Weekend Preview: Bute also in action Saturday night
Most of the boxing world's attention is on middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik's title defense against skilled challenger Sergio Martinez, but THE RING's No. 1-rated super middleweight, undefeated titleholder Lucian Bute, is also in action Saturday night and can be seen on the same HBO broadcast that is televising the middleweight title bout from Atlantic City, N.J. While Bute's challenger, power-punching Edison Miranda, isn't perceived to be as much of a threat as Martinez is to Pavlik, the popular native of Romania will fight before a packed and raucous Bell Centre crowd in his adopted hometown of Montreal.
LUCIAN BUTE vs. EDISON MIRANDA
Rounds / weight class: 12 rounds / super middleweights
The backdrop: Bute (25-0, 20 knockouts), an athletic southpaw boxer-puncher with excellent timing and hand speed, appears to be coming into his own after scoring back-to-back fourth-round KOs of Fulgencio Zuniga and Librado Andre. The Montreal-based Romanian’s body attack enabled him to be the first fighter to stop both iron-jawed challengers (Zuniga suffered a ninth-round TKO to Kelly Pavlik, but that 2005 fight was stopped on cuts). Bute’s KO of Andrade last November was especially impressive considering the relentless Mexican-born contender had nearly stopped him in the final seconds of the 12th round of their controversial first fight. Andrade and more than a few fans thought Bute was the recipient of a slow count from Montreal-based ref Marlon Wright, but the undefeated lefty erased all doubt as to who the superior fighter is in their rematch. Bute’s dominance over aggressive sluggers such as Andrade, Zuniga and Alejandro Berrio (the hard-hitting Colombian from whom he took the title) leads most to believe that he will be able to handle Miranda (33-4, 29 KOs), who is 3-2 in his last five bouts. However, it should be noted that Miranda’s recent losses (a fourth-round TKO to Arthur Abraham and a 12-round decision to Andre Ward) were to talented, undefeated contenders. Miranda, who is coming off a first-round KO of unheralded Mexican puncher Francisco Sierra last October, has had six months to train and learn from new coach Joe Goossen. The veteran trainer should have Miranda in tip-top shape and in the best technical form of his career.
Also fighting: Kelly Pavlik vs. Sergio Martinez, 12 rounds, middleweights. This is the fight everyone outside of Montreal is buzzing about, and for good reason. It’s an even matchup between two strong-willed veterans with contrasting styles. The champ has the advantage in size, strength and power; the southpaw challenger, who is no slouch in the punching department, possesses superior speed, reflexes and footwork.
Rating the card: A-. This is HBO’s Championship Boxing at its best. The middleweight title fight is a can’t-miss barnburner and a real pick-’em fight. Bute-Miranda will either showcase an emerging elite boxer or a tougher-than-expected tussle.
TONY THOMPSON vs. OWEN BECK
Rounds / weight class: 10 rounds / heavyweights
Location: Memphis, Tenn.
The backdrop: The main event of this Friday Night Fights card is a heavyweight cross-roads match between an aging former contender (Thompson) and a fading former prospect (Beck). Although he is 38, Thompson (33-2, 21 knockouts) is closer to his prime and in better form than the 33-year-old Beck (29-4, 20 KOs), who then-beltholder Nikolai Valuev crushed in three rounds back in 2006. The 6-foot-5 southpaw won 27 consecutive bouts (including back-to-back victories over fringe contenders Dominick Guinn, Timur Ibragimov and Luan Krasniqi) before a failed but respectable title challenge against Wladimir Klitschko (TKO by 11) in July of 2008. Thompson has only fought twice since losing to Klitschko but he’s coming off a ninth-round stoppage of former prospect Chazz Witherspoon. Beck, on the other hand, is coming off a 10-round TKO loss to Germany-based prospect Manuel Charr in January.
Also fighting: Hank Lundy vs. Tyres Hendricks, 10 rounds, lightweights
Rating the card: B-. This is a solid TV card. Thompson should win the main event easily but Beck, a busy fighter with shoddy defense, might make it a fun scrap while it lasts. The co-featured bout, which pits two unbeaten prospects against each other, should be more competitive. Lundy (17-0-1, 10 KOs), a scrappy Philadelphia native, looks to be in tough vs. Hendricks (18-0-1, 7 KOs), but fighting fellow prospects is nothing new to “Hammerin’ Hank,” who has faced three other undefeated fighters during his rise to contention. Also scheduled for action are prospects Lanard Lane, a 27-year-old junior welterweight who will face shopworn former lightweight contender John Brown in an eight rounder, and 2008 Olympian Gary Russell Jr., a talented 21-year-old featherweight who will be in very soft in his second six rounder.
FERNANDO GUERRERO vs. MICHAEL WALKER
Rounds / weight class: 10 rounds / middleweights
Location: Salisbury, Md.
The backdrop: Guerrero, a former U.S. amateur standout from the Dominican Republic, is a fan favorite in his adopted hometown of Salisbury, Md. The aggressive puncher had a few hiccups on his way to compiling an impressive record (17-0, 14 KOs), suffering knockdowns in close decisions over spoiler Gabriel Rosado and veteran Ossie Duran, but he looked like the goods blasting Jessie Nicklow in the fourth round of his last bout. Guerrero will be tested by Walker (19-3-2, 12 KOs), a hardnosed fireplug who gave hot prospect Daniel Jacobs hell for eight rounds last May.
Also fighting: Shawn Porter vs. Raul Pinzon, 8 rounds, junior middleweights.
Rating the card: B. This should be a fun ShoBox card. Guerrero, an athletic boxer-puncher with questionable whiskers, is facing a pressure fighter with an iron chin. His wildly enthusiastic fans will add to the excitement of the bout and the telecast. Porter (13-0, 10 KOs) struggled in his last bout, a 10-round decision over tall and awkward southpaw Russell Jordan, but he should find Pinzon (17-4, 16 KOs), a heavy handed Colombian who has lost to every prospect he ever fought, made to order.
Elsewhere: Bute isn’t the only 168-pound titleholder in action on Saturday, THE RING’s No. 10-rated super middleweight contender, Robert Stieglitz, is scheduled to defend his belt against Eduard Gutknecht in Magdeburg, Germany.