MONTREAL (Mar. 13, 2009) – International Boxing Federation super middleweight champion Lucian Bute made his third successful title defense with a devastating fourth round TKO victory over Fulgencio Zuniga Friday night on SHOWTIME’s ShoBox: The New Generation from the Bell Centre in Montreal.
The adopted hometown hero dominated from start to brutal finish, landing a powerful left hook to the body that sent the Colombian Zuniga (22-4-1, 19 KOs) to the canvas early in the fourth. Zuniga barely got up to beat the referee’s “10 count,” and once he did he was met with an onslaught of punches from the naturally bigger Bute (24-0, 19 KOs). Against the ropes and defenseless to Bute’s repeated combinations, the referee ended the championship bout at 2:25 of the fourth round.
The Montreal resident, by way of Romania, was cheered wildly by the 12,153 largely Bute supporters as fireworks exploded in the Bell Centre, home of the NHL’s Montreal Canadians. Friday’s fight was promoted by Interbox.
“I felt from the first round that I was better than him,” Bute said. “I controlled the distance and landed the right shots to hurt him.
“I felt that my punch went right through him. I didn’t even think he would be able to get up. Hat’s off to him for trying, but he just couldn’t go on.”
Bute was hoping for a dominating victory to wipe away any doubts that still lingered from his struggles during the 12th round in his victory over Librado Andrade, Oct. 24 on ShoBox. During the fight, the undefeated Bute was knocked to the canvas for the first time in his career. Visibly shaken and hurt, Bute barely made it to his feet, but he beat the referee’s “10-count” to retain his belt on a lopsided decision.
“If he took a half step back with the win over Andrade, then he took two steps forward tonight,” said Steve Farhood, ShoBox’s color commentator. “If nothing else, this fight largely erased what happened in the 12th round with Andrade. Bute again looked like a fighter who could become the No. 1 super middleweight in the world.”
Farhood’s counterpart, Nick Charles agreed: “It was exactly what he needed, a complete domination with a fabulous power finish. He had his way from beginning to end.”
Now, the IBF 168-pound champ has his sights set on the toughest fighters in the 168-pound division, and a little redemption.
“I want to fight Andrade again,” Bute said. “Let’s hope he wins his next fight. It’s not guaranteed.
“But the 168-pound division is full of great fighters and I want to fight the best. I’d go to the U.S. anytime to fight a guy like (Kelly) Pavlik or (Jermain) Taylor. I’m ready to fight anyone.”
While Zuniga was able to get up after the initial body shot that sent him to the canvas, there was no chance of recovering for the Colombian, who’s only losses have come against world champions.
“Unfortunately, he hit me in the stomach and took all the air out of me,” Zuniga said. “I just couldn’t breathe.”
Bute’s preparation was the key in making that “controversial” 12th round against Andrade ancient history.
“I was ready for a 12 round fight and I respected my game plan,” Bute said. “I wanted to give him a lesson in boxing and I did.”
Nick Charles called the action from ringside with boxing historian Steve Farhood serving as expert analyst. The executive producer of “ShoBox” is Gordon Hall with Richard Gaughan producing and Rick Phillips directing.
The next two months feature a jam-packed SHOWTIME Sports schedule, with March and April filled with championship fights and meaningful matchups. Undefeated super middleweight prospect and 2004 Olympic Bronze medalist Andre Dirrell (17-0, 12 KOs) takes on Derrick Findley (13-2, 8 KOs) on Saturday, March 28 in a 10-round super middleweight fight in a special Saturday edition of ShoBox: The New Generation.
Exactly one week later, SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING showcases a world championship unification bout when WBC 140-pound champ Timothy Bradley (23-0, 11 KOs) takes on WBO champ Kendall Holt (25-2, 13 KOs) on April 4 live from the Bell Centre in Montreal.
The following week features the highly anticipated debut of Strikeforce on SHOWTIME on Saturday, April 11 live from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. MMA pioneer Frank Shamrock takes on superstar Nick Diaz, Josh Thomson defends his Strikeforce lightweight title against Gilbert Melendez, female MMA fighters Cris Cyborg and Hitomi Akano battle, and former champ Scott Smith takes on Benji Radach.
Just six days later on Friday, April 17, ShoBox brings fans another world championship fight between Yuriorkis Gamboa (13-0, 11 KOs) and Jose Rojas (25-6-1, 17 KOs) for the interim WBA featherweight title.
The following Friday, April 24 features another spectacular ShoBox world championship fight when WBA/IBF 122-pound champ Celestino Caballero (31-2, 22 KOs) defends his titles against Jeffrey Mathebula (22-1-2, 12 KOs) live from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla.
To top off a spectacular month of April, SHOWTIME gives fans another world championship fight the following night on Saturday, April 25 when WBC super middleweight champ Carl Froch (24-0, 19 KOs) takes on former champ Jermain Taylor (28-2-1, 17 KOs) live from MGM Foxwoods in Mashantucket, Conn.
Friday’s bouts will re-air this week as follows:
Wednesday, Mar. 18 at 10 p.m. ET/PT SHOWTIME TOO
AVAILABLE ON DEMAND STARTING 3/16 AND ENDING 4/12
For more information on “ShoBox: The New Generation” and SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecasts, including complete fighter bios, records, related stories and more, please go to new SHOWTIME website at http://sports.sho.com/
About ShoBox: The New Generation
Since its inception in July 2001, the critically-acclaimed SHOWTIME boxing series, ShoBox: The New Generation has featured young talent matched tough. The ShoBox philosophy is to televise exciting, crowd-pleasing and competitive matches while providing a proving ground for willing prospects determined to fight for a world title. The growing list of fighters who have appeared on ShoBox and advanced to garner world titles includes: Leonard Dorin, Scott Harrison, Juan Diaz, Jeff Lacy, Ricky Hatton, Joan Guzman, Juan Urango, David Diaz, Robert Guerrero, Kelly Pavlik, Paul Malignaggi, Kendall Holt and Timothy Bradley.