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RING PASS: Comprehensive preview of Bute vs. Magee
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SKILLS: Both southpaws are boxers who exhibit the polish of having extensive amateur careers. Magee is basic in his approach but well rounded. The Irishman is at his best when he is the aggressor because he is a very good combination and body puncher and he’s rugged. However, his defense is solid, his balance is good and his footwork is underrated. Bute is a more-versatile boxer who can be dynamic at times because of his talent and athleticism. The Quebec-based Romanian can control a fight with a stick-and-move game or by stalking his opponent. Bute’s an intuitive boxer-puncher who usually sees everything his opponent is doing (or is trying to do) and almost always has an answer for it. He’s a strong counter and body puncher and he possesses good upper-body movement. Edge: Bute
POWER: Magee has a respectable KO percentage (63 percent), but it pales in comparison to that of the Quebec star (81.5 percent). Magee has scored a few knockouts over world-class fighters, such as his seven-round TKO of Larsen, but he generally has to grind his opponents down. Bute has shown the ability to turn a fight with a single shot (as he did against Edison Miranda) and he has scored legitimate one-punch knockouts against tough opponents, such as Librado Andrade (body shot) and Jesse Brinkley (head punch). Edge: Bute
SPEED AND ATHLETIC ABILITY: Bute possesses fluid speed and graceful ring generalship that Magee can only dream about. Bute relies on amazing hand-eye coordination and instinctive reflexes as much as he does his technique to set his opponents up for his offense. And when he strikes, he does so with world-class power. Magee is an above-average athlete but not particularly special in any area. Edge: Bute
DEFENSE: Both veterans do a good job of protecting themselves during a fight. Magee does so with the basics: a high guard, slight head movement, a step back or to the side and by occasionally parrying punches. Bute, who often leaves his left hand down, avoids incoming shots with upper-body movement, deft footwork and by occasionally leaning away from them. His cat-like reflexes usually have him out of harm’s way the moment his opponent launches the punch. Edge: Even
EXPERIENCE: Magee has been a pro close to five years longer than Bute, he’s boxed 75 more rounds than the Canadian and he has 11 more bouts under his belt. However, Bute has faced a higher caliber of opponent for most of his career, including RING-rated (at the time) super middleweights Alejandro Berrio, Sakio Bika and Andrade (twice). Edge: Even
CHIN: Magee has suffered his share of knockdowns. He was dropped four times in his decision loss to Robin Reid back in 2004 and once against Jerry Elliot in his previous bout. Magee was knocked cold in the 11th round by Carl Froch, but it was a competitive fight against a man who developed into one of the best super middleweights in the world. Bute has never been stopped but he was down and almost out in the final round of his first fight with Andrade. Edge: Bute
CONDITIONING: Both Bute and Magee are experienced world-class professionals who enter each bout prepared to box or fight for 12 rounds. Edge: Even
WEAR AND TEAR: Magee has more fights, has gone more rounds and he’s been in more-grueling extended bouts -- such as his battle with Froch -- than Bute. Edge: Bute
CORNER: Magee dropped his coach of 21 years (Harry Hawkins) to take on Bernardo Checa, a former junior featherweight standout from Panama who has trained top Irish fighters for years out of Belfast. The result was a seventh-round TKO against Mads Larsen for the European title in January, the best performance of Magee’s career. He looked sharper than ever dismantling Aramyan in his last bout. Obviously Checa is good for Magee. However, Stephane Larouche has been equally good for Bute and the two have many years together, forging a tighter rapport than Magee and his new trainer are likely to have. Larouche is an excellent young trainer, perhaps the best in Canada, where he has worked with numerous world-class fighters. That includes former lightweight titleholder Leo Dorin, former super middleweight beltholder Eric Lucas and 122-pound contender Steve Molitor. Edge: Bute
OUTCOME: Magee knows his first title shot may well be his last, so the 35-year-old veteran will definitely bring his A-game to Quebec. Magee, who will carefully stalk a moving Bute behind his high guard in the early rounds, will have his moments whenever he gets in close. The tough Irishman will pound Bute’s body, hold and hit as much as he’s allowed to and generally attempt to mug the favored titleholder any time gets within arms’ reach. However, Bute will pot shot Magee with accurate power punches from the outside, often while on the move. He’ll bloody Magee’s nose and mark up the challenger’s face before the start of the fifth round. Magee will suck it up and step up his pressure and punch volume in the middle rounds but a well-placed body shot from Bute will bring him to his knees. Magee will somehow will himself to his feet but Bute’s follow-up attack will quickly overwhelm him and force the referee to halt the bout. Prediction: Bute by mid-to-late rounds stoppage.