Lucian Bute is still the IBF super middleweight champ thanks to a favorable long count in his hometown of Montreal.
For 35 and a half minutes on Friday night, Bute put on a show in front of his home crowd at the Bell Centre in Montreal. In his 2nd IBF super middleweight title defense, the Romanian-born southpaw dominated his dangerous opponent, Librado Andrade. He frustrated the hard-throwing Mexican with crisp combinations and swift movement.
However, the final thirty seconds of the 12th and final round will not be forgotten by any that witnessed them for quite some time. Andrade, who tirelessly pursued Bute all night with little to show for it, finally broke through in the final frame. He was able to measure the rangy champ after 11 rounds of mostly futile pursuit. Bute’s legs lost their bounce and suddenly he found himself exchanging in the middle of the ring with the more powerful challenger, while his 33 masterful minutes seemed to be going down the drain.
This resulted in Bute, winner of arguably 10 of the first 11 rounds, being out on his feet with 30 seconds remaining in the bout. Bute held on for dear life while Andrade, acutely aware that he needed a kayo for a victory, furiously tried to finish off the champ. Despite some questionable meddling from referee Marlon B. Wright, Andrade put Bute down in the corner with 5 seconds remaining. Bute, meanwhile, could not be saved by the bell in this bout.
What ensued was a long count to put all others to shame. The Showtime crew counted it out at 24 seconds. Wright, a Montreal resident like Bute, wasted time ordering Andrade to a neutral corner that he was reportedly near the entire time.
Needless to say, Bute beat the 24-second count and retained his belt, nearly stoking an ugly scene before cooler heads prevailed. It was unclear if Bute needed the long count, but according to Wright, “Andrade cost himself the fight by leaving the corner. Bute would not have gotten up in time if he stayed in the corner.”
Surely this was not the sort of title defense that Bute, eyeing a possible matchup with Mikkel Kessler, had in mind. The defense improved Bute to 23-0 (18 KO), and he has now won 10 straight bouts at the Bell Centre. Friday’s display might lead one to believe that he’s got the best home court advantage in sports since the days of Red Auerbach’s thermostat hijinx at the old Boston Garden.
Andrade, meanwhile, falls to 27-2 (21 KO), with his only other loss coming to the aforementioned Kessler, the great Dane. To my eyes, Bute won 10 of the 12 rounds, but the final scoring was 117-109, 115-110, and 115-111 in favor of Bute, who outlanded Andrade by a significant margin, but never hurt him. When Andrade got tangled up with Bute’s foot in the 10th round, however, Wright ruled a knockdown. It was just the 2nd time in Andrade’s career that he has been ruled knocked down.
As the pugilists take the ring in the first round Showtime color man Steve Farhood comments that the packed Bell Centre crowd was among the loudest he had heard in his 30 years covering the sport. It is immediately evident that Bute’s handspeed and footwork have Andrade outclassed. Bute lands many solid combinations, while Andrade is unable to settle in against the quicker southpaw.
In the second round Bute finds less success, but lands several big straight left hands. Andrade attempts several bull rushes, but is unable to pin Bute down in a corner.
The third round sees Andrade land his most impressive shot early, but ten immediately get warned for an elbow. Bute rebounds by moving on the balls of feet and popping crisp combos from the outside, as his speed wins another round.
Round four sees the best exchanges of the bout to that point. Bute snaps back Andrade’s head, who storms back with an attack to the body.
The tide looked like it might turn in the fifth. Andrade, stalking Bute with a twisted purpose and determination, finally gets inside and punishes Bute, who seems tired from his early activity and movement. Bute is dropping his gloves and paying a price. He recovers and storms back at Andrade, but by this point in the fight it’s clear that Bute can’t hurt Andrade, who takes the round.
As the fighters return for the 6th round, a welt is beginning to form under Bute’s right eye – the result of a punishing 5th round. Battered, but resolute, Bute reasserts control of the bout in the 6th and regains some bounce in his legs.
The 7th round was more of the same. Andrade relentlessly, but unsuccessfully stalks Bute. Highlight of the round is an impressive closing flurry from Bute. The precision is impressive, but Andrade is not bothered. He is only emboldened by the knowledge that he can eat his opponents best shots, a la Margarito against Cotto.
Bute dominates the action once again in the 8th, but he begins showing some signs of fatigue. He’s probably dealing more than he wants to, but Andrade’s right in front of him all night.
The 9th sees Andrade landing a little more frequently, but the volume of the punching is still dominated by Bute.
Bute assaults Andrade with combinations early in the 10th that has the Mexican warrior bleeding from the nose. Andrade goes down after a left hook, but it’s clear it was a slip and the knockdown ruled by Wright (a man who showed an impressive knack for being wrong). Bute seems to smell blood and becomes hyper-aggressive for much of the remainder of the round.
In the 11th, Bute remains aggressive, perhaps trying to finish Andrade off.
By the 12th round, it’s apparent that Bute has punched himself out. Andrade dominates an exhausted Bute in winning the fight, but losing the bout.
What do you say TSSers: was the count fair? Would Bute have beaten a legitimate 10-count?
And should Bute give Andrade a rematch?
SPEEDBAG: Andrade was classy in addressing Bute after the bout. He could be heard telling the champ, “You are beautiful, man. You are my brother. You are my friend.” However, this did not prevent Andrade from telling Farhood that he felt cheated and feels he should be the champ…On the televised undercard, Ronald Hearns defeated Paul Clavette with a 6th-round stoppage in a junior middleweight bout. Hearns, the son of the Hitman, improves to 21-0 with 17 KO and is moving towards a future date with Irish John Duddy.