Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bute is Beautiful with Fourth Round Knockout

QUEBEC CITY - In an absolutely stunning performance, IBF super middleweight titlist Lucian Bute retained his title with a fourth-round knockout over challenger Librado Andrade here tonight in front of a standing room only crowd of 16,473 at the Colisee Pepsi.

The end came suddenly with a sharp left hook to Andrade's body. It was a shot that the aggressive Andrade never saw coming and he was felled immediately by the punch. It was the second knockdown of the round suffered by the challenger as he was also decked by a left hook to the jaw only moments earlier.

Referee Benji Esteves, Jr. counted out Andrade at 2:57 of the round and a pro-Bute crowd came to their feet and erupted into a roar of open-mouthed glee.

It was a dramatic reversal from their first fight that took place at Montreal's Bell Centre 13 months ago. In that fight, Bute also boxed smartly, but he was nearly knocked out in the waning seconds of the twelfth and final round.

“Everything went my way and it was my night,” said a joyous Bute after the knockout. “I planned for this and I was confident from the sound of the first bell.”

Bute, who upped his undefeated record to 25-0, 20 KOs boxed adroitly from the very beginning. He used crisp right jabs, sneaky hand speed and adept foot movement to keep Andrade on the defensive. Bute let his hands go at every turn and that was the difference as he repeatedly stung the ever advancing challenger before he had a chance to get his punches off.

Bute was a champion firing on all cylinders and everything he tried worked. To say that he was “in the zone” would be the most accurate assessment of his performance here.

There was no comparison between the way the champion looked tonight and the way he fought their first fight last October. Bute won that fight as well, but it was a struggle. Andrade had his moments and he was able to land heavy shots along the way.

Because of the questions that surrounded that fight, a rematch was set-up between he and Andrade in an effort to settle any doubt about who was the better man. All doubt was settled tonight.

Lucian Bute (right) never allowed Andrade into the fight. He completely dismantled his foe in the rematch.

“I haven't felt this good in two years,” said an ebullient Bute. “This was the real Lucian Bute you saw here tonight.”

Andrade, who drops to 28-3, 21 KOs with the loss was extremely disappointed. This was his third shot at a major world title and this was the third time he has come up empty-handed. He was a dejected loser at the post-fight press conference.

“Congratulations, you got me,” said Andrade to Bute regarding the shot that knocked him out. “I never saw it coming. I just want to become a world champion, that's my dream. I used to work at a Jack in the Box and every morning I'd say, 'Welcome to Jack in the Box.' I never thought I would get this far in boxing.”

Then Andrade broke down in tears.

Bute's star continues to shoot across the galaxy here in Quebec. He is undefeated and his popularity will only rise with the victory. He was featured on the front pages of the daily newspapers today here in this French-speaking Canadian province and everyone from waiters in restaurants to disc-jockeys on the radio stations were talking about him.

“I've been working on my left hook for the past two months in the gym,” said Bute at the post fight press conference. “I've been thinking about Librado Andrade for a whole year. I thank him for making me a better boxer.”

Bute, who is as soft-spoken as they come, also thanked Andrade for bringing out the best in him and for becoming his friend.

Librado Andrade is a great person,” he said. “He's a great fighter and he will stay my friend for life.”

If that's how Bute treats his friends – I'd hate to see how he treats his enemies.

Andrade was crippled by a left to the body. He never saw the shot coming and was unable to beat the count of the referee.

The televised opener on the HBO Boxing After Dark card was a spirited fight for the vacant IBF 135-pound title.

Joan “Little Tyson” Guzman, 134 ½, 29-0, 17 KOs, from Santo Domingo the Dominican Republic, went head-to-head against East London, South Africa's Ali Funeka, 134, 30-2-2, 25 KOs.

In an evenly matched fight, Guzman got off to a nice start by winning the first two rounds on my unofficial scorecard. Guzman began the fight very quickly and managed to land some very nice right hands to the head and body. He was really living up to his nickname of “Little Tyson” as he had bad intentions on every shot.

Fighting out of Brooklyn, New York, Guzman showed glimpses of what made him a sensation a few years back as he mixed in heavy punches with speed and quickness.

But after the first two rounds, Funeka began finding his range. In the third, the South African got his jab working and he fought at a more measured pace. He reminded some here in press row of a young Bernard Hopkins as he moved forward behind textbook left jabs and straight right hands. Guzman began bleeding from the nose in the third round and the flow of blood was never able to be stemmed as the bout wore on.

Guzman continued to bleed heavily from the nose as the fourth round began. Sensing the fight was moving out of his hands, he became more aggressive and threw heavier punches. But Funeka did especially well as he landed right hands over Guzman's low left. It was a round that saw Guzman cut badly above the right eye from an unintentional clash of heads.

Ali Funeka (left) and Joan Guzman engaged in spirited 12-rounds. The fight was deemed a draw but Funeka deserved the decision and the title.

The doctor was called in to have a look at the cut at the beginning of the fifth round and after a quick gander he let Guzman continue on. Guzman's corner did a nice job of stemming the blood from the cut, but it was a round that saw Funeka really begin to unload with the jabs and right hands. Guzman's face was a mask of blood in the round as his nose and eye bled heavily There was a beautiful right-left by Funeka near the end of the round which cemented him as the winner.

As the bout wore on, it was mostly Funeka who landed the more effective punches and worked forward behind a potent offense. Guzman often backed to the ropes and he was raked by Funeka's left hooks and right hands. Guzman struggled to see Funeka's punches coming from behind a mask of blood. As the rounds progressed, Guzman's trunks and gloves were soaked in crimson.

On my unofficial scorecard, Funeka rallied in the late rounds and he swept rounds eight through twelve. I tabbed him the winner at 116-112. The small contingent of writers in press row was unanimous in the thought that Funeka had done enough to win.

However, in a dubious decision, Funeka was stymied by the three official judges. They scored the bout 114-114, 116-112 for Funeka and 114-114, which resulted in a majority draw. The IBF lightweight title remains vacant. Both fighters are calling for a rematch and one will likely be immediately ordered.

Funeka's team was very disappointed with the result as it is the second fight in a row and the second title shot in a row that he has just missed out on.

November 2009