Tonight at 9 pm EST on NBC Sports, Lucian Bute returns to action in Montreal, headlining again at the Bell Centre in what is expected to be a tune-up main event at light heavyweight against Italy's Andrea Di Luisa.
Bute (31-2, 24 KO) has not fought since losing to Jean Pascal in January 2014, and his career has really stalled since he was thrashed in May 2012 against Carl Froch. He's fought just two times since then, surviving a tough fight five months later with Denis Grachev, and then the loss to Pascal last year.
Given that Bute, 35, had a tough time with Grachev and really hasn't looked good in any of his fights since 2011, Di Luisa (17-2, 13 KO) may not be as easy as anticipated. The 33-year-old has losses to Christopher Rebrasse and Mouhamed Ali Ndiaye, both below Bute's level, but we don't really know what Bute's level is right now, either.
In the co-feature, emerging light heavyweight contender Eleider Alvarez (17-0, 10 KO) will face Isidro Prieto (24-0-3, 20 KO), an unbeaten but largely untested 29-year-old prospect fighting out of Argentina.
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Lucian Bute def. Andrea Di Luisa by TKO (1:53 of round 4)
Eleider Alvarez def. Isidro Prieto by unanimous decision (117-111, 117-111, 117-111)
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ROUND BY ROUND
LUCIAN BUTE vs ANDREA DI LUISA
Round 1: Bute's legs look good as he's moving well to start the fight after 19 months off. Bute mostly feeling it out to start, Di Luisa there with him but not doing anything to jump on Bute or test him early. Bute lands a few decent shots in the round. Bute still doesn't look like he wants anything to do with fighting on the inside. Bute 10-9
Round 2: Bute looks like a shadow of himself, but it's early. He doesn't look totally comfortable. This kinda feels like sparring with a paid audience to me. Di Luisa doesn't seem to have anything that's going to actually trouble Bute, who is shaking rust. Bute 10-9, 20-18
Round 3: Bute settling in a bit more this round, but still not totally committing to his punches. But he's in easy control. Di Luisa is not good enough to bother him. Bute 10-9, 30-27
Round 4: And there's the laser left from Bute and Di Luisa is down. Di Luisa doesn't seem to want to continue but the referee continues the fight. Bute lands a few more and the corner throws in the towel. Bute TKO-4
ELEIDER ALVAREZ vs ISIDRO PRIETO
Round 1: Let's see what we get here. Alvarez is sometimes exciting, sometimes fairly pedestrian. I know little if anything about Prieto. Alvarez lands an overhand right pretty much right away. Mostly a feeling out round, then Prieto lands a shot. Alvarez jabbing a little but maybe not enough, Flores thinks Prieto has taken it from him, which is good work.He'd know better than I would. Who am I? Just some idiot. He's a professional boxter, like Oscar De La Hoya. Working out is the most important thing in your life. Right from Alvarez, hard right from Prieto that clips and shakes Alvarez a bit before the bell. Alvarez 10-9
Round 2: Prieto looks legitimately heavy handed but Alvarez is clearly a more skilled fighter, faster and with better technique. But Alvarez does make mistakes here and there and gets himself out of position fairly often. Anyway, Alvarez does the better work again this round. Alvarez 10-9, 20-18
Round 3: Alvarez doing better work again, may have cut Prieto it appears. Prieto does get Alvarez cornered in the final minute and lands a couple shots. Big right from Prieto catches Alvarez. Gotta go with Prieto this round, landed the harder shots and they were clean. Prieto 10-9, Alvarez 29-28
Round 4: Prieto is starting to bully Alvarez some now. Prieto swings with real purpose, landing or not. Good right from Alvarez on the inside, Prieto comes right back. Prieto wants this to be a brawl, and he lands a hard uppercut inside. Prieto loses his footing, though, and can't follow up. Alvarez seems easily suckered into abandoning his advantages to me. Prieto 10-9, 38-38
Round 5: Alvarez working his jab better to start this round, which is what he wanted to do coming in. Keeping Prieto at bay much more in the first two minutes here. Sharp right from Alvarez hurts Prieto just a little. Alvarez 10-9, 48-47
Round 6: Alvarez getting into a real rhythm now, both guys throwing and Prieto prefers that, so he's happy with the pace right now. Prieto with a big right and Alvarez is hurt! Prieto landing shots again! Alvarez getting rocked around and not able to hold effectively, but he basically tackles Prieto down to buy time. Big momentum killer. Prieto lands a couple more hard shots. Prieto 10-9, 57-57
Round 7: Alvarez calming it down this round and back into it. Prieto dropping his hands and trying to bait Alvarez into attacking and giving him some openings, but Alvarez just keeps working. Good right counter from Alvarez, and then a right from Prieto. Alvarez 10-9, 67-66
Round 8: Prieto looking a little tired, hasn't gone this deep in a fight but a few times. Alvarez looking a lot fresher now. Alvarez getting a little more aggressive now as he senses Prieto's fatigue. Alvarez 10-9, 77-75
Round 9: Prieto still tired and showing it but has a nice round here, with Alvarez giving him a little too much room to work, and Prieto does the work. Prieto 10-9, Alvarez 86-85
Round 10: Alvarez with a nice bounce-back round if you're like me and in the minority of people who thought Prieto took the 9th round. You might not be. You're probably not. But either way Alvarez took this round and has the momentum back if he ever lost it at all. Alvarez 10-9, 96-94
Round 11: Alvarez taking over down the stretch in this fight. Had it even in the first half, almost all Alvarez in the second half. Alvarez 10-9, 106-103
Round 12: Credit to Prieto, he fights round 12 for a knockout. He doesn't get it, but he sure fought for it. Good work for Alvarez as he got a test and passed it. Prieto won this round and I have it a lot closer than TV does. Prieto 10-9, Alvarez 115-113