Five keys for Lucian Bute
Plotting a path to victory in Saturday's light heavyweight matchup with Jean Pascal
After being knocked out by Carl Froch in May 2012, former super middleweight titlist Lucian Bute has fought only once -- an unconvincing victory against Denis Grachev in November 2012.
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After a 14-month layoff, Bute (31-1, 24 KOs) will return to action to face former light heavyweight champion and fellow Montreal native Jean Pascal at their hometown Bell Centre on Saturday.
The fight will be Bute's second at light heavyweight and his first against a legitimate opponent in the 175-pound division.
Pascal (28-2-1, 17 KOs) is coming off two consecutive victories after losing his title to Bernard Hopkins in 2011.
Here are five keys for Bute against Pascal:
May the force be with you
|Bute is a fearsome puncher who has stopped more than three out of every four of his opponents at super middleweight. Pascal has power in his right hand, but his knockout rate (54.8 percent) is unimpressive. If Bute, the superior boxer, stays on the move to avoid trouble while also strategically firing power shots, he could stop Pascal early.|
Faster is better
|There are no differences in range that may favor either Pascal or Bute, but speed is a completely different matter. Bute has faster hands and a southpaw stance on his side, which could make Saturday's main event target practice -- from funky angles and above Pascal's guard -- for Bute.|
Wait and seize
|The script for the fight seems obvious: Pascal will start out aggressively, applying pressure, and Bute will wait, hide behind his right shoulder and move to avoid becoming a fixed target. That's why it's essential for Bute to counterpunch and try to hurt Pascal when he gets his chances. If Bute manages to overcome the initial pressure, he should be able to swing the momentum and take control of the fight by the middle rounds.|
|For Bute, controlling the distance should be a primary goal. Establishing the jab is an irrefutable defensive argument to answer Pascal's initial onslaught. Bute should remember the strategy that helped him defeat then-unbeaten Jean Paul Mendy, whom he knocked out in the fourth round in 2011 after controlling him with his jab and left hook.|
Don't think, just fight
|Bute is coming off an injury and a long period of inactivity, and he appeared hesitant and even skittish in his most recent fight. If he just needed an adjustment period after his loss to Froch and long layoff, Bute should be fine. But staying focused throughout the bout is crucial to his success. If he hesitates against Pascal, the story will end quickly (and badly) for Bute.|
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