Lucian Bute needs a bounce back fight badly. He's hoping to put on a redeeming performance Saturday night in Montreal vs. Denis Grachev.
Bute was stopped in the fifth round of his last fight by Carl Froch. It was the first time Bute had faced defeat as a professional fighter, and it is always interesting to see how a fighter reacts to his first loss.
When that loss comes via TKO in a lopsided fight, it can weigh on the psyche. Even with the defeat, Bute is 30-1 with 24 KOs to his credit.
That fight was in May and it took place at super middleweight. Now Bute is ready to challenge the unheralded Russian, Grachev at 175 pounds. Grachev is the NABF light heavyweight champion, but it is unlikely that belt is of great significance to Bute.
Many of the best and most lucrative fights for him are still at super middleweight, so the move up is a bit curious.
He's really set things up favorably for himself in this fight beyond the increase in weight. Grachev has had only 12 pro fights, and the bout will take place in Bute's adopted home of Montreal, (he's originally from Romania). Still, it's nice to see him back in the ring so soon after the defeat.
Grachev's record is still spotless (12-0 with eight KOs), but it shows he's had limited boxing experience. He's a former kick-boxing and mixed martial artist who is looking for glory in boxing.
Here's the information needed to watch Bute's shot at redemption and Grachev's chance at boxing notoriety:
When: Saturday, November 3, 7 p.m. ET
Where: Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Live Stream: WealthTV.com
The Book on Bute
Tale of the Tape - (per BoxRec.com)
Weight: 174 lbs. vs. Carl Handy (last light heavyweight bout in 2005)
Alias: Le Tombeur (Playboy or Lady-Killer in English)
One-Punch KO Power
There is no question Bute can punch. Of his 30 wins, 24 of them have come by way of KO or TKO. This destruction of Jean Paul-Mendy is visual indication of how devastating a puncher Bute can be. The power exhibition begins at the 2:50 mark.
Bute keeps his hands down, but he's usually capable of solid defense because of his instincts and reflexes. When he's right, he slips a lot of punches, and he swats away attacks with his left hand.
It is an unorthodox style that not all fighters can pull off, but Bute has obviously had great success fighting this way.
Strikes From Multiple Angles
Because of his unorthodox style and dexterity, Bute throws punches from various angles. His uppercuts, crosses and hooks are equally dangerous. The biggest issue is that many fighters don't see where the punches are coming from.
Devastating Body Puncher
Bute's left-hand hooker-cut to the body is nasty. When he times this punch and lands it, the results can be fight-changing. Here's a video collection of some of his most impacting body blows.
Tendency to Throw One Shot At A Time
When you're accustomed to removing guys with one or two devastating shots, it's easy to get out of the habit of throwing combinations. It looks like that is what has happened to Bute.
He looked lost in the fight with Froch after he landed a few hard shots and Froch wasn't staggered by them. At that point, he looked mentally defeated.
Take a look at the highlights:
Bute's trainer Stephan Larouche says the decreased punch output is an issue that needs to be addressed. He said this to Dave Spencer of fightnews.com:
We realized in the process that Lucian was for three or four fights throwing less punches every fight. Every output of punches was lower and lower. We noticed that, but at the same time, he kept winning.
So was it maturity? Was he picking his punches with more accuracy? In the beginning (of his career), he was throwing 100 punches a round and it was too much. The middle was perfect.
Bute wants a rematch with Froch, per fight news.com, but he'll have to show more mental toughness than he did in their first meeting. Nothing tests a fighter's mettle like adversity, and Bute is in the middle of his exam.
The Book on Grachev
Tale of the Tape (per BoxRec.com)
Height: I've heard his height referred to as 6'1", but nothing official is available.
Weight: 174 lbs. vs. Ismayl Sillakh
Reach: Not listed
Alias: The Pirate
Chin and Toughness
In the bout against Sillakh, Grachev was a huge underdog. That was partially due to Grachev's lack of experience, but the other factors were based on Sillakh's punching power. The Ukrainian had knocked out 14 of the 17 men he'd faced.
He landed some big shots on Grachev, but none of them seemed to faze him.
Grachev has a massive head and notable beard. He is at home brawling, and he's willing to take some punishment to give some. Take a look at the Sillakh fight, the TKO happens at about the 38:40 mark.
Grachev sees a weakness in Bute based on the Froch fight. He told fightnews.com:
I don’t like part that Lucian has already one loss, I like to fight undefeated guys. I think Froch hurt him little bit and he has something in his mind, he knows he can lose again.
Lucian can touch me as many times as he wants; I’m going to punch him hard, and after my punch, you’re going to see the finish.
Grachev has knocked out three-fourths of his opponents, and his style lends itself to good leverage. He sits down on his hooks, and he has the potential to be a big puncher.
Lack of Experience
He is indeed tough and strong, but 12 fights is 12 fights. His lack of boxing experience isn't the first thing you notice about him, but it is definitely visible. He is seemingly getting better with each fight, but this is a significant step up in competition.
Lack of Speed
Grachev is a plodder. He doesn't possess a ton of foot or hand speed. He wants to cut off the ring, and get you to exchange in close quarters. That could be an issue when your opponent won't fight your fight.
Keys to Victory
Le Tombeur must get off to a fast start. The last thing he needs is a confidence shaker early on. Landing his jab and a few power-shots will increase his confidence early.
That should inspire him to increase his punch output as well.
Bute must be careful not to try to please the home crowd too much. Repeated and unnecessary exchanges with Grachev will be opening the door for his opponent.
He should be able to use his jab, length and athleticism to control this fight.
The Pirate must give Bute something to think about early on. If he allows his opponent to get comfortable early, it may turn into a long and bloody night.
Grachev must bang the body to take some of the steam from Bute's punches and his mobility. The best thing he can do is hang around for a late stoppage; if his pressure can wear Bute down.
He's technically outclassed, but his power and toughness shouldn't be ignored.
Bute will win this fight with his overall skill-set advantage. It is hard to see him dropping Grachev with one shot, but a late stoppage based on cumulative punishment and/or cuts is my prediction.
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