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Lucian Bute & Jean Pascal: Canada’s Double Threat

By Gina L. Caliboso

Forgive me fight fans, my dear colleague and former boxing fan, Brian Wilbur, broke my heart. 

Okay, so it’s not that kind of a breakup, but nonetheless, I’m in mourning.  He said he’ll be back, but hopefully whatever I write will have him think about this decision.  I need to win him back to the love of boxing.  I’m not exactly sure if whether an article about two French Canadian fighters would do it, but I’m giving it a shot.  A shout out to Brian – come back, my friend, come back! 

As the fight year comes to a close, there have been two boxers that have made 2010 as a standout year.  While the aforementioned sentence can be made about both Manny Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito, I’d like to mention two French Canadian boxers that hail from Quebec, Canada. 

First, there is Lucian “Le Tombeur” Bute, 26-0, 21 KO’s the undefeated super middleweight.  And, as a pleasant surprise to the light heavyweight division, Jean Pascal, 26-1, 16 KO’s.  Both Bute and Pascal have great potential with strong records.  However, both Bute and Pascal are subject to criticism by having failed to head outside the confines of Canada. Even as Canada is our neighbor to the north, both Bute and Pascal face personal challenges to step outside their home country and pursue boxing beyond the safety net of the French Canadian advantage.

As I’ve been writing with RSR since 2009, I’ve followed Bute’s boxing career and have always wondered why he was not chosen to participate in the Super Six Middleweight tournament that has, until recently, been the most exciting aspect of boxing.  With the onset of some questionable judging, a DQ, Jermain Taylor’s withdrawal, and injury upon injury – call it the Super Six Curse, Bute continued to box in the last two years.  And honestly, fight fans, he is the best in the division as his number one ranking indicates.  In his immediate future, he faces Jesse Brinkley on October 15th in defense of his IBF Super Middleweight title.

There is no doubt that Bute has become better in his last three fights going back to 2008.  In October 2008, he faced Librado Andrade for the first time and the boxing match went to a 12 round unanimous decision.  It is in this first fight with Andrade that Bute raised his level of boxing to become the best.

Within his next three bouts through 2008 and 2009, Bute only got better solidifying his wins with KO victories.  In 2009, Bute fought twice.  In March, he fought against Fulgencio Zuniga and came away with the 4th round TKO.  Later, in November, he fought Andrade for the second time and defeated him with a 4th round KO.  Finally, in 2010, he went up against Edison “Pantera” Miranda and earned a 3rd round TKO.  The hard fought 12 round UD against Andrade put Bute on notice that he had to get better quicker and take fights early. 

Bute remains undefeated with a strong KO record. 

But there is one criticism that I have to mention.  Even as talented and strong a fighter and record Bute has earned, I’d have to question just why he remains and continues to fight within Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  Since 2005, Bute has made the Bell Centre, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, his boxing home.  His bouts have safely remained in Canadian judging hands.  With his talent and appeal, I’d say that he has to step out of French Canada and get top billing and fights.   Bute remains protected to a degree.  There is no doubt about his talent and ability, but the big fights, the big venues, the challenge for a fighter to fight outside his home country is where the true test of a champion lies.  It’s too safe and its protection to a degree. 

On a similar note, Jean Pascal has also made the Bell Centre his second home.  As Bute emerged a different fighter from his first bout with Bute, Pascal came out as a different fighter when he suffered a loss back in 2008 against Carl “Cobra” Froch.  Pascal ventured outside Canada and fought Froch in his hometown of Nottingham in the United Kingdom.  Froch earned the then vacant WBC Super Middleweight title with a 12 round UD.  In his last 5 fights since his 2008 loss to Froch, Pascal has become a better fighter, but again, only fighting within the Canadian confines.

After his loss to Froch, Pascal went on to fight four more times in 2009.  In April 2009, he followed up with a 5th round KO over Pablo Daniel Zamora Nievas for the vacant WBO Inter-Continental Super Middleweight title.  Two months later, he moved up to the light heavyweight division and defeated Adrian “The Shark” Diaconu with a 12 round UD and earned the WBC Light Heavyweight belt. 

In September 2009, he fought against Silvio Branco and came away with the 10th round TKO.  He fought again in December against Diaconu and was again pushed to a 12 round UD.  Finally, last month in August, he defeated American “Bad” Chad Dawson, with an 11th round TD. 

Pascal will now face veteran Bernard “Executioner” Hopkins later this year in December.  The fight will take place in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

Both Bute and Pascal have excellent fight records. With his undefeated and KO record, Bute is an extremely exciting, strong, and tactical southpaw.  He has emerged as an excellent fighter and is rightly the IBF Super Middleweight titleholder.  Similarly, Pascal is also the strongest champion within the light heavyweights.  Even as he faced Dawson, he still showed enough ring savvy and skill to earn the win.  However, I would question and challenge both fighters to step out of their French Canadian confines. 

Luckily, both fighters have earned knockouts and decisions, but both fighters need to take the home ring advantage to bigger and larger venues.  Both Bute and Pascal are strong fighters and it’s only a matter of time before they set the challenge for themselves to pursue those bigger fights.

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