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Bute blasts Zuniga in four

13
Mar

Lucien Bute (right) used hard lefts to the body, like he's landing here, to crumple Fulgencio Zuniga in the fourth round of their IBF super middleweight title fight in Montreal, Canada on Friday. Photo by Herby Whyne/Fightwireimages.com

Super middleweight standout Lucian Bute may have erased some of the doubts fans had about him after his close call with Librado Andrade last October by dominating Fulgencio Zuniga to a fourth-round technical knockout Friday night.

Bute (24-0, 19 knockouts) dropped Zuniga with a perfect left uppercut to the solar plexus midway through the fourth and then overwhelmed the helpless Colombian veteran with a flurry of follow-up punches until referee Lindsey Page Jr. stepped in and mercifully stopped the fight at 2:25 of the round.

Prior to the stoppage, Bute, who defended his IBF title in front of 12,000 fans at the Bell Centre in his adopted hometown of Montreal, easily outclassed Zuniga by effectively using his four-inch height advantage, superior speed, and excellent hand-eye coordination to control the distance and pace of the fight, which was televised on Showtime in the U.S.

“I knew I was much faster than him,” said Bute, who made his third defense of his IBF title, “and I took advantage of that.”

Zuniga, a heavy handed plodder, was never in the fight, and with each round Bute stood his ground more and added to his accurate offense. In round one the southpaw titleholder popped his jab and dropped his straight left with impunity. In round two Bute landed uppercuts, body shots and left crosses that halted Zuniga’s forward march. In round three Bute began to stalk Zuniga (22-4-1, 19 KOs), punishing the tough-but-limited brawler with an assortment of power punches.

In the fourth Zuniga was in retreat mode when Bute caught him with the left uppercut to the chest area. Zuniga, who had only been stopped once before, by Kelly Pavlik (on cuts), collapsed in a heap and barely beat the referee’s 10-count. The manner in which Bute went after and stopped his hurt prey was a stark contrast to the way he finished his last fight.

Against Andrade, in the same arena, Bute put on a boxing clinic for 11 rounds before petering out and getting dropped hard in the final seconds of the 12th. Referee Marlon Wright issued a slow count that he interrupted to admonish Andrade for not being far enough in a neutral corner, giving Bute a few precious seconds to get up and make it out of the final round. The manner in which the knockdown was handled caused an uproar among hardcore fans. Some believed Andrade was robbed of a last-second knockout.

Andrade, who sat ringside for Bute’s knockout of Zuniga, wants another crack at the Montreal-based Romanian. The iron-chinned contender, rated No. 3 by THE RING behind No. 2 Bute, will face Vitali Tsypko on April 4 at the Bell Centre in an IBF title-elimination bout.

“I hope he wins,” Bute said of Andrade. “I want to have a rematch to demonstrate to anyone who has questions (about the first fight) that I’m the better fighter.”

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