Head to head: Bute vs. Andrade
LUCIAN BUTE-LIBRADO ANDRADE
When: Saturday, Nov. 28
Where: Quebec City, Quebec
TV: HBO, 10 p.m. ET / PT (delayed on West Coast)
Weight: Super middleweight (168 pounds)
Also on the card: Ali Funeka vs. Joan Guzman, 12 rounds, for a vacant lightweight title.
Height / Reach: 6-2 (188cm) / 70 (178cm)
Hometown: Montreal (from Romania)
Turned pro: 2003
Record: 24-0 (19 knockouts)
Trainer: Stephane Larouche
The Ring rating: No. 2 super middleweight
Titles: super middleweight (2007-present; three successful defenses).
Biggest victories: Alejandro Berrio, Oct. 19, 2007, TKO 11 (wins super middleweight title); Andrade, Oct. 24, 2008, UD 12.
Losses / draws: None.
Height: 6-2 (188cm) / 78 (198cm)
Hometown: La Habra, Calif. (from Jesus del Monte, Guanajuato, Mexico)
Turned pro: 2005
Record: 28-2 (21 knockouts)
Trainer: Howard Grant
The Ring rating: No. 5 super middleweight
Biggest victories: Yusaf Mack, Oct. 6, 2007, TKO 7; Robert Stieglitz, March 22, 2008, TKO 8; Vitali Tsypko, April 4, 2009, UD 12.
Losses: Mikkel Kessler, March 24, 2007, UD 12; Bute, Oct. 28, 2007, UD 12.
Skills: Unless you believe the ability to take endless punches to the face is a “skill,” you have to admit that Bute, an aggressive stick-and-move specialist, deserves the nod in this category. That's not to say Andrade is absolutely void of skill. The California-based Mexican contender has decent punching technique, especially on the inside, but his abilities — physical strength and durability — are better suited for a slugging style. Bute’s abilities — which include excellent balance and footwork, feints, a decent jab and a well-timed straight left — are better suited for boxing.
Power: Both fighters have impressive knockout percentages, but neither possess one-punch KO power. Both men wear their opponents down with volume punching. Bute does it with a consistent in-and-out attack punctuated by accurate power punching; Andrade does it with constant pressure highlighted by brutal infighting. Both men have grinded down their share of quality opposition. Bute has TKO victories over James Obede Toney, Berrio, William Joppy and Zuniga. Andrade has stopped Otis Grant, Mack and Stieglitz.
Speed and athletic ability: Both fighters are tremendous athletes but Bute, who possess very fast hands and reflexes, is the more naturally gifted of the two. The Montreal-based Canadian’s stick-and-move style is dependent on his speed, timing and hand-eye coordination, all of which are excellent. Andrade’s speed and reflexes are average at best.
Defense: Bute won’t remind anyone of a 168-pound Pernell Whitaker but the southpaw’s reflexes and fleet feet are usually good enough to evade in-coming punches. Andrade’s defense is his rock-solid chin.
Experience: Andrade turned pro four years earlier (1999) and has four more pro bouts than Bute, but the titleholder had a more extensive amateur career and began fighting fringe-contender-level opponents by the end of his second year in the pro ranks. Both Bute and Andrade have faced three RING-ranked contenders (not counting each other) and both have defeated three (former, current or future) titleholders.
Chin: Now that Antonio Margarito has been knocked out (and subsequently suspended for tampering with his handwraps prior to being stopped by Shane Mosley), Andrade is the standard-bearer iron-jawed warrior for Mexico. Only power-punching light heavyweight contender Yusaf Mack has put Andrade down (in the first-round of their slugfest) and the Southern Californian got up and resumed his usual pressure without any ill-effects. Bute’s chin is also reliable as long as he’s not fatigued the way he was in the final round of the first Andrade bout. However, the titleholder will go into a retreat mode if tagged cleanly, perhaps indicating that he doesn’t have the confidence in his whiskers that Andrade does.
Conditioning: Bute has superb conditioning, which allows him to move for 12 rounds against a normal opponent. However, the constant pressure from Andrade caused him to peter out by the 12th round of their first encounter. He was lucky that he was dropped with only a few seconds left in the fight. Andrade, on the other hand, has the kind of conditioning and stamina that allows him to stalk opponents while absorbing a lot of punishment for 12 rounds.
Wear and tear: The drawback to Andrade’s solid chin is that he walks through too many punches, hard shots that will eventually take their toll and have probably already begun to.
Corner: Bute and Andrade are coached by two of Canada’s best young trainers (and arguably the two best in Montreal). Bute’s trainer St├®phan Larouche, has coached former light heavyweight titleholder Adrian Diaconu and 130-pound fringe contender Benoit Gaudet to moderate success. He also trained former 122-pound beltholder Steve Molitor for a few fights. Andrade’s trainer, Howard Grant, is a former amateur boxing standout who trained his brother Otis to an alphabet middleweight title in the mid-1990s and currently trains 140-pound contender Herman Ngoudjo and UFC welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre (an elite MMA fighter).
Outcome: Andrade has made subtle improvements since taking on Grant as his head trainer (in mid-2007), which should help him stay in the fight as Bute builds an early lead with his quick hands and feet. Bute will land one-two combinations from various angles as Andrade stalks forward in the early rounds of the bout, however, by the middle rounds of the fast-paced bout, the challenger will make use of a right-hand lead from mid-range and occasionally clip Bute with left hooks over the titleholder’s low-held right hand. Going into the late rounds of the bout, Andrade will be able to close the gap and either nail Bute with body shots and uppercuts on the inside or force the titleholder to the ropes. However, Andrade will find that Bute is an underrated body puncher who can hustle in close when he needs to. Spurred on by a wildly supportive hometown crowd, Bute will alternately box and trade with Andrade in the final two rounds. He will get rocked by Andrade’s uppercuts and chopping right hands but he will hold on during the rough spots and make it to the final bell with a slight lead on the scorecards.
Prediction: Bute wins a close, competitive but unanimous decision.
Michael Rosenthal contributed to this report