This Saturday in Romania, super middleweight titleholder Lucian Bute will fight Jean Paul Mendy in a fight that only those who will be attending are truly anticipating.
That's because Bute (28-0, 23 KO) and Mendy (29-0-1, 16 KO) are at vastly different levels of talent and standing, despite their similar records. Mendy, 37, has made a career out of almost being noticed, but never quite becoming a serious contender. Back in 2006-07, Mendy was part of Don King and Showtime's first attempt at a super middleweight tournament, which didn't go over quite like the 2009-present Super Six World Boxing Classic. It featured lesser fighters and just didn't attract much attention, and the finals of the tournament saw Mendy draw Anthony Hanshaw over 12 rounds. After that, none of the tournament's participants went on to do a whole lot.
Mendy has gone 6-0 since that tournament, but none of the wins are of much quality. The Frenchman has split his time evenly between his home country and the U.S., beating five mediocre foes before a matchup last year with the dangerous, legit contender Sakio Bika. Here's the result of that fight:
Bika, clearly in control of the fight, just took an extra swing and hit Mendy while he was on his knees. It happens. Fighters are trained to fight until someone makes them stop, and frankly I didn't really agree with the DQ call that Joe Cortez made, even though it was certainly defensible and within the rules to make that call. I just didn't think it was an intentional foul.
And that fight, my friends, is the reason that Mendy is fighting Lucian Bute. The IBF had, for whatever reason, sanctioned that fight as an eliminator bout, back on July 31, 2010, and Mendy took his 78-second DQ victory and sat on it for a year, waiting for his chance to fight Bute. He now has that chance, but he really has no chance.
Bute, 31, is hopefully going to step up after this. While the super middleweight division has gotten hot thanks to the Super Six, Bute has been on the outside looking in, an obvious talent and a fun fighter to watch, regarded by some as the best in the world at 168, regarded by most as no worse than the second-best.
But his level of opposition has been questioned, and rightfully so. Since a controversial and debated 2008 decision win over Librado Andrade where many felt Bute would have been knocked out if not for referee Marlon Wright, Bute has stopped Fulgencio Zuniga, Andrade in a rematch, Edison Miranda, Jesse Brinkley and Brian Magee. Now, with Mendy, he's taken what many feel is a fight that once again features an opponent at least a class below him in terms of talent, though to be fair it's IBF-mandated and Bute kind of has to do it if he wants to keep his belt, which clearly he does.
There is talk of the Romanian-born Quebec star fighting former middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik in November should he win this Saturday, and should Pavlik survive an August 6 tune-up. Though Pavlik is a question mark in the ring right now, he is certainly a more noteworthy name, and a good Kelly Pavlik, with his "southpaw killer" straight right, could be a serious challenge for Bute. At least that's a "could be," instead of what we have with Mendy or some of the others.
Bute vs Mendy will not be televised in the United States, but last I knew Showtime was going to have highlights of the fight during the Rios vs Antillon card on Saturday night.
Bute is the big favorite and it's not just because he's more well-known, younger, stronger, and a better boxer...OK, that's all exactly why. There's nothing Mendy does better than Bute and the Frenchman just isn't in Lucian's class. I expect Bute might carry the fight a little bit to give the Romanian fans some rounds, since he rarely fights in his native country anymore, but Mendy will never be in any danger of winning this thing. I'm looking for the Lucian Laser body shot to end this thing. Bute KO-9