Michael Rosenthal

Jean Pascal was good but not special: Weekend Review

BIGGEST WINNER

Jean Pascal: Pascal re-established himself as a major player in the light heavyweight division by easily outpointing a strangely inactive Luce Bute on Saturday in Montreal. That said, Pascal wasn’t particularly impressive. He did enough to win most rounds by punching in fierce, but relatively few flurries, perhaps to preserve energy. He clearly was the quicker, more athletic boxer. But he also went long, boring periods doing very little or throwing single punches. He looked somewhat like what colleague Doug Fischer called “a poor man’s Roy Jones Jr.," who worked with Pascal before and during the fight. It was a weak imitation. Pascal has nowhere near the ability, speed or power a prime Jones possessed. Indeed, the margin of victory on Saturday undoubtedly had as much to do with Bute’s pathetically weak effort as Pascal’s performance. Pascal (29-2-1, 17 knockouts) deserves credit; he did more than enough to win an important fight in his home region. That’s the goal. At the same time, he didn’t dazzle anyone. Adonis Stevenson would destroy him.  

 

BIGGEST LOSER

Lucian Bute: Bute (31-2, 24 KOs) was one of the hottest fighters in the world only three fights ago. Two poor performances and a shaky victory over a second-tier fighter later, he is a fringe contender at best. Am I shocked? Not really. Bute went into his fight against Carl Froch in May 2012 largely untested and was blown out in five rounds, a clear indication that he wasn’t as good as many of us thought he was. And his performance against Pascal seemed to indicate that he agrees with my assertion. Bute fought skittishly, as if he was afraid of getting hurt. That would explain why he didn’t let his hands go enough to make the fight competitive. He obviously doubts his own ability. And a fighter who doubts himself has no chance to succeed, especially at the highest level of the sport. If Bute wants to continue fighting – and retirement is a reasonable option for him – he might want to rebuild his confidence against lesser foes for a while. The Bute we saw against Froch and now Pascal simply can’t compete with the best in the business.

 

RABBIT PUNCHES

The Mike Perez-Carlos Takam majority draw on the Pascal-Bute card was strange: Perez (20-0-1, 12 KOs) won the first six rounds, Takam (29-1-1, 23 KOs) the latter six. Perez seemed to fall asleep at the same time Takam woke up. Perez was coming off his fight against Magomed Abdusalamov, who ended up in a coma. Perhaps that played a role in Perez’s performance. He also was cut badly in the third round by an accidental head butt, which might have affected him. I think Takam was the main reason the momentum shifted. The France-based Cameroonian simply went to work in the second half of the fight, outpunching and outlanding his more experienced opponent. Perez remained a heavyweight contender. Takam probably joined him as a result of his spirited effort. … The good news for Ivan Redkach (16-0, 13 KOs): He engaged in what for him was the perfect matchup Friday in Memphis, Tenn. The hot Ukrainian prospect had to work for every point that gave him the unanimous decision over a tough, capable opponent in Tony Luis (17-2, 7 KOs). It was the kind of fight that serves as a valuable learning experience. The bad news: Redkach seems to have a long way to go, particularly in terms of his defensive skills. … If you missed the Frank Galarza-John Thompson fight on the Redkach-Luis card, you should check it out. Hell of a second-round knockout by Galarza (12-0-2, 8 KOs). Thompson (14-1, 5 KOs) probably was the hotter prospect going into the fight.

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