by Sean Crose
F. Scott Fitzgerald once famously claimed there’s no second acts in American lives.
He didn’t say anything about Canadian lives, though. Or Romanian ones, for that matter.
Which brings us to Canadian (by way of Romania) slugger Lucian Bute, a man who is regarded by many fight fans–outside of his adopted home province of Quebec at least–as a “has been.”
Fortunately for Bute, however, famed trainer Freddie Roach isn’t of the same mind as everyone else.
It’s worth noting Roach wasn’t of the same mind as everyone else when it came to Miguel Cotto, either.
And now Cotto may well be enjoying the zenith of his career.
So much for the term “has been.”
The truth, however, can’t be ignored. And the truth is this – Bute needs some work.
The man needs lots of work if he’s to once again rise to the top of the light heavyweight division. This is, after all, one of the top divisions in boxing right now, even more highly regarded than the clunky heavyweight universe.
What’s more, Bute looked positively ghastly in his last outing against fellow popular Quebecer Jean Pascal–at least until the final two rounds, where he seemed to summon up the Bute of old.
Indeed, Bute’s career has been far from impressive since he was thrashed by the brash Brit Carl Froch in May of 2012–ironically after Bute had been signed by the Showtime network to fight the winner of the Super Six tournament, which turned out to be Andre “Son of God” Ward.
Ward hemmed and hawed, and some say even “ducked” the then red-hot Bute, who was then wrecked by the aforementioned Froch, the runner-up to Ward in the Super Six tourney.
Since that time, with a record for the past two-and-a-half years of a dismal 1-2, something just isn’t working for Lucian Bute.
Roach, though, thinks he can fix the problem. And, like Bernard Hopkins, Roach is a guy who can’t simply be shrugged off. He’s just proven the naysayers wrong too many times before. What, though, can Roach do for Bute, a man who many consider to now be past his prime?
For starters, he can get the guy to be more energetic in the ring. Seriously, was Bute on cough medicine during the fight with Pascal? Fighters are supposed to put people to sleep figuratively, not literally. Take nothing away from the talented Pascal, but Bute looked in need of some NoDoz for most of that night.
Roach recently sent Bute to General Santos City to be with he and Manny Pacquiao, while the PacMan trained for the upcoming bout with Chris Algieri. Roach undoubtedly hopes that Bute is a man who is able to watch and learn, for Bute needs to learn to let his hands go again. He could also improve his footwork as well.
If Roach can somehow get Bute to be more aggressive, to sharpen his lazy guard, to stop leading with his chin and to actually employ lateral movement (a la Pacquiao), the light heavyweight division may well have another dangerous competitor on its hands.
In the short-term memory world of prizefighting, it’s an easy thing to forget, but Lucian Bute can be a thoroughly destructive force of nature.
He can hurt people in the ring. He can knock them silly. And his attack can be relentless. What’s more, his body shots are sheer brutality. He can thud to the side like few others. In other words, the guy knows how to lay down a beating.
But a lot of dudes know how to do that. And boxing is a sport, not a barroom brawl. Toughness and violence will only get a man so far in the ring. To rise to the top, what is needed is skill. And some fine tuning in that area is what Roach feels he can give to Bute.
“He really impressed me,” Roach said during a recent media gathering with his new protégé. “He showed me he still has a lot of fight in him.”
Roach’s next words, however, are what really stood out. “We get along very well together,” he claimed.
The six words: “we get along very well together,” should make people take note. For the fighters the sometimes ornery Roach gets along with, namely Pacquiao and Cotto, have a tendency to master the game. Will Bute join such formidable company?
“I’m a very aggressive trainer.” Roach went on. “I like punchers. I love guys who come forward.”
Lucian Bute fits the bill on both counts.
As always, time will tell the tale. Yet, for the moment at least, Roach is confident.
“He’s a very good boxer,” the trainer stated matter of factly, “and I think we go a long way.”