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Bute, Zuniga final comments!

Photo: Herby Whyne/sportzframe

Photo: Herby Whyne/sportzframe

IBF 168-pound world champion and hometown favorite Lucian Bute weighed in at 167.4 pounds and challenger Fulgencio Zuniga tipped the scales at 167.7 pounds in front of a packed, standing-room-only crowd during Thursday’s weigh in at La Cage Aux Sports in Montreal, Canada. La Cage Aux Sports is adjacent to the Bell Centre, home of the NHL’s Montreal Canadians and site of Friday night’s world championship fight on ShoBox: The New Generation live at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast).

Bute is making his third defense of the 168-pound title he won with an 11th-round TKO over Alejandro Berrio on Oct. 19, 2007, in Montreal, where the defending champion’s last 11 fights have taken place.

Last Oct. 24 in Montreal on ShoBox, Bute dominated the initial 11-plus rounds against Librado Andrade but fell apart late and was brutally knocked down in the final seconds. 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.

Bute (23-0, 18 KOs) did not depart the ring with the look of a winner, which is a reason he must be admired for coming back so quickly against a determined, dangerous slugger like Colombia’s Zuniga (22-3-1, 19 KOs), who is no stranger to hostile environments and whose only defeats were to world champions.

What the two fighters had to say prior to Thursday’s weigh in:

LUCIAN BUTE

Photo: Herby Whyne/sportzframe

Photo: Herby Whyne/sportzframe

“I have a lot of confidence and I had a great preparation for this fight. I think it will be extremely exciting, but I know I will still be the champion after tomorrow night. My first objective is to win tomorrow night. Then I am looking forward to a chance to unify the titles. Hopefully, I will get the chance to fight in the U.S. at a major venue like Las Vegas on SHOWTIME. I would fight Mikkel Kessler or any other champ in my division. I only want to fight the best at 168 pounds. My speed is going to make the difference against Zuniga. I’m going to move around and use the ring to my advantage. I’m going to throw punches from the outside and at all angles. He won’t have a chance to get inside on me. Zuniga is a good fighter, but he is not as quick as I am. That is his weakness and I will take advantage of it. From the Andrade fight, I learned that if I feel tired it is a mistake to stand and trade with an opponent.”

On Questions about the 12th round against Librado Andrade:

“That (12th round against Andrade) is all forgotten. It has not affected me at all. I am concentrating on this fight. Sure, it was the first time I’ve been down, but that’s boxing. Knockdowns happen. I’m not affected by that at all. I had good training and I’m completely over it. I guess the people who doubt or guess me will see tomorrow night how much I am over it. It was exhaustion. That’s what it was. It was a good experience for me and I am a more mature fighter because of it. I have no excuse for what happened that night. I thought I had to finish strong and give it my all for the crowd. I won the fight and that’s all behind me.”

FULGENCIO ZUNIGA

Photo: Herby Whyne/sportzframe

Photo: Herby Whyne/sportzframe

“I sparred once with Bute and I learned enough about him in order to beat him. I’ve been sparring with guys that are the same size as Bute, but they have heavy hands. I am prepared for anything. We know how we are going to fight a southpaw. We’re not worried about his size. We’re going to try to get inside and eliminate his reach. What I learned watching the Andrade fight was that the pressure does work against him. I’m a little more confident because of Bute’s (struggles) in last fight. Bute has already been wounded and hurt. This is very big opportunity for me. I will finish off the work I’ve started. I’m not finished yet. We can win anyway we need to. Knockout. Decision. It doesn’t matter. Tomorrow night, Colombia will have a new world champion.”

STEVE FARHOOD (ShoBox’s Color Commentator)

“To me, the biggest and most obvious story line of this fight is whether there is a lingering effect from what Bute went through in the 12th round against Andrade.

“Remember, Bute was undefeated and had never been down before. There is a possibility that, physically or mentally, he might be an alerted fighter. That’s what this fight is about.”

* * *

Nick Charles and the aforementioned Farhood will call the ShoBox action. The executive producer of ShoBox is Gordon Hall with Richard Gaughan producing and Rick Phillips directing. For more information on SHOWTIME Sports, including exclusive behind-the-scenes video and photo galleries, complete telecast information and more, please go to the new SHOWTIME Sports website at http://sports.sho.com.

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