Lucian Bute wasn't dominant, and didn't bring back any memories of when he was dominating his foes, turning them into victims at Montreal's Bell Centre. But he went back home and got a win tonight, beating Denis Grachev by unanimous decision on scores of 118-110, 116-112, and 115-113. BLH scored it 115-113 for Bute, who left plenty of open questions after this performance.
Let's start with the good. Bute (31-1, 24 KO) took some decent shots from Grachev (12-1-1, 8 KO), and kept going. That was good to see after Froch so utterly annihilated him earlier this year. He also closed the fight wonderfully, leaving it all in the ring in the 12th round, and dominating that frame, which earned him the victory instead of a draw on my card, and on one of the official cards. The 118-110 card for Bute was clearly far too wide, while the other two cards were perfectly legit.
Bute showed he can survive a tougher than expected fight, but that also leaves this big question: Why was it so much tougher than most expected? Grachev is a competent, physically strong fighter, but limited and was figured by most to be in over his head against Bute. Though he upset Ismayl Sillakh earlier this year, the feeling still, at least for me, is that that will be a weird loss on Sillakh's record in the end, or proof that he didn't have it mentally, which would be figured out later if more situations like that one arise in future bouts.
But Bute never dominated the fight, and never seemed "in the zone," or totally comfortable. He was mostly fine, but "mostly fine" is not the performance he was likely hoping for as he approaches a contractually obligated rematch with Froch in spring 2013. This fight surely didn't give anyone the impression that he'll fare better against the Englishman next time out -- if anything, it probably cemented the belief that Froch will repeat his performance when they meet again, and run through Bute a second time, simply because he's better, stronger, and tougher than the Romanian-Canadian.
For now, this win was acceptable. But if he stays course, Lucian Bute needs to pull out something a lot bigger next time out.
Former super flyweight world titlist Rodrigo Guerrero stopped Sebastien Gauthier in the eighth round, in a bantamweight bout that featured plenty of action, with both men having their moments. Guerrero started pretty hot in the first round, but Gauthier turned it around on him in the second, and through the middle rounds, they would trade quick momentum shifts back and forth. It became a war of attrition in round seven, as both were hurt, with Guerrero closing the round stronger, and taking that into the eighth, where he floored Gauthier on a left hook to the body, and finished him off in the corner after that. Guerrero 18-4-1 (12), Gauthier 22-4 (14).
American veteran Allan Green survived a scare against 40-year-old Renan St-Juste in a light heavyweight bout, stopping St-Juste after seven rounds, but not without having to come off the canvas in the third round. He was also shaken a time or two more, but mostly he was able to have his way with St-Juste, and forced him out of the fight after the seventh round, when St-Juste retired in the corner. Green is an interesting case; he's far from elite, which we learned years ago, and when matched against top fighters, he's going to lose, and it won't be all that competitive. But he has power, and he can be useful in the right matchup. He wouldn't do poorly to live out the remainder of his career as a high-end gatekeeper for good prospects, and between that, fighting in bouts like this one, evenly-matched for the most part. Green 32-4 (22), St-Juste 23-4-1 (15).