The Super Bowl of Canadian Boxing

By Teron Briggs on January 17, 2014
The Super Bowl of Canadian Boxing
The positives in Saturday's fight are abundantly clear and they start with the two fighters.

HBO’s inaugural broadcast of 2014 is between Jean Pascal and Lucian Bute at the Bell Centre in Montreal, the biggest bout in Canadian history …

Cue the trumpets and horns; signal the ring card girls, “Fan Man,” Michael Buffer, Mario Lopez, some rapper shouting lyrics at the top of his lungs over a ridiculously lout beat and The Watson Twins. The first official big fight of the year is upon us and it’s only significance isn’t that it’s the HBO inaugural broadcast of 2014. Saturday night’s fight, at what is expected to be a sold out Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada, possesses all of the tangible and intangible prerequisites needed for what we deem to be a major event. Two hometown legends square off in what is being called the biggest bout in Canadian boxing history when former Ring and WBC light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal (28-2-1, 17 KOs) meets former IBF super middleweight titleholder Lucian Bute (31-1-0, 24 KOs) in a scheduled 12-round bout.

Acknowledging that both of these fighters are no longer in their primes, and that this fight is probably two years past it’s ideal date, is one of the few negatives you can attach to it. It certainly isn’t a perfect fight, but as Pascal so eloquently stated, “it is the Canadian Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, it’s our Super Bowl.” The positives in this fight are abundant and they start with the fighters.

Pascal, who relocated from his native Haiti to Montreal at age four, has the look and temperament you would expect a world champion to have. He has a chiseled physique that could match King Leonidas in 300 and a personality and ego as large as Chris Christie. His athletic background, he played both hockey and soccer until he discovered boxing in his early teens, have clearly helped him with his fluid footwork and coordination inside the ring. He’s arguably most known for being the man that then 46-year-old ring legend Bernard Hopkins beat in 2011 to become the oldest fighter to ever win a world title. It was the second straight time the two had fought, with Pascal escaping their first bout with a draw in a disputed decision that saw Hopkins knocked down twice, and for the first time in his career since World War II (the actual first time was against Segundo Mercado in 1994). The public anticipation for this bout was so strong that 15,000 tickets were sold in the first 48 hours they were available.

Pascal was developed into a huge draw at super middleweight in Montreal by fighting there often with devastating results as he built an undefeated record before losing a unanimous decision to current titleholder Carl Froch in the latter’s hometown in 2008. Pascal then reeled off five straight wins, including two over previously undefeated top fighters Adrien Diacanou and then-WBO titleholder Chad Dawson. Prior to the first fight with Hopkins he was almost universally considered to be the man to beat at light heavyweight. Pascal has since recorded two wins over pedestrian fighters to gain some of his confidence back but it’s not out of line to wonder if despite being only 31 years old if his best days are behind him. Chronic shoulder injuries have derailed his once promising career sidelining him from the ring for as long as 19 months. In his fight with Aleksy Kuziemski in December 2012 he badly injured the shoulder and was reduced to fighting like the villain in the Fugitive movie, with one arm. His biggest obstacle in this bout might not be his opponent Bute, but his own body, which has clearly shown signs of deterioration.

Pascal’s huge adoring crowds have made him a star north of the border, but according to Lucian Bute remains the “fan favorite.” The 33-year-old Romanian born Canadian resident has filled his share of arenas during his time at the top of the sport. The technically skilled southpaw who’s spent his entire career at super middleweight makes his debut at light heavyweight and returns to the ring for the first time in 14 months following a hand injury that postponed this bout originally scheduled for May of last year. Bute, who seems to smile only when prodded, possesses the looks of a European soap opera actor and was at one time an HBO darling destined for possible superstardom. Though most of the fighters he defeated on his surge up the rankings were past their prime, or questionable opposition, he defeated them with the kind of style and flare he rarely displayed outside the ring. His five-year reign as the IBF titleholder came to an abrupt and violent end when Carl Froch slaughtered him over five rounds in May of 2012 before his corner stopped the bout. Bute didn’t just suffer the first loss of his career; he was humbled and in his own words “totally dominated.” Though he and Froch had negotiated a two-fight deal, Bute declined to rematch him right away citing the need to take an interim bout to get his career back on track. He returned to the ring to defeat Denis Grachev over 12 unimpressive rounds that left many wondering if Froch had exposed Bute as well as shattered his psyche. The question of whether he can ever return to the elite is one that won’t be answered until he steps into the ring against Pascal.

Over the last ten years thanks to guys like Pascal, Bute, Adonis Stevenson, Sebastien Demers and Joachim Alcine, Montreal has become the third most popular boxing host city in North America, after only Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Ask anyone who’s attended or watched a fight in the city and they will tell you the electric atmosphere at these events is second to none. We’ve got a sold out arena with rabid fans and two world-class fighters involved, all we need to set the stage for an epic showdown is some bad blood. 

Enter Pascal, who has played the role of the instigator and whose taunts haven’t fallen on deaf ears. “It’s been almost six years that he’s been talking negatively about me. He’s repeatedly said that I was afraid to face him and that by avoiding him I do not respect the fans. The time has come to shut him up,” Bute told reporters from his training camp in Florida. Pascal, alluding to Bute’s previous pullout, expressed confidence that this fight will go through. “I really think the fight is going to happen, because if he pulls out again he’s gonna lose credibility. He has two million good reasons (each man is pocketing $2 million for the bout) to make the fight happen. It will be a good paycheck for him. Plus, it’s going to be his last fight and it’s good to cash in before his last fight, because I might retire him” Pascal told Chris Robinson of that he still believes he is the marquee fighter at light heavyweight, insisting he’s the “cash cow” who “generates the most money in the division.” A competitive loss wouldn’t end either man’s ability to remain a viable ticket seller and the winner would set himself up for an even more lucrative and high profile showdown with current WBC light heavyweight king Adonis “Superman” Stevenson. Apparently, there isn’t only one Super Bowl.

Follow Teron Briggs on Twitter @TeronBriggs

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WCB 1/18/14: Pascal vs. Bute (HBO Boxing)


Lucian Bute vs Jean Pascal Promotional Video

Bute vs Pascal promo 2 Jean Pascal Video ( Way Productions )

Bute vs Pascal Promo 1 Lucian Bute Video ( Way Productions )

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  1. Darrell 09:53pm, 01/18/2014

    What an infuriating fighter Jean Pascal is…..for mine he beat Bute quite easily but I thought he could’ve, should’ve ended the fight around the late rounds.  Those last two rounds were ridiculous by Pascal, with unfavourable judges/judging he could’ve lost that fight…..& if he did he would’ve deserved too.  Such a tremendous but unfulfilled athletic talent….to what he could be.

  2. Ted 12:03pm, 01/18/2014

    Let’s get it on. I’m ready. I have my chips and Molson. Let’s do it and let’s get him out of there Lucian.

  3. Ted 12:32pm, 01/17/2014

    Not since the Hiltons were doing their thing has Montreal been so buzzed with boxing. Man I wish I could be there just for the color and pageantry.

    Going against the grain, I smell an upset here with Bute winning by early KO. I sense an uppercut landing as Pascal lunges in and KABOOOM!

  4. Clarence George 06:54am, 01/17/2014

    Excellent preview, though I can’t say the fight interests me much.  Pascal is superior to Bute (and I expect him to win by unanimous decision), but neither is more than above average and both are past whatever primes they may have had.  In any event, neither (especially not Bute) would have the slightest chance against Adonis Stevenson.

    Pascal’s bout with Aleksy Kuziemski was something else.  As the commentator observed, “It’s not complicated.”  Indeed it wasn’t.  Pascal’s left arm was useless, so all Kuziemski had to do was move to Pascal’s left and throw rights.  He opted instead (for reasons known to himself) to stand in front of Pascal and toss out an occasional languid love tap.  A terrible ring performance, however unintentionally amusing.

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