Rick Reeno reports that the highly-anticipated rematch between IBF super middleweight titlist Lucian Bute and the relentless Librado Andrade will take place on November 28, most likely in Montreal, with HBO televising instead of Showtime.
This is one of those rematches that has to happen given the controversy around the first fight, and it's also one of those rematches that I think winds up being pretty predictable. Bute clearly outclassed Andrade in the first fight, until he ran out of gas late in the fight and got caught. Whatever you think of the count, I think most of us can agree that referee Marlon B. Wright handled the situation very poorly and lost control of the ring. Wright is the real reason the rematch is happening. I expect Bute to widely (not easily) outpoint Andrade.
It also seems curious that HBO is the network for the rematch, should that prove to be true. The timing is odd, but makes sense. With Showtime's super middleweight tournament, they all but control the 168-pound division, which in my view is legitimately the best in the sport. Bute has been a "Showtime fighter" for a while now, and HBO coming in and grabbing him could have ramifications. If Bute were to stay unbeaten at 168 through the entire time the tournament runs, the way to crown a legitimate world champion at the end of it all would be the winner against Bute, and HBO would probably have more money to make that happen than would Showtime. Kelly Pavlik's comments were annoying, but they weren't without truth
I'd also guess some of this stems from Bute and his team being unhappy with the lack of invite for the tournament, though Showtime has said he simply rejected an invitation. I'm also curious about that whole deal. Why would Showtime lie? They've got a great tournament even without him, and part of me wonders if Bute got the invitation, and he and his handlers decided it was a pipe dream and just went, "Thanks, but no thanks."
- If Vic Darchinyan chooses to vacate his IBF junior bantamweight title, there's talk that the belt could be up for grabs between mandatory challenger Simphiwe Nongqayi and Jorge Arce. That's fair enough. 115 is such an empty division that Arce is still top five-ish, and Nongqayi isn't an entirely unreasonable mandatory scaled against some of the other loads of crap we've seen come down the pipe and challenge for titles. Nongqayi beat Arce's brother, Francisco, in April to win the title shot. Jorge recently won the sanctioning body's international title with his stoppage of Fernando Lumacad.
- Ricky Hatton is in the hospital right now, but it doesn't sound like anything serious. Of course, since it's Ricky Hatton, it's big news that he probably has food poisoning. They say it's not swine flu.
- Ken Norton had a statue erected in his honor in his hometown of Jacksonville, Illinois. Congrats, Ken.
- Branson Wright of The Plain-Dealer wrote an article praising Kelly Pavlik for not taking part in the super middleweight tournament, as if he were invited for one thing, and as if he's some hotshot superstar about to make a ton of money for another thing. Ohio-based coverage of Pavlik is really weird; there's nothing else like it in American boxing. They're fanatical, support basically every single thing he says or does, and are in love with him in a way that reminds me of British coverage of their fighters. I'm not saying that's good or bad, I just find it interesting. And like the Brits (I say this with love, guys), they appear to be self-deluding over Pavlik in Ohio.
- Speaking of the Brits, here's a fine article on Amir Khan.
- Sebastian Sylvester and Giovanni Lorenzo will meet for the vacant IBF middleweight title on September 19 in Germany.