Canada’s Bute revives boxing career despite loss to IBF champion DeGale

Canada’s Bute revives boxing career despite loss to IBF champion DeGale

Main pic: Lucian Bute reacts when they announce his loosing in a fight for Super Middleweight IBF world championship against James DeGale, in Quebec City, on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015. DeGale won the bout. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot. 

QUEBEC — Lucian Bute felt like a winner even if the judges gave champion James DeGale the unanimous decision.

Bute (32-3-0) had been all-but written off during three unimpressive outings after a crushing loss to Carl Froch three years ago, but looked like a brand new fighter in what looked like a close bout early Sunday morning with DeGale (22-1-0), who retained his IBF super-middleweight title.

British judge Phil Edwards and Canadian Benoit Roussel each had it 117-111 and Puerto Rican Nelson Vazquez had it 116-112, all for DeGale. The Canadian Press had it a 114-114 draw.

“I think it was a very close fight,” said 35-year-old Bute. “”I wouldn’t be so pretentious as to say I won the fight, but when a guy runs nearly every round and the judges give him most of the rounds, I’m a little skeptical.

“I’ll go home and watch the fight with my team and we’ll see exactly what happened.”

The 35-year-old Bute held the IBF belt for five years before Froch left him swollen and dazed in the ropes in Sheffield, England in 2012. Many felt he should retire, especially after losing to Montreal light heavyweight Jean Pascal last year.

But Bute kept at. He started working with a new trainer, Howard Grant, and looked like a completely new fighter against DeGale. He abandoned his former — almost elegant style — for that of a predator, always in motion and moving in on the attack.

DeGale, the 2008 Olympic champion who made a first defence of the IBF title he won in May from American Andre Dirrell, landed an early combination that may have been too much for the old Bute, but the new one shrugged it off and kept chasing the champion.

DeGale spent much of the fight backing up, but landed a lot of shots during their frequent exchanges. The Showtime network said DeGale threw 524 power punches to Bute’s 278. They combined for more than 1,000 punches, a total expected from much smaller fighters.

The 28-year-old Degale had to get a cut over an eye stitched and then go to dope testing after the match and was not available for comment.

But he told Showtime: “I’m young and I’m fresh. I’m peaking right now. I’m ready for the best in the world. Credit to Bute – he’s a great champion and believe me, he will be back.”

The crowd of 8,624 in the lower bowl of the recently opened Videotron Centre got behind Bute as soon as he showed he was ready to stand in and fight. They loudly booed the judges’ scores.

“I’m very happy with my performance,” said Bute. “I proved that Lucian is back, that he’s not finished as a boxer, like a lot of people thought.

“After three difficult years, I proved that’s not true. I will keep working and going to the gym. I feel that even though I lost the fight, I was the winner.”

The co-feature saw Eleider (Storm) Alvarez (19-0-0) of Montreal win a majority decision over Malawi native Isaac Chilemba (24-3-2) in a close-fought light heavyweight battle between two champion jabbers. One ringside judge had it 114-114 while the others scored it 118-110 and 115-113 for Alvarez.

Alvarez, a Colombian based in Montreal, becomes the mandatory challenger to WBC champion Adonis Stevenson of Montreal.

Meanwhile, at ringside, Stevenson and Russian Sergey Kovalev had a brief chat and Kovalev later tweeted about a possible unification showdown in June. No other details were mentioned. Kovalev’s camp has accused Stevenson of ducking tough opponents.

Stevenson is WBC champ, while Kovalev has the titles from the other fight sanctioning bodies.

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press

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