It certainly wasn't his best performance, but Lucian Bute got the job done tonight in Montreal, knocking Jesse Brinkley down three times en route to a ninth round stoppage.
Bute (27-0, 22 KO) put Brinkley down in the fifth round with a gorgeous body shot, then floored him in the eighth and finally once more in the ninth. Brinkley only survived the fifth round because he spit out his mouthpiece while on the ground, and beat the count. But if not for the time spent in the corner putting the mouthpiece back in and fixing the tape on his wrists, Bute probably would have finished off the Nevada native.
Brinkley (35-6, 22 KO) showed toughness, grit and heart, but in terms of class, he just wasn't near Bute's level. Bute had a big height advantage, had the home field advantage in Montreal, and when he really zeroed in, was at least two classes above the veteran and former "Contender" fighter. Brinkley definitely earned his paycheck tonight, though. He did come to win, but the battle was simply too uphill.
The talk now is that Bute will defend his IBF super middleweight title at a 166-pound catchweight next year against Kelly Pavlik. Pavlik fights Brian Vera on November 13 at Cowboys Stadium, in the main support slot of the Pacquiao-Margarito pay-per-view. Bute is a rotten style matchup for the very basic Pavlik, who struggled badly last time out against smaller southpaw Sergio Martinez. Martinez is quicker than Bute, but doesn't have near the Romanian's power, and Bute is very slick himself. If the fight does happen, Pavlik will come in a huge underdog.
Neither in terms of opponent or performance was this a huge feather in Bute's cap, but he got the job done and marches on. 2011 should bring him some much bigger opportunities. For now, he's a fighter who has really come into his own, and remains a must-watch every time he fights.
On the Undercard
- Adrian Diaconu UD-10 Omar Sheika. Sheika is an old 33, but did his best in this one. He even floored Diaconu in the second round, blasting him with a big right hand. Diaconu took a knee instead of taking further punishment and risking getting stopped, and after that controlled most of the fight pretty easily. Diaconu improves to 27-2 (15 KO), while Sheika falls to 30-10 (21 KO).
Benoit Gaudet KO-6 Ceferino Labarda. Labarda was awful in this one, as he was against Billy Dib and Steve Molitor. Easy fight for Gaudet, but the knockout left hook in the sixth round is worth YouTubing if it turns up. Huge punch. Gaudet is now 23-2 (10 KO), while Labarda is 19-3 (7 KO).
- Jo Jo Dan KO-4 Andres Villafane. Villafane had no business in the ring with Dan, who knocked out Villafane on a glancing blow that seemed to hit mostly arm in the fourth round. Dan (27-1, 15 KO) might find himself in line for a title shot in 2011, given how the welterweight division works.