Lucian Bute enters the ring at 31-1-1 (24). After turning pro in Montreal in 2003 (after moving from his native Romania), by 2007, he was 19-0 and knocking on the door of a world title shot. He defeated Sakio Bika in a world title eliminator in June of 2007 by 12-round unanimous decision. Four months later, he beat Alejandro Berrio by 11th round TKO to capture the IBF super middleweight title. Bute locked into his Montreal work station and successfully defended the title nine times over the next three-and-a-half years, building a huge following in his adopted hometown of Montreal. In his first fight of 2012, he travelled to Nottingham, England and lost his title to Carl Froch in by fifth round stoppage. Bute bounced back six months later with a win over Denis Grachev back in Montreal to set up the Pascal showdown.
Haitian-born/Montreal-raised Jean Pascal will report to work against Bute, sporting a 28-2-1 (17) ledger. The 31-year-old turned pro in 2005 and ran up an impressive 16-0 mark by the spring of 2007. In June of 2007, he beat Christian Cruz for the NABF super middleweight title and would defend it twice over his next three bouts leading to a bout with common Bute foe Froch in England. This would be Pascal’s first fight out of Quebec as well as his first defeat, losing a unanimous decision over 12 rounds in his bid for vacant WBC super middleweight title. After a comeback win four months later, Pascal beat Romanian-born, Montreal resident Adrian “The Shark” Diaconu to capture the WBC light heavyweight title in Montreal. He made three successful title defences over the next year beating Silvio Branco, Diaconu (in a rematch) and Chad Dawson. Next, Pascal barely held onto his title in a 12-round draw against veteran Bernard Hopkins. The ageless Hopkins returned to Quebec five months later for the rematch and this time, the cagey veteran took Pascal’s title in a 12 round unanimous decision win. While not suffering from overwork, Pascal has picked up two wins in the last two years and now plans to add a former world champion to his résumé in fellow Laval, Quebec resident Bute.
The two fighters were scheduled to meet previously but an injury to Bute delayed the fight. Now both fighters want to pick up the win that will lead them to another world title shot. In recent interviews, both fighters expressed confidence. Bute stated that Pascal “will not be able to keep up with the pace I set. It will be a one-way duel where I control the action,” while an always confident Pascal said, “It’s going to be [Bute’s] last fight and it’s good to cash in before his last fight because I might retire Lucian Bute.” In an arena usually roaring with an ice-hockey-mad crowd cheering on its beloved Montreal Canadiens, look for two light heavyweights to give the faithful in the sold-out hallowed hockey shrine something else to cheer about. Prediction: Bute by split decision in a close, tough fight.
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