The Ring All-Star Report Cards: Lucian Bute
Note: This feature originally appeared in the October edition of THE RING magazine. The November issue, with Floyd Mayweather Jr. on the cover, is on newsstands now. The cover story is titled: “10 Guys Who Would Have Kicked Mayweather's Butt.”
It was out with the old and in with the new as THE RING composed this year’s All-Star Report Cards. Gone from last year’s survey are such old warhorses as Bernard Hopkins, Roy Jones, Ricky Hatton, Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez, Chris John and Israel Vazquez. In place of those fighters were newer, fresher names like Yuriorkis Gamboa and Timothy Bradley, a sign that new blood is being pumped into the sport. Meanwhile, names like Sergio Martinez and Pongsaklek Wonjongkam show that our All-Star list always has room for veterans, provided they’re still producing in the ring.
Aside from the youth movement, other trends have emerged this year. For instance, there is a noticeable dip in Mexican or Mexican-American fighters among our 20 All-Stars. When THE RING first compiled this roster in 2003, there were five such fighters listed; this year, there is one. Also, the number of fighters born in the United States shrunk from 13 in 2003 to a measly four this year. Lopez and Miguel Cotto are U.S. citizens by way of Puerto Rico, but they didn’t learn their stuff in the American amateur system, so they can’t be counted. Brits are on the rise, though. There was only one Brit All-Star in 2003, but three made the list this year, sans Hatton.
Perhaps you’re wondering why some of your favorite fighters didn’t make the list, but rest assured that many other fighters were given close consideration. It’s just that some fighters seem to lose fights as we’re creating our list, and others just fall a bit short in terms of box office and general excitement value.
The 20 fighters who made it weren't chosen solely on their ability to sell tickets and attract cable customers but the ability to fill seats definitely plays a big part in our selection process. Some fighters, Nonito Donaire for example, might not yet be a legitimate star on the level of Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Manny Pacquiao, but we felt he can compete with the best in terms of talent, and is certainly on his way to stardom.
Those who were removed from last year’s list are gone because they simply didn’t do enough to merit inclusion this year. The one exception is the late Edwin Valero. He made it last time, and there was every reason to believe he’d repeat.
With that in mind, here are the 2010 All-Star Report Cards. The fighters are judged on talent, achievement, marketability, support system, and growth potential. They are presented in order of weight class, starting with the heavyweights.
Today: Lucian Bute. Tomorrow: Sergio Martinez.
IBF Super middleweight titleholder
26-0 (21 KOs)
TALENT: Bute has always been a solid, talented fighter, but he’s improving in terms of both skill and confidence. In recent bouts, he’s knocked opponents down with a wide variety of punches, including body shots, uppercuts and a sizzling left cross. At 6 feet, 2 inches, he’s a tall, rangy southpaw, and he has become one of the most complete boxer-punchers in the sport. Still, questions about his chin and stamina are worth asking. He was KOed by Gennady Golovkin in the 2003 World Championships in Bangkok and was nearly stopped by Librado Andrade in their first bout. Questions about durability aside, he’s fun to watch. Grade: A-
ACHIEVEMENT: Since making last year’s All-Star list, Bute has scored two dramatic knockouts. The first was in a rematch with Andrade, in which Bute made us all forget how he stumbled his way to the finish of their 2008 bout. This time, Bute demolished Andrade in four rounds. After that, Bute had no problem KOing Edison Miranda in three. Miranda was Bute’s fifth successful defense of the IBF super middleweight belt, which Bute won by stopping Alejandro Berrio in 2007. Sakio Bika, William Joppy and Dingaan Thobela have also fallen to Bute. In Bika’s case, it was before he was well-known from The Contender series. In the cases of Thobela and Joppy, it was after their stars had fallen. Grade: B+
MARKETABILITY: The personable Romanian is a star in Quebec, his two bouts with Andrade each drawing more than 16,000 to the Bell Centre in Montreal. He could soon be making inroads on HBO. He comes across well on TV, and Luis Barragan, the director of programming for HBO Sports, has already gone on record saying that Bute has the “it” factor that translates to viewers, even if he doesn’t speak English. His title defense against Jesse Brinkley on Oct. 15 in Montreal will be televised live on ESPN3.com and on tape on ESPN two days later. Grade: A-
SUPPORT SYSTEM: While having a major Canadian city behind him, as well as the interest of a major American cable network, is nice, Bute’s trainer Stephane Larouche remains the prime mover behind Bute’s career. Not only is Larouche credited with turning Bute from an undisciplined swinger into the polished fighter we see now, but Larouche is also director of operations for Interbox, Bute’s promoter. Thinking as both trainer and promoter, Larouche has molded Bute’s style by instilling in him the importance of closing the show with a flourish. Larouche understands that fighting on HBO is a key to mainstream success, and he has drilled it into Bute’s head that this is his time to shine. It’s refreshing to hear someone say that the audience counts for something. For that reason, we may never hear Larouche say, “Let’s just win tonight and look good next time.” Grade: A-
GROWTH POTENTIAL: The challenge for Bute’s camp is to keep him busy while the Showtime tourney is still cooking, for that’s where most of his future opponents are at the moment. Grade: A-
Previous All-Star Report Cards
Wladimir Klitschko https://www.ringtv.com/blog/2359/the_ring_allstar_rerport_cards_wladimir_klitschko/
Vitali Klitschko https://www.ringtv.com/blog/2360/the_ring_allstar_rerport_cards_vitali_klitschko/
David Haye https://www.ringtv.com/blog/2365/the_ring_allstar_rerport_cards_david_haye/
Tomasz Adamek https://www.ringtv.com/blog/2366/the_ring_allstar_rerport_cards_tomasz_adamek/
Andre Ward https://www.ringtv.com/blog/2372/the_ring_allstar_rerport_cards_andre_ward/
Mikkel Kessler https://www.ringtv.com/blog/2375/the_ring_allstar_rerport_cards_mikkel_kessler/
Carl Froch https://www.ringtv.com/blog/2377/the_ring_allstar_rerport_cards_carl_froch/