Mike Perez D Carlos Takem
Perez's name has been floated around as a major contender against the Klitschkos, an heir-apparent to the heavyweight crown (post-Klitschko), and was touted as having the eye of Gennady Glovokin, whose trainer he now has on his side. None of those laudables, however, were on display Saturday night following a listless performance against Carlos Takem, with whom had a (questionable) majority draw.
Despite his side pointing to an early headbutt taking him out of his rhythm, Takem pressed the action more and appeared to have done enough to get the edge, but the judges seemed to have felt otherwise. It is hard to say whether his tragic fight against Magomed Abdulsalamov, who has only recently began to take his first steps after falling into a coma afterwards, played an additional role in his disposition, but Perez looked nothing like a top prospect--not a good look on his biggest televised stage, to date.
Jean Pascal UD Lucian Bute
Once upon a time, Lucian Bute was one of the most stout talents in boxing. Very solid skills, toughness, power, a deft use of the liver shot--Bute had everything and a rabid fanbase in his home city of Montreal…and then, one fateful early-2012 night in the UK changed all of that for him. There, he suffered a disastrous wipeout at the hands of rugged Carl Froch, who demolished him inside five rounds. Now, one tune-up fight at the end of that year and a quiet 2013 later, Bute finally returned to the ring Saturday versus another Montreal stalwart in Jean Pascal in a hotly-anticipated showdown--but only a shell of the fighter was present that night. The former champion looked skinnier, tentative, and unsure of himself, nor did he possess any command of the ring, making him easy pickings for Pascal, who had longed for the chance.
And that, Pascal partook of…somewhat. True enough, Jean Pascal only had to be Jean Pascal to overcome Lucian Bute in his current state, but yet, that in of itself was the problem. Pascal has the attributes to be impressive with his explosive speed and power, but he often never does enough in the ring and consistently makes erroneous tactical mistakes. Assuredly, even the bare minimum can be enough to defeat a pensive opponent, but when it is one of significance, like Bute, in a hometown battle, and he is being offered on a silver platter, that sort of effort is not enough on a satisfactory level.
True to form, Pascal did not manage to impress in an simple, easy victory, only really being active in the latter portions of rounds. He barraged Bute with big flurries that often connected, and sometimes even staggered him, but never did he have him close to stoppage either. Roy Jones, Jr. be darned, this version of Pascal was no different than the one that got embarrassed by the near fifty-year-old Bernard Hopkins or who defeated the perennially-lacking Chad Dawson. He did little different and looked little different (both fight-wise and still-too-muscular-body-wise) from other outings, including his lengthy stretches of inactivity and inexplicably allowing his opponent to mount a comeback with little resistance.
This particular habit was on display very late in Saturday's bout, and namely in 12th round, when Bute pummeled Pascal with little recourse until the end (Pascal earlier tried to play a similar rebound like an act of machismo in showing he wasn't getting hurt, but that round may prove otherwise). Ultimately, Bute was there for the taking and Pascal did not capitalize on a prime situation in their mutual hometown. Similar to Dawson and a number of his own bouts, Pascal may have won the fight, but did not do nearly enough to garner any additional fanfare or interest for future bouts or his own prospects or growth.
On the opposite end, however--and in spite of a lackluster performance for much of the night--Lucian Bute seemed to show more fight and heart in the final round than Pascal had all night, enough so that I would probably rather watch another fight with him than the one that actually beat him. Boxing can be a strange and funny thing, sometimes, but that little spark of fire that appeared to still be lit in that shell spoke more than any of the empty action that his compatriot showed. He even appeared to have a little bit of pop in his punches, still, as Pascal appeared to be bothered by his jabs (however intermittent they were).
Yet, reality is reality, and 11 rounds and beyond--back towards the Froch bout--Lucian Bute has not been Lucian Bute, and it is unknown whether the latter will ever be back again. The fighter in Rd. 12 looked as if he had seen his career flash before his eyes and finally realized that his defeat was imminent and, thus, fought like his life depended on it. One single round may have provided a glimmer of hope, but that alone is not enough to determine what his future might hold. The rest of the chapters of the book on his life in the ring, with the stubble of pages ripped out by Carl Froch, have yet to be rewritten.
As discouraging the fight was, one showed a sliver of something promising ahead and one showed a continual path towards nothing. And it may not be who one might expect from merely reading the results…