After a long and extended delay, perhaps the highest profile fight in Canadian boxing history has finally ended. A fight that seemed inevitable has finally occurred despite the roadblocks. The fight itself turned out to be an underwhelming affair after all the accolades leading up to it. Lucian Bute held sturdy and was not stopped like many of his detractors declared would happen but he lost in a way that many could not expect. He lacked offensive urgency, his uppercut to the head and viscous liver shot never once became a factor. Bute had several sharp jabs and some occasional left hands.
Then suddenly in the final three minutes Bute assaulted Jean Pascal with everything in his arsenal. A first it was hard to tell if he was playing possum because Pascal then jumped out and sprung into attack. Then, Bute went back onto the assault once again until the end of the round. When the fight was over and the twelve rounds were completed there was no doubt about who would win and the right man was given the nod on the scorecards by margins of four points on one card and seven on the other two.
It would be easy to say Bute laid an egg or just was a hype job but that is a simplistic approach that takes away so much from Pascal’s solid performance. Jean Pascal fought a solid fight and did not tire or lose his way after the early goings like he did versus Carl Froch, Bernard Hopkins twice and Chad Dawson late. Pascal attacked in aggressive ambush like bursts inside. Many times he attacked in the clinch with the free right hand. Surprisingly, he even out punched Bute to the body and utilized both hands. Pascal kept a wide stance and was not going for the feints that Lucian Bute was using to draw mistakes from Pascal. Pascal fought a disciplined match and displayed sharp right hand counters and even got in hard uppercuts, a usual Bute signature. Bute managed a good left to the liver area in round five that did not seem to do much damage. With the help and motivation of Roy Jones Jr in his corner Pascal fought a very focused fight and a much improved performance in comparison to his last few outings.
For Jean Pascal there are many options available at the weight class as light heavyweight has suddenly become a very interesting division. He can fight either Adonis Stevenson or Sergey Kovalev who are the two clear best fighters in the division and appear to be on a collision course with each other. If that fight cannot be made Jean Pascal has made himself a new commodity for both men, especially Stevenson, who could produce another Canadian mega fight. Another potential fight of interest could be a third fight with Bernard Hopkins for a chance at revenge and a world championship belt. Pascal looked sharp and disciplined tonight and if he performs in the nature he did tonight he could very well be a major force to be reckoned with. Hopefully this is just a sign of more to come and not a flash in the pan night for the former Ring Magazine Champion.
As for Lucian Bute the aftermath is a very different story. Bute lacked the ability to get off with his left hand. Early on he kept a very patient fight and looked like he was waiting to counter and attempted to use feints to get Pascal to open up and make mistakes to capitalize on. He did counter with the left hand to the head early when Pascal would throw single right hands to the body. Eventually, Pascal adopted by throwing more punches in controlled assaults and Bute stayed limited to single shots and playing the waiting game. Bute lacked urgency necessary to put a stamp on the fight but seemed unable to figure out Pascal’s defense. Pascal kept himself focused and well postured to defend against Bute’s left to the body and the right hand and explosive counters kept Bute at bay. On one hand Bute appeared to lack the mental state to do what he needed to do to win but on the same token also lacked the ability to adjust and overcome the difficulties presented with him. The twelfth round was a lone moment of redemption as he put on a great attack to the head and body doing what he used to do best. He landed the left cross, left uppercut, right hook, and an array of body shots. However, it was just not enough and was reminiscent of Julio Caesar Chavez Jr versus Sergio Martinez minus the knockdown but the circumstance and intense exchanges were similar. Where Bute goes from here is very uncertain as he may have to yet again rethink his career. This time he should probably have a shorter layoff and should definitely fight a softer touch, he needs a confidence builder. Considering the layoff without a tune up going into this fight may just have proved disastrous.
The opener seemed like it was going to be a forgettable one as the first three rounds saw very little action. The heavyweight contest pitted two relocated fighters in late starter Carlos Takam born in Cameroon fighting out of France and Mike Perez born in Cuba and fighting out of Ireland. A cut on the right brow of Perez opened from an accidental head butt in the third round and neither man got particularly desperate despite facing a possible no contest. Then suddenly the fight picked up. The much larger Takam spent the early goings backing away from Perez and trying to box the former Cuban amateur and the perceived better boxer. Perez appeared to be ahead after five rounds as the fight remained at a slow pace with no real engagements. In round six the fight became stationary and toe to toe and Takam began to dig to the body and work in the uppercut.
After a slow start the fight began to build in excitement as Carlos Takam began to become the stalker and applied great amounts of pressure. He brought a left hook to the body around the guard and a right uppercut to the body under the guard. Takam also brought a chopping right hand to Perez’s head. Perez early used a sweeping left hand to get around Takam’s guard but he was unable to hurt the Cameroonian fighter and was unable to reestablish control of the bout definitely losing round six on. Perez also made critical mistakes by backing straight out and getting caught by long right hands of Takam. One such example could be seen in round ten where he caught Perez solidly with a straight right hand and poured it on until the end of the final round. Round six saw Perez in possibly the most trouble he was in during the fight when an uppercut shook him up and was followed by a strong left hook. An overhand right snapped Perez’s head back and the bell came to the rescue. At the end of the fight it was clear that Takam had won the last five and he also won at least won one of the first five and probably should have won. While the draw is not a terrible robbery, Takam should have had his hand raised.
Carlos Takam resembled a larger Jean Marc Mormeck in his appearance and fought an eye opening performance. While it’s tough to say if the Takam team planned the early boxing and late run by design, the hard to believe strategy or adjustment paid off. He felt out Perez and limited his offense. Once Takam realized Perez could not hurt him he sprang into attack and never let up. Hopefully Takam’s efforts earned him something down the line as he showed plenty to be pleased with. Having won in this author’s eyes tonight and having beaten veterans in Michael Grant and Franz Botha he may be someone to watch for. He showed lots of competence and depth in his game tonight. He moved and jabbed early and even showed a tight defense rolling with punches and countering. He showed a varied punch selection using a straight and overhand right as well as a hard right uppercut to the head. He also dug in hard and constant left hooks to the body and sometimes to the head. As the fight drew on he also put more leverage into his clubbing shots. A draw is a hated result in boxing but if there was ever a good draw this was a good draw for Carlos Takam despite having him ahead at the conclusion of the scheduled ten rounds.
For Mike Perez there is lots to consider and wonder about in regard to his odd performance. Abel Sanchez commented afterwards that something was wrong with Perez after the head butt and that he lost focus and went through the motions. This was also his first fight since being involved in a tragic fight with Magomed Abdusalamov which left Abdusalmov in a coma that he has yet to recover from. Perez was also on the receiving end of some very brutal blows in that same fight. Maybe physically and mentally something was taken out of him by the fight. However, Takam earned this fight and there is no way anybody can take away from his performance considering the depth he displayed. Mike Perez came up short tonight and showed some problems tonight but he was in no way exposed. Perez is a fighter of great potential but looks like he needs to shed some of his amateur style and adopt some professional wrinkles to his game. Hopefully he can rebound and become the fighter we all believe he can be.