Carl Froch dominated Lucian Bute yesterday in Nottingham, winning the IBF super middleweight title via fifth round TKO. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Carl Froch TKO-5 Lucian Bute: In a brutally thrilling effort, Froch lifted the IBF super middleweight title from Bute and ended the Romanian-Canadian's undefeated run in the pros, thrashing him over four-plus rounds in front of a rabid crowd in Nottingham. The fight was never really close -- Bute had but occasional moments, and his slow start out of the gate sealed his fate by the third round, when he was battered around the ring and seemed like he had no idea what to do with the relentlessly aggressive Froch, who was throwing punches at Bute with reckless abandon. This was a true exposure -- not that it means Bute is a bad fighter, but it means that the criticisms were correct.
Still, I think you have to give Bute credit. He showed up here. He went on the road to face a good opponent. He hasn't whined about the loss. I just don't see what's so personally offensive about Lucian Bute. Let me put it this way: He's never talked trash, never paraded around calling out guys. All he's said is "I would fight that man." He took a tough fight and lost. It happens. I've got a lot of respect for the way Bute carries himself. He's got real class. Credit Froch for what he did, because he deserves it. But slagging off Bute as a "bum" gives Froch no credit. If Bute's a bum, then the win doesn't mean a whole lot. Full recap. Froch 29-2 (21), Bute 30-1 (24).
Carl Frampton UD-12 Raul Hirales: Frampton's performance wasn't scintillating, but it was effective, and it was the first 12-round fight of his young career. The fight itself was a disappointment and there's no getting over that, but the more I think about the fight, I am impressed with Frampton more than I was at first, I think, and I wasn't ripping his performance or anything. This is a good, young fighter with a future. And if he really fights Kiko Martinez next, that's phenomenal. A risk, and a good fight for this stage of his career. It would show real balls, which I'm convinced he has in spades. Full recap. Frampton 14-0 (9), Hirales 16-1-1 (8).
Pier Olivier Cote TKO-5 Mark Lloyd: Shaking off the rust, Cote started a little slow and didn't seem to have the usual zip on his fastball, but he got Lloyd out with some good shots in the fifth. Cote could probably stand another tune-up fight before testing his luck against a better foe, as was the plan in February when he was to face Mauricio Herrera before pulling out due to illness. Full recap. Cote 19-0 (13), Lloyd 15-6 (3).
Pablo Cesar Cano KO-9 Fidel Monterrosa: This is a good win for Cano, who knocked out Monterrosa on a body shot. If Monterrosa's name is familiar but you can't place it, it's because he twice fought and lost to Humberto Soto, giving the Mexican veteran a decent test the first time out. He's also been knocked out twice since then, but Cano's still a pup. He got a big shot with Erik Morales last year and I thought acquitted himself nicely considering his youth and inexperience, and now he's won two straight over decent opponents, both by stoppage. He's worth watching at 135/140. We know he's tough. Cano 24-1-1 (19), Monterrosa 29-6 (23).
Sergio Thompson TKO-5 Juan Ramon Solis: Thompson moved back down to 130 for this one, after his win at 135 over Jorge Linares. He's definitely interesting -- before the Linares win, he wasn't in the picture, but he's got a big KO percentage and just keeps winning. Of his two losses, he avenged one, and the other was to Ali Rahimov, who isn't a bad fighter by any means. Thompson 23-2 (21), Solis 17-6 (6).
Deontay Wilder TKO-1 Jesse Oltmanns: Another completely useless win for Wilder, who can't have possibly "learned" or "matured" much at all with a 26-second win over a guy who had fought once since 2004, that being a four-round loss in a Georgia club fight against a guy who was 10-16-1. Wilder's professional career has been an exhibition. He's apparently penciled in to face Owen Beck next on June 23 in Alabama. Beck, who has lost seven straight (six by stoppage) and lost his last fight to a guy making his pro debut, is actually a step up for Wilder. Wilder will win because Beck is pretty terrible now. It won't mean much of anything. The truth is, Wilder's handlers are doing him no favors with this stuff. I have nothing in the world against Deontay Wilder. His role in getting the Alabama commission going with boxing was very admirable. And I know he's still a bit raw. But he can't actually be getting better with fights like this. Eventually he's going to have to face someone decent, and then what? Will he be even remotely prepared for adversity? Wilder 22-0 (22), Oltmanns 10-3 (7).
Saint Charles, Missouri
Ji-Hoon Kim UD-10 Alisher Rahimov: This was a damn good Friday Night Fights main event, and Kim's activity level was spectacular, throwing a recorded 1,225 punches over 10 rounds. Kim has made improvements. He's still somewhat crude, but the little strides he's made have made him a far better fighter than he was before, when he was basically a walking right hand bomb and nothing more. Rahimov is a solid scrapper, but Kim just plain beat him in this one. Ji-Hoon is a fight fan's sort of fighter, and with the shake-ups at lightweight lately, he's in the mix. Kim is a study in contrast to Wilder, actually: With no kid gloves, he's had to make himself better, and he has. His 24-7 record is 10,000 times better than Wilder's 22-0. Full recap. Kim 24-7 (18), Rahimov 23-1 (12).
Vince Thompson UD-8 Joell Godfrey: This was a dreadful TV co-feature, a fight between a heavyweight novice with no future (Thompson) and a cruiserweight club fighter (Godfrey). The fight itself was a dud, too.
Ryan Coyne UD-8 Julius Fogle: Coyne, 29, has dropped from heavyweight to cruiserweight to light heavyweight. He says that he wants world title shots and stuff, but he's just a club fighter. Any step up to world class would see the bubble he's made for himself burst in short order. Fogle was at one point 15-0. That was in 2007. He's lost eight straight (plus a no-contest) since. Coyne 20-0 (8), Fogle 15-8 (10).
Audley Harrison TKO-4 Ali Adams: Harrison gets his first win since his miracle KO of Michael Sprott in 2010, in his first fight since his embarrassing loss to David Haye later that same year. Audley is now 40 and has no upside. I'm hoping this is it for him. He's got no hope of beating better fighters. That said, he's got Tyson Fury written all over him. Mick Hennessy can hype up Audley's Olympic gold medal from 12 years ago as if it's still relevant. Harrison 28-5 (21), Adams 13-4-1 (5).
Panama City, Panama
Luis Concepcion TKO-2 Odilon Zaleta: Concepcion improves to 2-0 on the year with another easy win. He's still a top ten flyweight, even with the two losses to Hernan Marquez. Zaleta was down three times in the second round. Concepcion 25-3 (20), Zaleta 14-2 (7).
Jesus Soto Karass SD-10 Said El Harrak: The win in the Box Azteca main event (which was originally supposed to be Antonio Margarito's return) gives Soto Karass his first W since August 2009, a five-fight stretch with four losses and a no-contest. Given that the losses were to Alfonso Gomez, Mike Jones (twice), and Gabe Rosado, it could have been a worse run. JSK is an admirable, tough fighter. With how he looked against Rosado, I'm not sure he's got a lot left to be a serious test for up-and-coming fighters. Scores were 97-93 and 96-94 for Soto Karass, and 97-93 for El Harrak. Soto Karass 25-7-3 (16), El Harrak 10-2-1 (5).
Jose Benavidez UD-6 Josh Sosa: Blue chipper Benavidez keeps rolling, as he got some work in here and cruised to a decision win. The Phoenix native maintains a very bright future. He's dominated as a pro, and just turned 20 all of 12 days ago. He will quite possibly outgrow the 140-pound division by the time he's ready to make a serious move. The good news is that he's 5'11" with a 73" reach, so welterweight and beyond likely won't be a physical stretch for him. Benavidez 15-0 (12), Sosa 10-3 (5).
Lee Selby TKO-5 Patrick Okine: Selby, 25, got to face one of the Warren clan's famous "teak tough Africans" in this one, and as usual, Azumah Nelson was not a proper comparison. Okine, nicknamed "The Mallet," had lost to the only halfway credible fighter he'd ever faced, and lost this one badly. This was for Selby's Commonwealth featherweight title, but the British title was not on the line. Selby 13-1 (5), Okine 11-2-1 (9).
Frankie Gavin RTD-5 Laszlo Komjathi: Gavin is getting good press right now, with folks saying he's refocused himself and gotten himself together in his personal life. I hope he has. I have said many times I'm a huge fan of Frankie's talent, and I remain so. Still, he fought this one (a stay-busy fight, to be fair) at 150 pounds, a career high weigh-in, and most feel if he's got a serious future at world level, it's at 140. Despite his 5'10" frame, Gavin has not carried 147 very well. But the most important thing, no matter the weight, is that Gavin fights with a good head on his shoulders and has himself sorted out. Gavin in a better mental state than before may be far more effective at 147 than he's looked. Gavin 13-0 (10), Komjathi 43-41-2 (16).
Liam Smith TKO-1 Andrew Patterson: Another easy win for young Liam. "Beefy" may turn out the best of the three Smith brothers who are currently pros. I think we've seen the upside and ceiling for Paul and Stephen, quality domestic fighters in their own right. They're sort of like Liverpool's version of the Fighting Kamedas. Smith 10-0-1 (5), Patterson 5-31-3 (4).
Fres Oquendo TKO-9 Joey Abell: Oquendo, 39, is still kicking, and got back into the ring near his Chicago home, just over the state line in Hammond, which is just a lovely city. (It's not.) Abell is a familiar name at this level. Really, Oquendo is still a decent fighter. He's past his prime, but his most recent losses were both very debatable (I thought he deserved Ws over both Oliver McCall and Jean-Marc Mormeck, not that this means a ton). Fres is hoping to get one last big fight. Wladimir Klitschko could do and recently has done worse. Oquendo 34-7 (22), Abell 28-6 (27).
La Paz, Mexico
David Lopez UD-10 Julio Cesar Garcia: "The Destroyer" rebounds from his loss to Austin Trout with a win in Mexico. For years, Lopez was avoided at 154/160 and just kept winning. That will probably be the case for the rest of his career, as he'll likely fight guys at this level. Lopez 41-13 (23), Garcia 45-6 (38).
Ezequiel Maderna UD-12 Ruben Acosta ... Silvio Olteanu TKO-5 Giuseppe Lagana, Luis Ortiz TKO-2 Walter Palacios, Jean Sampson DQ-6 Rosendo Alvarez, Cleotis Pendarvis UD-12 Robert Frankel.