Denis Grachev dragged Lucian Bute into exactly the kind of war that has sunk him in the past, but Saturday night on Wealth TV the popular Canadian transplant stayed afloat, winning an entertaining unanimous decision. There are clearly a lot of leaks in the hull, though, and as a fight meant to shake off the rust from his last defeat to Carl Froch and ready himself for another shot at his conqueror, there was only one round out of 12 that offered any hope that a rematch would go differently.
The matchmaking was adventurous; Grachev is basic, but he's also a light heavyweight who's bigger than Lucian Bute, traditionally a super middleweight. He's also a simulacrum for the two people who have beaten Bute, Froch and Librado Andrade (Andrade functionally knocked him out, anyway, even if Bute got the win on the scorecards): an unpersuadable sort who doesn't give a good goddamn how much you hit him so long as he keeps the pressure on you and makes YOU submit.
Bute controlled the 1st round with superior boxing, even though Grachev cut him along the way. By the 2nd, though, Grachev was finding a foothold, especially with a leaping lead right that he landed automatically, bizarrely. Bute finally adjusted to that and began timing and countering him, but Bute was just too tentative and looked slower than ever, giving Grachev a chance to catch him when he never would've gotten caught before. As the fight went on, Grachev and Bute would trade rounds, with Bute landing the bigger punches and Grachev landing a lot when he would corner Bute on the ropes.
That glimmer of hope for Bute's chances came in the 12th, where Bute finally resembled Bute. He was sticking, moving, slipping, ducking, diving, and landing hard shots at will. And yet, still, Grachev gave him hell. Grachev may have lost this fight (I had him winning, and the 118-110 scorecard for Bute was pure garbage) but he earned another shot at something or the other -- he was more clever than I think he's been given credit for, and his manhood cannot be questioned, the kind of thing that should make him a rough outing for most any light heavyweight, not just a version of Bute whose confidence was shot for 11 of 12 rounds.
If Bute wants the Froch rematch, I still don't think it will go well for him, even with a confidence-building close to the Grachev fight. He did, at least, put on a fun display, so even if he can't hang out with the very top super middles, he'll draw a big crowd in Montreal and put on a show in the ring. Bute might not be who we thought he was when he was climbing pound-for-pound lists, but who he is ain't bad at all.
as much as i wish he did, Bute never did lose to Andrade...only Froch has beaten him. Not sure if that was a typo...
@stickfigure Dangit. I was bad on my correctness in this one. I know what you say to be true, of course, and have modified the post to reflect it.
"I still don't think it won't go well for him"...So it will go well for him? Grachav is in that difficult position. He looked dangerous enough for people not to want to fight him but didn't get the W.
I didn't score it, but I got the impression that Bute was being bullied around the ring by Grachev and not doing anything particularly impressive. It wasn't much of a fight for eye catching punches, at least not until the 12th, but Grachev's volume and ring control should have counted for something.
@ALEXMAC He was landing some very nice sharp counters in a lot of rounds. I think he even hurt Grachev once or twice, but the same goes for Grachev hurting Bute a bit. Overall, ring generalship went to Grachev by a large margin -- the fight was largely fought on the terms he wanted.
I scored it 117-111 Bute. A lot of Grachev's work on the ropes missed. His rind hand landed, but Bute's uppercut and straight left landed cleaner and more effectively. He got some good good tough rounds, which definitely will help in preparation for Froch. His movement was fantastic, sans the time he would circle to his left directly in front of Grachev's right hand. If he brings that movement and a higher work rate, he'll at least be competitive in the rematch.
@xRapHeadx A lot of it missed, sure, but some of it landed, too. I think your scorecard is too wide, but Bute did indeed land the uppercut and straight left cleanly. I thought Bute was not as light on his feet as usual, though, counter your note on his fantastic movement. Anyway, if he fights Froch in the rematch like he did in the 12th against Grachev, it would be ideal for Bute, that's for sure. And maybe he got some confidence out of this win.
@tstarks I thought Bute's circling to his right set up a lot of his punches and kept him out of harm's way mostly. I do think he made mistakes going to his left at times, and Grachev was catching him clean with some reaching rights. That's concerning.