Bute vs. Andrade – the Super Middleweight Fight of the Year – this Friday, on Showtime!

By John Alutus: In the super middleweight fight of the year, undefeated IBF Super Middleweight Champion Lucian Bute (22-0, 18 KOs) will make the second defence of his title against No.1 ranked, mandatory challenger Librado Andrade (27-1, 21 KOs) in a special edition of ShoBox: The New Generation, Friday, October 24th, live on SHOWTIME at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast)..

After impressive wins over Sakio Bika and Alejandro Berrio, Montreal based Romanian Canadian IBF Champion Lucian Bute will be tested in what will undoubtedly be his hardest fight to date when he takes on Mexican American warrior Librado Andrade at the Bell Centre in Montreal. After knocking out Otis Grant and giving Mikkel Kessler by far his most physical fight to date, Librado Andrade has come on in leaps and bounds, proving himself once again one of the best in the division, with impressive knock-outs of Yusaf Mack and Robert Stieglitz. If in his last title fight, he was just happy to be there, in the company of the likable Mikkel Kessler, this time around, Andrade has come to derail Bute's journey towards the pound for pound peaks and to take home something he feels should belong to him - the IBF belt. With Ring Magazine ranking Bute 3rd and Andrade 4th, this fight pits together the fighters with the highest average ranking since the super middleweight unification fight between Joe Calzaghe and Mikkel Kessler. The title reigns of all three current titleholders being still in their infancy, a comparable bout at super middleweight won't be on the horizon until next year at the earliest, when the division will truly come to age, under a new generation of titleholders, contenders and prospects like Kessler, Bute, Inkin, Andrade, Taylor, Lacy, Pascal, Froch, Berrio, Bika, Dirrell, Ward and Balzsay.

The mouth-watering clash of styles is sure to make for an entertaining fight. Bute is a big, strong, tactical boxer-puncher with good speed, footwork, technique. He has a very good chin and good power too. The much underrated, immensely tough, iron-chinned Andrade possesses apparently endless stamina, allowing him to apply the kind of relentless pressure that only the best and strongest could withstand. What makes this fight particularly appealing is that Bute doesn't do well under pressure, and Andrade can apply more pressure than anyone else at 168 lbs. Andrade, for his part, has trouble with fast, technical boxers with good movement, and Bute possesses these qualities to a greater extent than anyone else at 168 lbs. To be considered the real deal, a technical boxer-puncher like Bute needs to prove two things: that he can take world class punches and that he can withstand relentless pressure from a tough, iron-chinned world class pressure fighter like Andrade. Bute proved his chin by taking flush bombs from former IBF Champion Alejandro Berrio, the most dangerous and devastating puncher at 168 lbs (27 KOs from 28 wins). Now it remains for him to prove he can withstand world class pressure too. Andrade has proven his toughness and iron chin against world class and borderline elite opposition. It remains for him to prove that his technique, defence and tactical awareness are good enough to complement his toughness and stamina to allow him to beat a top world class, technical boxer-puncher like Bute. The critical challenges presented by this clash of styles are certain to guarantee fireworks.

In addition to these risks and challenges, this fight presents some great opportunities for both fighters. Andrade will have the chance to impress his critics by showing that he is much more than an unbreakable punching bag with great stamina who demolishes everything put in front of him. Andrade has come on in leaps and bounds since he only managed to win two clear rounds against Kessler a year and a half ago, improving his defence, technique, combinations and tactics. This coming fight against Bute will provide the perfect grandstand for Andrade to showcase his improved and developed skill and technique and the perfect opportunity to prove he is a much better fighter than his critics have given him credit for. Where Bute is concerned, he will have the chance to remove the tag of being a safety-first fighter. If in the past, Bute has played cat and mouse with the likes of Sakio Bika and Alejandro Berrio, hurting them repeatedly but prolonging their suffering for some time before going in for the kill, against Andrade, Bute will be motivated to end the fight as brutally and quickly as he can, because the longer the fight lasts, the greater Andrade's chances of turning the bout in a war of attrition, breaking Bute down and finally knocking him out. Bute will want to show that he is able and willing to go toe to toe with the toughest and strongest out there, proving his mettle and coming out on top whilst Andrade will want to show he is a more refined boxer than critics give him credit for and that he is too tough and relentless a pressure fighter for Bute.

The fight pits together two of the best in a great clash of styles, with each fighter's strengths ideally suited to expose the other's weaknesses. What makes this fight even more attractive is what is at stake. The winner of this fight will challenge for the No. 1 position in one of the deepest, best and most exciting divisions in boxing, with mega-fights against Chad Dawson, Arthur Abraham and Kelly Pavlik also on the cards in the near future, for the winner. Riches and the prospect of even greater exposure on Showtime or HBO World Championship Boxing will motivate these two fighters more than ever to engage in an all-out barnburner that will undoubtedly excite the fans this Friday night.

Like Sakio Bika and Alejandro Berrio, expect Andrade to come in against Bute in the best shape of his life and give his best ever performance. If Bika only had three weeks to prepare for a fight in which he gave Calzaghe one of the toughest and closest fights of his illustrious career, he had all the time in the world to prepare for Bute, and it showed; the tough, tricky, unorthodox Contender Series winner gave his career best performance against Bute, but it wasn't enough. Bika could count himself grateful the fight wasn't a fifteen rounder, the way Bute was hurting him more and more in the late rounds. When cunning one-punch-KO danger man and former IBF Champion Berrio fought Bute, he also gave his career best performance. Bute took his best punches, hurt him repeatedly and could have stopped him on two-three occasions before he finished him off, in the 11th round. As to Andrade, if against Kessler, overcome by the occasion, he gave a subdued and emotional performance, and managed little more than to enjoy the experience and to win for himself the nickname "Time Collector", along with the respect of everyone in attendance for his toughness and bravery, against Bute, he comes to win, not just to take part. When he fought Kessler, no one gave him much of a chance; he didn't give himself a chance either. Things have changed since then, though. On the back of his only loss against Kessler, Andrade came back stronger and more determined, stopping all his subsequent opponents, including Yusaf Mack (23-1-2) and former two time IBF challenger (31-1-0) Robert Stieglitz. As his performances improved, his confidence and expectations grew too. Now that Andrade has tasted success and big-time HBO PPV exposure on the undercard of Casamayor vs. Katsidis, he has developed a taste for it. On Friday, the "Time Collector" will give his all, confident of his ability and worth, aiming to collect not just nice memories, but also the IBF World Championship belt. Bute himself has grown from strength to strength, too, putting in better performances every time. Expect two fighters at their very best on Friday.

With so much to prove, so much to lose and so much to gain in one fight, one might expect there to be a lot of tension and animosity between these two fighters. But that would be wrong. Perhaps as much as Bute himself, Andrade is a warm-hearted, generous and friendly man, who has a lot of respect for his opponents. Like Kessler before him, Bute was reportedly impressed by Andrade, the man, during the private conversations they had whilst travelling together to promote their fight in and around Montreal earlier this month. During their time together, they didn't talk about the fight, but instead about life away from home, and the hardships they had to endure as young men, fighting to escape their poor surroundings and dreaming of building a better life for themselves and their families back home.

However, despite connecting with Andrade on a human level, Bute will not be fooled by Andrade into a false sense of security. He will know that under the quiet, humble and friendly exterior lies the heart of an ambitious, iron-willed warrior, who wants to be the best and to possess all the riches and acclaim that come with being the best, with only Bute standing in his way. Bute will also remind himself that for Andrade, his trainer and his trainer's promotional outfit, this fight is personal. Lucian Bute trains and is promoted by Interbox. Librado Andrade trains under trainer Howard Grant, at fellow Montreal stable GYM. Grant knows Bute better than any other trainer outside InterBox, having watched Bute's career from start to finish in the flesh. Ever since Bute started to overshadow GYM's own talented Jean Pascal's achievements, GYM have done their best to derail Bute's career. For example, when Sakio Bika came to Montreal to take on Bute in an IBF eliminator for a shot at the title, a challenge that higher ranked challengers like Carl Froch and Denis Inkin inexplicably declined, GYM provided sparring partners, trained, prepared and advised Bika how to go about beating their rival's fighter. Nice, he might be, but Andrade knows the score too. In an interview he gave after settling in, in Montreal, he said he had come to train with Howard Grant at GYM and, specifically, to chase a fight with Bute. In order to achieve his ambition, he targeted and won an IBF title eliminator against Stieglitz and has won himself the status of Bute's mandatory challenger. On Friday, he will get the chance to beat the man he has wanted to beat for a long time, and grant an early Christmas present to GYM too, by defeating Bute. As Bute himself acknowledges, this fight has very much the feel of a local fight; and Bute will not be the only one cheered for at Bell Centre. In anticipation of a possible title unification fight between Bute and Pascal, the good people of Quebec are relishing the substitute rivalry between Bute and Andrade - 15,000 tickets have been sold already.

Two of the very best in an exciting division, giving career defining performances, with much to prove and much at stake, and a clash of styles that is sure to create fireworks in a fight that divides a city! Does it get better than that? Yes, it does! Bute has a KO ratio of over 80%, Andrade – of 75%. Andrade has never been hurt and Bute's never been dropped. Andrade fans have already drawn comparisons between this fight and Margarito vs. Cotto; after all, Andrade is not called "the Margarito of the super middleweight division" for nothing. Bute fans however, insist that despite Andrade's iron chin, huge toughness and strength, Bute might prove to be the first to achieve the seemingly impossible – stopping Andrade. So who will knock out whom?

My prediction? Styles make fights and this one could go either way, but one thing I am pretty sure of - it will be a Fight of The Year candidate.

In the Showtime co-feature, Ronald Hearns (19-0, 15 KOs) will take on fellow prospect Paul Clavette (14-1-1, 2 KOs) in a 10-round junior middleweight bout. Undercard non-televised bouts at Bell Centre, Montreal, include heavyweight Jean-François Bergeron (27-1-0 19 KOs) vs. Dominick Guinn (28-6-1, 19 KOs), middleweight Renan St-Juste (18-1-1, 12 KOs) vs. Argentina's Amilcar Edgardo Funes (18-6-0, 15 KOs), Sébastien Gauthier (14-1, 10 KOs) vs. Paraguay's Dario Azuaga (71-13-2, 60 KOs), Pier-Olivier Côté (3-0-0, 2 KOs) vs. Ramon Tito Esperanza (60-0, 1 KO), Phil Boudreault (3-0-0) vs. Jean Charlemagne (1-7-2) and Eric Martel's pro debut against Stéphane Tessier (3-18-0, 1 KO)

Article posted on 21.10.2008

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