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Weekend Review: Bute’s big night

29
Nov

Lucian Bute had no trouble landing hard punches against Librado Andrade on Saturday in Quebec City, Canada. Photo / Mike Greenhill-FightWireImages.com

BIGGEST WINNER

Lucian Bute: No one saw that coming. Most observers figured the slick-boxing Romanian would use his skills and quick hands to outbox Librado Andrade and cruise to a victory in their rematch on Saturday in Quebec City, Canada. Instead, he hurt one of the most-durable fighters in the world with a short left and then took him out with perfect body shot. He certainly made up for a questionable victory in their first fight. The problem for Bute could be a lack of competition with the best 168-pounders tied up in the Super Six tournament through 2010. He might have to move up to light heavyweight, the weight at which he started his career, to find a worthy opponent.

BIGGEST LOSER

Librado Andrade: The Mexican slugger almost took out Bute when they met in October of last year and had a chance to finish the job on Saturday. Instead, he went quietly. No one is shocked that Bute won; he’s the superior boxer. However, it was difficult to imagine Andrade being stopped by anyone. He’d only been down one other time in 10-year career. Thus, the fact he finished the fight on all fours after taking a vicious body shot was a stunning sight. Andrade, 31, isn’t finished even though he’s absorbed a lot of punishment in his career. However, it will now be extremely difficult for him realize his dream of becoming the first Mexican to win a super middleweight title.

MOST FRUSTRATED

Ali Funeka: The 6-foot-1 South African gave hell to two top lightweights in his last two fights yet came up short each time, losing a majority decision to Nate Campbell in February and settling for a draw against Joan Guzman on the Lucian Bute-Librado Andrade on Saturday. The latter fight was particularly frustrating for him. Guzman, a tough, talented fighter, was effective early in the fight but Funeka took control in the middle rounds and seemed to do enough to win. Alas, he didn’t, leaving 0-1-1 in fights he could’ve won. The good news is that he is clearly one of the best lightweights in the world. His time will come.

MOST FORTUNATE

Joan Guzman: The Dominican worked extremely hard against Funeka, surviving a nasty cut and bloody nose to keep the fight competitive. So it’s no travesty that he emerged with a draw. That said, though, the 116-112 score in favor of Funeka was probably more reflective of the fight than the two scores of 114-114. Guzman lucked out. That was his first fight in a year and only his second in two years. A loss would’ve been a significant setback. The draw seems to give him added life as a contender. I don’t think he’s quite as good at 135 pounds as he was at lighter weights but he proved against Funeka that he can compete against the best at the higher weight.

BIGGEST WINNER II

Martin Honorio: The Mexican boxer-puncher has victories over the likes of Steven Luevano and Rogers Mtagwa, which helped lift him to legitimate-contender status. However, his one-round knockout loss to Robert Guerrero in November of 2007 raised questions about how far he could go. That’s why his fight against then-unbeaten John Molina on Saturday in Temecula, Calif., was so important. It gave him an opportunity on national television to prove how good he really is. And he didn’t squander it, giving a boxing lesson to his less-experienced opponent en route to an action-packed, but one-sided decision. Honorio might be on his way up, not down.

BIGGEST LOSER II

John Molina: The young fighter from Covina, Calif., is powerful and tough, which he proved again in an entertaining fight Saturday. Now he just needs to continue working on his boxing skills, which led to his downfall against Honorio. The first loss in any fighter’s career is tough to accept. It’s no different in this case. However, Molina is one of the smartest, most even-keeled fighters I’ve ever met. I suspect he will look at that fight as a learning experience, work even harder in the gym on his technique and come back stronger than ever in his next fight. And he has a lot of room to grow. He had only 22 amateur fights, meaning he’s fought competitively only 41 times. You will see a much better fighter in the future.

LEAST-POPULAR TITLEHOLDER?

Koki Kameda: Japan had its own good-vs.-evil matchup on Saturday in Tokyo. Daisuke Naito, the 35-year-old veteran, is admired for his humility. The Associated Press called him “the Manny Pacquiao of Japan.” His opponent, Koki Kameda is brash, even arrogant, traits the Japanese generally don’t embrace. In 2006, he won a disputed decision over a Venezuelan fighter and a Japanese TV station received 50,000 calls complaining it, according to the AP. That’s how much the Japanese detest Kameda. Thus, they must not have been pleased when Kameda outpointed Naito to take his flyweight title. “I want to thank all the fans who supported me,” Kameda said. There couldn’t have been too many.

MOST-CURIOUS SCENARIO

Bernard Hopkins: Hopkins has said that Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao won’t fight because Bob Arum, Pacquiao’s promoter, doesn’t want it to happen right now. He predicts that Mayweather will fight Shane Mosley and Pacquiao will fight Yuri Foreman (another Arum fighter) for a title in an eighth weight division. Assuming Mayweather and Pacquiao win, Hopkins said, they would then meet in the ring. I don’t buy it. Mayweather and Pacquiao aren’t going to risk an opportunity to make upwards of $50 million each by facing other opponents first. Besides, it’s not up to Arum; it’s up to Pacquiao. And I would be shocked if he went a different direction. I suspect Hopkins is playing mind games with Arum and Co. Hopkins is a partner in Golden Boy, which promotes Mayweather.

BEST QUOTE

Broadcaster Jim Lampley, on the likelihood of a Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao fight: “144 percent. Pick any number above 100. It’s going to happen.

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]

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