The old adage that you can fight em’ another day seems to ring true often in life. In boxing, not so much. The ideal thing for any fighter to do is take advantage of the opportunities they have while in their prime and try to maximize their gains. Many fighters have done so and will continue to do so just as some might fail at reaching the absolute pinnacle. Lucian Bute, 32-4-1, 25 KO’s, is a fighter that has been on both ends of the spectrum.
The Romanian-Canadian really started to gain notice outside of Canada after a controversial win over a very game Librado Andrade in their first fight. This was a fight that saw Bute gas very late and he was essentially out on his feet in the waning seconds of the 12th round. The referee, seeming on his side, gave Bute a very, very long count that saw him repeatedly turn around to warn Andrade of staying in the neutral corner. Time eventually ran out and Bute was able to retain his International Boxing Federation (IBF) super middleweight title.
From there, Bute went on a streak that saw him gain a more definitive knockout victory over Andrade in their rematch, along with wins over Edison Miranda, Brian Magee, and an always game Glen “Road Warrior” Johnson. This streak coincided with the infamous Showtime Super-Six tournament that pitted six of the top super middleweights against each other in series of fights, tournament style, that spanned a few years. Bute was fighting on a different network at the time and was always considered the super middleweight on the outside that could hold claim to the number #1 at 168 pounds title.
There was always chatter of pitting Bute with the winner of the Super-Six which eventually became Andre Ward. Ward won the title with a victory over Carl “The Cobra” Froch in the final match of the tournament which took place at the end of 2011. While we didn’t get the fight with Ward, Bute did fight Froch on May 26, 2012, and was blitzed in a 5th round technical knockout loss. This fight showed us something. It showed us that as good as Bute had looked up until that point those at the very tip-top of the super middleweight division seemed to have something more. Froch looked a class above Bute. This takes nothing away from Bute’s accomplishments, but those #1 rankings that had been thrown upon him came a bit premature.
Bute made the move to light heavyweight from there where he picked up a win over a game, but limited Denis Grachev. Since the move, Bute has gone 2-3-1, losing to Jean Pascal, James DeGale, and most recently Eleider Alvarez. The most recent fight has shown us that Bute’s time in the sun has pretty much passed. At 37 years old there isn’t much a trainer could do at this point to change his game. We’ve seen the best of Bute and while he was good, it didn’t reach the level of great. Additionally, Bute has seemingly looked a bit timid and at a loss of confidence is the majority of his fights since suffering the loss to Froch.
When a fighter’s confidence goes, it opens up a world of trouble that can be fixed only by the fighters. Often times, a fighter isn’t able to come back from such. Bute has shown that he’s willing to get in the ring but as his competition has risen he hasn’t shown the ability to duplicate his early success. The choice of hanging up the gloves seems like it’s very hard and personal for a fighter to make. We have many veteran boxers who are still trying to hang on to the glory that saw them reach phenomenal heights, though the fall a step back with each round spent taking punishment. It may not be over for Bute and if he wants to go out with a win, power to him. That said, it’s always better to leave on your own than being forced to do so in unfortunate circumstances. Bute’s place in history is cemented and he’ll definitely be remembered as one of the better 168 pounds and above fighters of this era. When the curtain calls we all must eventually answer.Contact the Feature Writers