There has been much speculation as to why IBF super middleweight champion Lucian Bute is not participating in Showtime’s ongoing Super Six World Boxing Classic. A native of Romania who fights out of Montreal, Canada, the 29-year-old Bute, 24-0 (19 KOS) would have matched up well against all of the contestants, especially fellow Europeans Mikkel Kessler, Carl Froch and Arthur Abraham.
Some people believe that the southpaw Bute, who regularly sells out the Bell Centre in his adopted hometown, opted out of the tournament in order to avoid the toughest available competition while still
garnering huge paydays in Canada.
If that is true, one has to wonder why Bute would have agreed to a rematch against Librado Andrade, 28-2 (21 KOS), a tough-as-nails Californian of Mexican descent whose only two losses were by decision
to Kessler and Bute.
The two will square off in their eagerly anticipated encore on Saturday, November 28, at the Pepsi Coliseum in Quebec City, Canada. The fight will be televised on HBO’s Boxing After Dark.
Andrade’s October 2008 loss to Bute should come with an asterisk. For most of the fight the 6’2” Bute looked masterful in outboxing Andrade. However, the never-say-die Andrade came to life midway through the
eleventh, when he began battering the champion all around the ring.
When Bute hit the canvas in the twelfth and final round, referee Marlon Wright, a Montreal resident who compiled a 10-1 (3 KOS) record while fighting professionally as a welterweight from 1983 to 1985,
stopped the action so he could order Andrade back to his neutral
Because Andrade was too excited to immediately comply, 24 seconds had elapsed before the fighting could be resumed. By this time the final bell had already rung. Because the rules clearly stated that neither
fighter could be saved by the bell, Wright’s actions all but guaranteed Bute the victory.
Cynics blamed Wright for his perceived ineptitude. Others questioned his integrity. While both of these issues are arguable, what is not subject to conjecture is how the controversy has tainted what looked
for such a long time like a surefire Bute victory that he could have been proud of.
Steve Farhood was initially critical of Wright on the air, but has since amended his negative comments. Now that he’s reviewed all that had transpired, he says it doesn’t appear that his actions cost Bute
the fight because the defending champion had actually beat the initial count.
“He (Bute) was on his feet when Wright reached eight,” said Farhood. “The bell would have rung and because he was standing Bute would have retained the title regardless of where Andrade was positioned.”
If one was to follow the letter of the law, Farhood believes that Wright’s actions were appropriate. However, he said that the reality of the situation dictated that a more practical solution might have
“The call you make in the third quarter of a basketball game is not necessarily the same one you’d make in the last two seconds of a game,” said Farhood. “The point of the (neutral corner) rule is to
prevent the fighter who scored a knockout from attacking the fallen opponent too quickly. Regardless of where Andrade was in the ring, he would not have landed another punch because the final bell would have
What was lost in the hoopla is the fact that Bute performed beautifully for all but the last 90 seconds of the bout. His superior boxing skills precluded the always aggressive Andrade from mounting
any meaningful offense.
“He (Bute) was out on his feet from the midway point of the final round,” explained Farhood. “He almost fell a few times without even getting hit. The referee would have been within his rights to stop the
fight before the knockout even happened. But if you can put the controversy aside, Bute showed incredible heart.”
Because there was such a palpable excitement in the arena that night, many of the fans in attendance did not even realize how controversial an ending the fight had. They just appeared thrilled and relieved that
their hero had the emotional resolve and physical strength to finish the fight on his feet and ensure his victory. The very congenial Bute also believes that he did more than enough to win.
Shortly after the bout, Bute said he was not aware of any controversy. He added that if Andrade had left his corner, he believes that the referee had an obligation to follow the rules. “That is not for me to
judge,” he told Farhood.
Andrade, who is as much of a gentleman as Bute, was adamant in his assertions that he deserved to win but, to his credit, never got nasty about it.
“I had a job to do, and I did it,” he said. “I knocked him out.”
Stephan Larouche, the director of operations for Interbox, which promotes Bute, said that the rematch would be big even if not for the dramatic final seconds of the first fight. He insists that Bute’s
popularity rivals that of the Montreal Canadiens hockey team, and that it is Interbox’s intention to make the fighter as big of a star in Canada as Ricky Hatton is in England.
In order to do that it was important to get Bute and Andrade back together in the ring, sooner rather than later so they could settle matters once and for all.
In March 2009, Bute successfully returned to the Bell Centre where he stopped Fulgencio Zuniga in the fourth round to defend his title for the third time. One month later, Andrade laced up in the same venue,
winning a unanimous 12 round decision over Vitali Tsypko.
Big crowds, which Farhood has described as among the most “electric” that he’s experienced during his 30 years in boxing, turned out for both shows.
Bute is refreshingly candid in praising Andrade’s ruggedness, while also stating emphatically how important it is for him to win more convincingly the second time around.
“We need to settle this,” he said. “I need to do this, and he also deserves it. This time we can’t leave any question about who won.”
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV