DeGale outlasts tough Bute; Alvarez, Granados win Saturday

The final fight of a long fight day was well worth waiting for at the new Videotron Centre in Montreal.

James DeGale capped off a great day for British boxing with a victory over Lucien Bute in Montreal. Photo: Twitter/ArsenalFC
James DeGale capped off a great day for British boxing with a victory over Lucian Bute in Montreal. Photo: Twitter/ArsenalFC

SAN DIEGO, November 28, 2015 – British IBF super middleweight champion James DeGale (22-1, 14 KOs) made it a big day for British boxing with his unanimous decision victory in Monreal over Romanian born Canadian challenger Lucian Bute (32-3, 25 KOs). It was an action packed, highly entertaning fight, in stark contrast to the bout between new heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and Wladimir Klitschko earlier in Germany.

DeGale could box to win, he’s got plenty of skills. But he isn’t interested in such a thing. DeGale, 29, made no secret his plan was to swarm the older Bute, 35, and blast him with his attack. He boldly predicted a knockout win by the sixth round.

Bute was attempting to work his way back as a player in the division after losing momentum following a loss to Carl Froch in 2012. Bute chose to engage and get right in there with DeGale. He seemed renewed and full of energy, his best in a decade, with age seemingly not a factor.

DeGale suffered a significant cut on the outside of his left eye after the fifth round, ruled an accidental head butt. Later, DeGale said he couldn’t see out of it due to blood and the Vaseline, and it was driving him crazy. DeGale know the scores were likely too close for him to risk the fight being stopped and going to the judges in the challenger’s home country. Bute was proving tougher than he imagined.

Bute was the fresher fighter down the stretch. When he could corner DeGale, he could attack with purpose, setting up with a good jab and do some damage. He won the ninth round this way and started the tenth round exactly the same way.

READ MORE: Fury defeats Klitschko, rocks boxing as the new heavyweight champion

By the final round, the two were on the attack just as hard as they were in the first round, a real tribute to their heart and training. DeGale feverishly tried to stop Bute as he had promised with body work, but Bute would not yield to it as the crowd willed him to fight on.

DeGale’s total output was 211 of 710 punches overall (30 percent); Bute landed 140 of 521 punches thrown (also 30 percent).

Judge Nelson Vasquez scored it 116-112; Canadian judge Benoit Roussel and and Phil Edwards both had it 117-111, with Roussel giving the last five rounds to DeGale.

DeGale called Bute a world class fighter, telling Showtime’s Jim Gray “I’m young, fresh, I’m peaking now. All credit to him, believe me he will be back … I’ve still got to work on things in the gym, but I’m peaking. The next three four years that’s when I’ll be at my best.” DeGale said he would like to fight WBC champion Badou Jack next April with their two titles on the line.

Bute said he did his best in a close fight. “He is the Olympic champion, the world champion. If the judges give him the decision, I respect that. I will get back in the gym, continue to work hard to get back to the top.

“The last three years were difficult for me, after I lost to Carl Froch, very difficult period for me. I take a break, approximately two years, and now I feel great, I feel healthy, and continue to work and to have one more chance to be back at the top.

Bute said in his opinion, he waited too much in a few of the rounds and let DeGale fight; when he put pressure on DeGale and pushed him back, he won the rounds. Despite the loss, fans will welcome Bute back for his next contest.

READ MORE: Premier Boxing recap: Charlo, Spence, Lubin, Karl, Molina get stoppage wins

Montreal based light heavyweight Eleider “Storm” Alvarez (20-0, 10 KOs) became the mandatory challenger for world champion Adonis Stevenson of Montreal with a majority decision win over Isaac Chilemba (24-3-2, 10 KOs) of Malawi now training in South Africa. Alvarez appeared to be in command through the early part of the fight, but Chilemba fought his way back. The fight appeared to be anyone’s victory for the taking, Judge Richard De Carufel scored it a 114-114 draw. Judge Nathan Palmer scored it 115-113 and Judge Peter Hary scored it 118-110 for Alvarez; Hary’s score seemed way off.

“If you prepare right, I had the right team, that’s exactly what happened,” said Alvarez. What does he think about facing Stevenson? “I predict a tough fight. When you’re the champion, you’re the champion. But I am ready to fight and it will be a great fight.”

He may have to wait. Stevenson was seen at the fight speaking with highly regarded light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev and his promoter, Kathy Duva of Main Events. Stevenson told Showtime the pair agreed to a fight in June, but Kovalev wants the fight on his home network, HBO. Stevenson had a serious falling out with HBO, decamping to Showtime.

Main Events posted this photo of the encounter between Sergey Kovalev and Adonis Stevenson tonight in Montreal. Photo: Main Event/Twitter
Main Events posted this photo of the encounter between Sergey Kovalev and Adonis Stevenson tonight in Montreal. Photo: Main Event/Twitter

Stevenson said he’s confident it will happen. He claimed it hadn’t happened because “Kovalev is scared, I know he’s scared. I saw it in his eyes. I’ve got good motivation, I’m hungry to get his title.” This pair have traded social media trash talk including on Saturday before the fight. “Krusher” Kovalev hardly seems afraid. There remain critical details yet to be worked out. It’s the fight everyone wants to see, but don’t take this one to the bank just yet.

It was a tough night for lightweight prospect Amir “Young Master” Iman (18-1, 15 KOs), who met his match and suffered a TKO loss to Mexican-born American Adrian Granados (17-4-2) whose modest record didn’t match up with his tremendous effort in the ring.

It looked like another easy breezy fight for Imam when he dropped Granados in the first round. Granados shook it right off, and came after Imam. He kept applying pressure, and by the seventh round, Imam had a nose bleed and was visibly worn out. In the eighth round, Granados badly hurt Imam with a combination of shots, and referee Alain Villeneuve had enough, stopping the fight at 2:34 of the round. Imam will need to take the lessons he learned in the loss, go back to the gym and get to work. The fight he hoped to get against champion Viktor Postol will be a little farther down the road.

Hometown fans were happy to see heavyweight Oscar Rivas (18-0. 3 KOs) of Colombia now living and training in Montreal remain undefeated with a second round knockout win over last minute challenger Joey Abell (31-9, 29 KOs) of Minnesota, who took the fight on just two days’ notice. Rivas remains undefeated and hopes to get into the heavyweight title hunt.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +

Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.  

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