Lem Satterfield

Friends become foes as Bute defends IBF belt against Johnson

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RING No. 3-rated super middleweight and IBF beltholder Lucian Bute may not only be among the superior fighters in his weight class, but also among the most dominant boxers in the sport.

If the Romanian-born left-hander isn’t stopping his rivals with vicious body shots and uppercuts, as he has with fourth-round knockouts of Fulgencio Zuniga and Librado Andrade, and a third-round stoppage of Edison Miranda, then the Canadian resident completely outclasses them by ridiculous point margins.

The win over Miranda is even more impressive given that Miranda has gone the distance during a unanimous decision loss to current RING No. 10-rated pound-for-pound WBA super middleweight beltholder Andre Ward (24-0, 13 KOs).

But on Nov. 5, the 31-year-old Bute will face the man he claims represents “a major, major step up” in class.

Before his partisan fans at Pepsi Coliseum in a Showtime-televised fight from Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, Bute will pursue his 30th win without a loss, his 25th knockout and his seventh consecutive stoppage victory against the durable 42-year-old former titleholder Glen Johnson (51-15-1, 35 KOs).

“Glen Johnson looks good even if he has lost a fight, because I’ve watched them all,” said Bute, who will make his ninth defense of the belt he won by stopping Alejandro Berrio in October of 2007, and is coming off a fourth-round knockout victory over Jean Paul Mendy in July.

“I can say that by far he is the best opponent with the best credibility and the best resume. His resume speaks for itself. This is a major major step up.”

Known as “The Road Warrior” for his reputation of fighting anyone, anywhere and at any time, as well as for his rugged, in-your-face style, the Jamaican-born Johnson is facing in Bute the first southpaw he will have fought since twice losing decisions to Chad Dawson in April 2008 and November 2009.

Bute is not unfamiliar with Johnson, with whom he sparred nearly 100 rounds two years ago.

“Both of us were preparing for our respective fights. It was hard sparring. It was competitive. We wanted to win every day. I think that I improved my confidence after sparring with Glen Johnson,” said Bute.

“He was preparing for Chad Dawson, and I was getting ready for Librado Andrade. As you know, sparring is always different than a real fight. He’s been training hard for two years, and I’ve been doing the same thing on my side.”

The workouts with Johnson paid dividends for Bute, who twice dropped the steel-chinned Andrade on the way to stopping him for the first time in his career.

Bute had floored Andrade with a short left hand to the chin early in the round before finishing him with a hard, left to the rib cage that dropped Andrade to his hands and knees, where he was counted out.

Bute-Andrade was a rematch of Bute’s unanimous decision victory in October of 2008, which ended in controversy at the Bell Centre in Montreal. In that fight, Bute had to survive a final round near-knockout against Andrade (which he did with some assistance from a long count following a knockdown), whose only previous loss had come by decision against Denmark’s former WBA super middleweight king Mikkel Kessler.

Other than the close call in the initial bout with Andrade, which he won by the scores of 117-109, 115-111, and, 115-110, Bute’s resume is one of total domination.

Before the return bout with Andrade, Bute stopped Zuniga in March, 2009. During two fights in 2006, Bute blew out Andre Thysse, 120-107, 120-108, and, 120-109, and Loleng Mock, 120-109, 120-108, and, 118-111.

In February and June of 2007, Bute routed Sergey Tatevosyan, 119-108 on two judges’ cards, and 120-108 on the third, and Sakio Bika, 118-109 on two cards, and 116-111 on the third.

In 2008 he scored a tenth-round stoppage over William Joppy, who had gone the distance with Bernard Hopkins and Jermain Taylor, and was stopped for only the second time in his career. The other time Joppy was knocked out was against Felix Trinidad in the fifth round in May of 2001.

“Lucian is a great fighter. He has a lot of talent and a lot of skills. He shows a lot of that in his fights. He’s got fast hands and he’s sound,” said Johnson. “So Lucian ranks among the best guys. But this is not sparring, this is fighting, so this is going to be a whole other level of fighting.”

Johnson will be taking part in his third fight at 168 pounds after having fought 22 consecutive times as a light heavyweight. Johnson  is coming off a unanimous-decision loss to WBC beltholder Carl Froch (28-1, 20 KOs) in June in the semifinals of Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic.

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