The belief is that when friends fight, often times they lack the passion to fight with bad intentions. Whether or not that was the case tonight with Lucian Bute and Glen Johnson is up for debate, but what's not up for debate is that Bute's relatively easy, near-shutout unanimous decision victory lacked fire on both sides for much of the fight.
Bute (30-0, 24 KO) cruised to victory via scores of 120-108, 120-108, and 119-109. Bad Left Hook was slightly nicer to the 42-year-old Johnson (51-16-2, 35 KO), scoring it 118-110 for Bute.
It was clear by the third round of the ho-hum main event that Johnson either couldn't or wouldn't do what seemed on paper to be his best strategy: Getting inside and making Bute uncomfortable. Not once in the fight did Johnson, known for his ability to smother superior athletic specimens, really work to get close to Bute, to bang him up on the inside, to consistently work the body, or even throw his signature overhand right.
Very little, in fact, came from Johnson that was of any true significance.
Maybe he got old. Maybe Bute was just that good (and make no mistake, Bute was far too good tonight). Or maybe Johnson just didn't have the spirit, mentally and/or physically, to make this the type of fight where he normally excels.
For Bute, it's a good win but will be criticized, through no real fault of his own. Early on, Bute treated Johnson with appropriate respect and was tentative. As the fight wore on, the Romanian star took more risks, and whacked Johnson around a fair bit here and there.
The best moments of the fight were all Bute's. In a way, he dominated the bout. But he didn't thrill many, though he did get the rise out of the Quebec crowd that his offensive bursts always do. And he did hurt Johnson a few times.
The plan is now for Bute to face the Super Six winner, in theory, or perhaps Mikkel Kessler. With one fight left on his Showtime contract, obviously the network would likely prefer he face the winner of their long, drawn-out tournament, which concludes on December 17 when Andre Ward faces Carl Froch in Atlantic City.
As for Glen Johnson, I didn't see it, but apparently he claimed after the fight that he deserved the win. Know for certain that if you didn't see the fight, Johnson deserved no better scores than he got. "The Road Warrior" has a hard luck past, but this didn't add to those violin tales.