Lucian Bute's head and heart just weren't fully in the main event at the Bell Centre on Saturday, and Jean Pascal took full advantage. Pascal's right hand was all he needed, really, as a compromised Bute watched, feinted, waited and was unable to pull the trigger, for fear of getting touched. He showed a flash, in round 12, finally waking up, but couldn't prevent a reading of the cards. The arbiters scored it 116-112, 117-110, 117-111, for Pascal, against a thoroughly tentative Bute, who perhaps is haunted by the ghost of Carl Froch too much to be able to work these big stages.
Pascal went 187-438 to 150-411 for Bute in an anticipated superfight for Canadian bragging rights which underperformed, because Bute has lost too much from what he used to possess.
After, to Max Kellerman, Pascal said he proved he was the best, after chasing Bute for many moons. He thanked Roy Jones for working his corner, and called him the pound for pound best, all-time. He was asked about the 12th, and said he was all about the rematch, to curry interest in a sequel, and implied he let Bute land for that reason. He said he will take a vacay, and then "I don't care who's next." What about Adonis Stevenson? He said he's a champ, and proud of him, but didn't say whether he'd fight him.
Max then asked Bute how he was feeling. The loser, who heard some boos, said he was disappointed. He said he planned well but couldn't perform. Why didn't he flip the switch and get fiery before round 12? That was the real Bute, he said. Would he want a rematch? Yes, he said, he knows he could land more next time.
Bute (33; 173 1/2 pounds; lives in Quebec) was born in Romania, while Pascal (31; 175 pounds; lives in Quebec) was born in Haiti.
The ex 168 pound champ, who was graced with a lot of kind matchmaking for most of his career, entered with a 31-1 mark. That lone loss seems to have left an oversized mark, as Carl Froch seemingly took a bit of his heart and soul from him. Pascal, who held a 175 pound strap, and went 0-1-1 against Bernard Hopkins, was 28-2-1 coming in.
In the first, there was lot of feints, with both men being cautious. Marc Ramsay, Pascal's trainer, asked for right hands. Bute's trainer, Stephan Larouche, asked for jabs, and to use his height. Also, he wanted left hooks to the body. In the second, a left counter scored for Bute and the crowd liked it. Pascal flurried though and shook him up, with 45 seconds left. A right landed clean and hard. Larouche wanted jabs downstairs, he said after the round.
In the third, an uppercut and a left for Bute buzzed the crowd but he wasn't in a discernible rhythm yet. Pascal had a hand speed edge, clearly. In the fourth, a quick right from Pascal scored early. Roy Jones yelled for Pascal to counter a left to the body. He had Bute on the ropes, which got all nervous, as people flashed back to the Froch demo job.
In the fifth, Pascal dialed back on the output. Bute was holding late in the round, while Pascal whacked with a free hand. In the sixth, Pascal whacked to the body, hard and fast. Bute just couldn't get dialed in on the herky jerky righty. In the seventh, Pascal continued to build on his momentum. He was sitting down in his shots much better than the Romanian. In round eight, the right hand worked for Pascal, as Bute's left eye looked more swollen. Bute went down, but it was ruled a slip. Also, Pascal landed behind the head, something he'd done repeatedly.
In the ninth, Bute watched, feinted, waited and kept on looking lost. Pascal's right was all he needed to win the rounds. In the tenth, a butt bothered Bute. His corner had asked him how much he wanted it and tried to light a fire under him, telling him that 20,000 were here watching. Bute came forward in this round, and had some success. In the 11th, Bute had the crowd buzzing, as a fight broke out. In the 12th, Bute threw 40 punches and then Pascal took a turn. The 12th round was fun one to watch. But he couldn't drop or stop Pascal and we went to the cards.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV