Jean Pascal vs. Lucian Bute: Preview and Prediction

Kevin McRae@@McRaeWritesFeatured ColumnistJanuary 13, 2014

Jean Pascal vs. Lucian Bute: Preview and Prediction

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    Jean Pascal vs. Lucian Bute will take place on Saturday night from the Bell Centre in Montreal, and it will be a true crossroads battle for two former champions.

    Pascal, once the recognized light heavyweight champion, has suffered from recurring stretches of bad luck in recent years. Since losing his title to Bernard Hopkins in 2010, he's fought through a slew of injuries and has only been in the ring twice, winning both times against low-level opposition. 

    Bute, himself a former world champion at 168 pounds, will be fighting for the second straight time at light heavyweight. He rebounded from a stunningly lopsided loss to Carl Froch with a decision win over Denis Grachev in late 2012, but he hasn't fought since.

    Here we'll break down the fight and the fighters for you. This is your complete preview and prediction for Pascal vs. Bute!


Tale of the Tape

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    Jean Pascal and Lucian Bute are both former world champions, albeit at different weights, and both men are badly in need of a victory to get another shot at the gold.

    Pascal is the younger of the two fighters, but he'll surrender a couple of inches in height to Bute when they step through the ropes. Despite the edge, both fighters have the exact same reach.

    The biggest edge that Bute possesses is in punching power. He's knocked out 75 percent of his foes, while Pascal has stopped just under 55 percent.



     Jean Pascal

    28-2-1, 17 KO 

     Lucian Bute

    31-1, 24 KO 

    Age 31 33
    Height 5'10.5" 6'1.5"
    Weight 177.25 (Last Fight) 169 (Last Fight)
    Reach 72" 72"
    Stance  Orthodox Southpaw
    Hometown Port-au-Prince, Haiti Pechea, Romania
    Rounds Boxed221210
    Last FightTKO 5 George Blades (9/28/13) UD 12 Denis Grachev (11/3/12)

Main Storylines

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    Jean Pascal has only fought twice since dropping a decision, and his light heavyweight crown, to Bernard Hopkins in 2010. Both of those fights—victories over Aleksy Kuziemski and George Blades—were against low-level opponents, and they came after a series of injuries forced the cancellation or postponement of higher-profile bouts. 

    At 31 years old, the former champion needs a big victory to throw his name back into the suddenly crowded mix at 175 pounds. There are potentially intriguing fights to be had, but a loss here would almost certainly signify his end as a serious player in the division.

    For both fighters, this is something of a grudge match. Each man has made the Montreal area his adopted home, and there are definite bragging rights on the line.

    Lucian Bute, like his opponent, has had struggles with injuries. He missed all of 2013 after an injury to his left hand and hasn't looked overly good in his last few fights. It looks as if Pascal might be getting him at just the right time.

    After being stopped by Carl Froch in May of 2012—losing his super middleweight title in the process—he returned to the ring six months later and struggled mightily to defeat Denis Grachev. In the fight, Bute looked timid and unwilling to let his hands go.

    At 33 years of age, with more than a year of inactivity and a few unspectacular performances, this is a fight Bute must have if he wants to remain relevant. 


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    Jean Pascal is probably best described as a swarming offensive fighter. He likes to go forward, attack his foe and land punches in bunches. When he was at his best, the former champion possessed great hand speed and durability. 

    He has the potential to be an explosive and dangerous puncher, and he likes to dart inside, land his shots and then get back out of Dodge. 

    It should not be forgotten that before his injuries Pascal was one of the top light heavyweight fighters in the world for a reason.

    Lucian Bute has a ton of power, but that often gets overshadowed by his slick operating style in the ring. He has decent enough hand and foot speed, and he moves around the ring well to set up his big power punches.

    His tricky southpaw boxer-puncher style allows him to be offensively aggressive, while limiting his exposure on the defensive end. 

    When it comes to hand speed, Bute is right there with Pascal, and with his superior punching power, this could provide him an advantage.


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    Jean Pascal has always demonstrated two sides of the coin in the ring. He's an aggressive, swarming type of fighter with the ability to overwhelm an opponent. But he has also demonstrated a bad tendency to wear down and become one-dimensional.

    That was on display in full force during his defeat of then light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson in 2010. In the first half of the fight, Pascal's aggression carried the day and built him a substantial lead on the scorecards. But down the stretch, he faded badly and he probably got lucky when a headbutt opened a huge gash on Dawson and forced a premature stoppage.

    Pascal got the verdict that night by Round 11 technical decision, but if he fades badly again in this fight, he could be in trouble.

    Lucian Bute has seen his star fall significantly over his past few fights. Once regarded as possibly the top super middleweight in the world, the former champion has had two straight bad performances followed by over a year of inactivity.

    Against Carl Froch in mid-2012, Bute was blown out of the ring. His chin and defense have long been suspect—he was probably saved by a slow count after being knocked down by Librado Andrade in 2008—and the "Cobra" simply gave him a beatdown.

    In his last fight, Bute was extremely tentative against Denis Grachev. He was reluctant to let his hands go and seemed nervous in the ring. That raises the question of whether he was so badly damaged by the Froch defeat that his days as a top-flight fighter are over.

Jean Pascal Will Win If...

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    Jean Pascal has typically been a fast starter throughout his career, and he likes to jump out of the gate fast and swarm his opponent. That would seem to be a winning strategy in this particular fight, and it's exactly what Carl Froch did to blast right through Lucian Bute. 

    Bute has only fought once since that night, and he looked very shaky and tentative in the ring against Denis Grachev. His confidence seemed to have been shattered, and in a game like boxing, which is often as much mental as physical, that spells all sorts of trouble.

    Pascal should jump Bute at the opening bell in order to check not only his chin but also his mental state. Once a fighter loses his mental edge and no longer seems to really wanna fight, it's extremely difficult to get that back. 

    By attacking early and often, Pascal will be able to make a quick assessment of which version of Bute he's facing. If it's the one who mowed down competition pre-Froch, then we could have an exciting fight on our hands.

    But if it's the version who got blasted by the "Cobra" and then scored a ho-hum victory over Grachev, Pascal could get an impressive victory.

Lucian Bute Will Win If...

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    Lucian Bute is a slick southpaw boxer-puncher who carries great power in both of his hands. He can knock you out to the head or the body, and he's definitely a better ring general than Jean Pascal. 

    His best chance of victory would seem to be controlling the distance of the fight and trying to weather Pascal's early onslaught. If he can do that, and force his foe into the later rounds—where he has a tendency to tire—he could win this fight.

    But that all requires him to not crack under the mental strain of seeing another opponent dash out at him once the bell rings and attempt to unleash hell. He needs to stay focused and patient, and most importantly, not get overwhelmed. 

    If Bute boxes well early, survives the initial storm and wears out his opponent, he could begin to open up offensively in the second half and win the fight by stoppage or on the cards.

And the Winner Will Be...

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    This is a bit of an odd fight, and given all the inactivity and turmoil that has surrounded both fighters, it should be viewed with an understanding that we really don't know completely what to expect.

    Jean Pascal hasn't measured himself against a world-class fighter in almost three years, and the last time he did, he went down in defeat to Bernard Hopkins. But before the injury bug bit him, he was universally recognized as one of the most dangerous fighters in the light heavyweight division. 

    And it just seems that he'll have more left in the tank at this point than Lucian Bute.

    Bute appears to be damaged goods post-Froch. He was a fearsome puncher at 168 pounds, but in his last fight at 175 against Denis Grachev, his punches seemed to have very little steam on them. There's no reason to expect that after a huge beating, a disappointing return and more than a year of inactivity, that he'll return to form.

    Pascal will win this fight. He might start out a little slower than normal, given his own inactivity and the need to feel out a still dangerous opponent, but somewhere around the middle of the fight he'll get his rhythm.

    When he does, he'll swarm Bute and attempt to break him down both mentally and physically, and once his dangerous right hand begins to find a home, he'll succeed.

    Expect a feeling-out period early, followed by Pascal seizing the initiative in the middle rounds and then wearing down Bute for a big win late.

    Prediction: Jean Pascal TKO 9 Lucian Bute