in his adopted country of Canada against formidable opposition facing the likes of Edison Miranda (W TKO 3), Jean Paul Mendy (W KO 4), and Glen Johnson (W UD12). After such bravado, Romanian born Lucian Bute was looking to continue his success and agreed to face rugged scrapper Carl Froch. In an embarrassing effort, Bute didn’t turn in the spectacular performance that could have garnered him greater international appeal, instead he was easily man handled by Froch and was stopped via fifth round TKO. Since, Bute has only fought once, however he has managed to capture a win in a listless performance against a vapid pug in Denis Grachev (W UD 12).
Gonna be a fun fight! Based on the fact that both guys reside in Canada will make for a ruckus environment. Aside from the “hype”, these dudes are in a very desperate “must win situation” which usually commands a fighter’s hunger to strive and succeed. Even though both fighters have only combined for a total of three fights in the past two years, I think the layoff will help both and enable each combatant to “warm to the task” of the significance of this bout. From a strategical stand point: I like Bute to win on points in a very entertaining battle based on the fact that I believe he is the better boxer.