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RING Pass: comprehensive preview of Bute vs. Johnson

MEET THE FIGHTERS

LUCIAN BUTE

THE ESSENTIALS

Age: 31

Height / Reach: 6-2 (188cm) / 70 (178cm)

Stance: Southpaw

Hometown: Montreal (from Romania)

Nickname: Le Tombeur

Turned pro: 2003

Record: 29-0 (24 knockouts)

Trainer: Stephane Larouche

Fight-by-fight: click here

The Ring rating: No. 3 super middleweight

Titles: IBF super middleweight (2007-present; eight successful defenses).

Biggest victories: Alejandro Berrio, Oct. 19, 2007, TKO 11 (wins super middleweight title); Librado Andrade, Oct. 24, 2008, UD 12; Andrade, Nov. 28, 2009, KO 4; Edison Miranda, April 17, 2010, TKO 3; Jesse Brinkley, Oct. 15, 2010, KO 9; Brian Magee, March 29, 2011, TKO 10; Jean Paul Mendy, July 9, 2011, KO 4.

Losses: None.

Biography: Lucian Bute was a very good amateur fighter for his native Romania, peaking with a bronze medal in the 1999 World Champions. No one forsaw the talented southpaw’s profound success as a professional, though.

Bute relocated to Montreal to begin his pro career in 2003 and, under trainer Stephane Larouche, quickly established himself as a sizzling-hot prospect. The athletic boxer-puncher knocked out his first 15 opponents, which caused a sensation among the passionate boxing fans in his adopted homeland who are now devoted to him.

And he continued to win even as his stepped up his competition. Bute easily outpointed tough Sakio Bika in 2007 to earn a shot at his first major title less than four years into his pro caeer, against IBF super middleweight titleholder Alejandro Berrio later that year in Montreal.

Bute didn’t disappoint, building a big lead on the cards before hurting Berrio with a short left and follow up flurry that ended matters in the 11th round and sent the packed crowd at the Bell Centre into a tizzy.

The young champion faced his biggest challenge two fights later, against Librado Andrade in 2008. Bute dominated the rugged Mexican but ran out of gas in the final round, opening the door for some last-second drama.

Bute was taking a beating the final minute of the fight, barely able to remain upright, when Andrade put him down with about 10 seconds to go. With the result in the balance, though, the depleted titleholder somehow staggered to his feet and was standing when the final bell sounded.

Some suggested that Bute was out on his feet and should’ve counted out. Others said he benefited from a long count. Bottom line: He emerged victorious and survived his last major challenge.

Bute adjusted his training after the near disaster against Andrade and hasn’t been seriously tested in four subsequent fights (including a KO of Andrade in a rematch), establishing himself as one of the most-marketable fighters on the planet.

Bute (27-0, 22 knockouts) decided not to take part in Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic, a super middleweight tournament that concludes with the Andre Ward-Carl Froch fight on Dec. 17. After signing a multi-fight deal with Showtime last November, he is expecting to fight the tournament champion in what would be a monumental event.

In the meantime, he has continued to win. He stopped rugged Brian Magee of Northern Ireland in 10 rounds in March in Montreal and KO’d Jean Paul Mendy in four rounds in July in Romania, the latter victory being the eighth defense of his title.

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