By Jackie Kallen
What do light heavyweights Lucian Bute and Jean Pascal have in common? First of all, both live in Laval, Quebec, a suburb of Montreal. On Saturday on HBO, the two local favorites will fight one another for the NABF Light Heavyweight title. This will be a huge fight in Canada, with over 20,000 fans expected to attend at the Bell Centre.
Both men were born elsewhere. Bute is from Romania and Pascal is from Haiti. Both are former champions and both were beaten by Carl Froch. This fight means a lot to both boxers. Neither fighter is at the apex of their career at this point and both have been relatively inactive.
They are close in age (Bute: 33, Pascal: 31). They have had a similar number of fights. (Bute: 32 bouts, Pascal: 31.) This fight will come down to conditioning and heart. Who can dig the deepest to pull out the victory?
There are differences as well. Pascal is a smaller man. He has a 72″ reach and is an orthodox fighter. He’s just over 5’10” Bute, on the other hand is 6′ 1 1/2″. He also has a 72″ reach, but is a southpaw. As for power, Bute has the edge there with his 75% KO ratio (compared to Pascal’s 54%.)
There is also the unanswered questions about how much Bute has left after being KOed by Froch in May 2012. Some boxers are never quite the same. He has only fought once since then, beating Denis Grachev in November 2012. A 14-month lay-off can produce a fair amount of ring rust.
Pascal fought only once last year, beating George Blades with a 5th round TKO. Before that, he fought only once in 2012, beating Aleksy Kuziemski in a 10-round decision. Both were activity fights following the loss to Hopkins on 2011. The jury is still out on where his skill level registers in 2014.
This is a good shot for Pascal because Bute may be a shadow of his former self. But he is a strong body-puncher and Pascal has to be aware of that at all times. Pascal is also taking into consideration that Bute had hand surgery last year to remove bone chips in his left hand. The surgery postponed their original fight date in May.
It is assumed that Bute is now healed and ready to go. But the smart money is leaning toward Pascal. If Bute happens to win, he may go gunning for Froch again. Chad Dawson is hoping to fight Pascal again if he can. So there will be some interesting match-ups ahead in this weight class.
I am leaning toward Pascal in this one.