By Dave Spencer at ringside
In front of more than 20,000 spectators, former WBC light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal (29-2-1, 17 KOs) scored a twelve round unanimous decision over former IBF super middleweight champion Lucian Bute (31-2, 24 KOs) in an all-Canadian light heavyweight showdown at the at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Pascal rocked Bute in round two with a right hand and was able to impose his will with wild flurries and relentless aggression that overshadowed Bute’s moments. Bute came out second best in virtually every exchange until round twelve when Bute somehow battered Pascal but couldn’t get the stoppage. Scores announced by ring announcer Michael Buffer as 116-112, 117-110, 117-111, however HBO later announced that the official judges scorecards were read incorrectly on-air and the revised final scoring totals were 116-112, 118-110, 117-111.
In his first fight since his brutal war against Magomed Abdusalamov in November, heavyweight Mike Perez (20-0-1, 12 KOs) was lucky to get a ten round draw against underdog Carlos Takam (29-1-1, 23 KOs). Perez suffered a bad cut over the left eye from an accidental headbutt in round three, but trainer Abel Sanchez was able to halt the bleeding. Takam clearly outworked Perez down the stretch. Scores were 96-94, 95-95, 95-95. Ring announcer Michael Buffer never identified who the 96-94 card winner.
Unbeaten light heavyweight Eleider Alvarez (14-0, 8 KOs) won his fight but proceeded to lose the fans with his 99-91, 96-93, 97-93 decision over previously undefeated Andy Gardiner (10-1, 6 KOs). Anointed as the next light-heavyweight in a city that boasts three pretty good ones in Jean Pascal, Lucian Bute and Adonis Stevenson, Alvarez had a chance to leave his mark on a crowd close to 22,000 but instead decided to clown in the final 3 minutes and instead had the noisy throng turn on him quickly. Alvarez was lustfully booed and Gardiner cheered as the scorecards were read, but were never in doubt. Alvarez who has made his way up the ladder in the 175 division and reaching as high as #2 (WBO) but had his hands full with Winnipeg native Gardiner who calls the Nation’s capital Ottawa home. Alvarez controlled things early but Gardiner who was ready to step in as a last minute substitute in 2012 when Alvarez fight with Danny MacIntosh almost fell through showed he wasn’t going to back down, this time working with a full two weeks notice. Gardiner got the attention of the NABO/NABA champ in the 5th, landing a solid left hook to the body and continuing to follow up. He looked to be doing much the same two rounds later but Alvarez produced his best right of the night and finished the stanza with a lethal fury along the ropes. Two pedestrian rounds followed before the final 10th where Alvarez came out fast and strong and followed it up with some clowning and disrespecting an opponent who gave him ten hard rounds on two weeks notice.
It had been over a year since Sebastien Gauthier (22-4-1 14KO) had entered the ring, but it took very little time for the all-action bantamweight to raise the excitement level in the Bell Centre in advance of tonight’s light-heavyweight showdown between Lucian Bute and Jean Pascal. Despite controlling the latter half of the eight round clash with Javier Franco (20-11-3 10KO), the local product had to settle for a 76-76, 76-76 78-74 draw with the only dissenting opinion going Gauthier’s way. It was all action in the early going with Franco landing some blistering combinations and Gauthier not backing down and answering right back. No stranger to blood, Gauthier suffered a cut over the left eye after the first but seemed to have very little effect over the course of the fight. After trading back ands forth for the first half of the fight, it seemed Gauthier controlled things over the last four, but still had to settle for draw.
Undefeated welterweight Mikael Zewski (23-0 18KO) punished Krzystof Szot (18-10-1 5KO) into the 7th round until the Polish fighter lost the will to go on and took a pair of knees and eight counts where the fight was stopped at the :46 mark. Zewski punished the body of his much smaller opponent and when he started landing right hands to start the 7th, a discouraged Szot had no other refuge than to go down for the referee’s count. Szot who had only been stopped once previously also took a knee in the 5th after he lost his mouthpiece. The stoppage for Zewski is 15th in his last 16 fights.
Welterweight Yves Ulysse was both effective and exciting in his pro debut, scoring a TKO victory at 1:52 of the 4th round over Evaggeios Tsirmokos (6-4 1KO) of Belgium. The Montreal fighter got off to a quick start with two knockdowns in the opening round and what can best be described as a takedown in the final stanza. It was more than enough though as Tsirmokos was just holding on and had nothing left when he managed to get back up to his feet.
Heavyweight Oscar Rivas (13-0 8KO) returned to the ring after missing all of 2013 with a 3rd round TKO victory at 2:53 over Shawn Cox (16-5 15KO). Cox was down twice in the second with crunching right hands and was manhandled for the entire third until finally going to canvas once more where the bout was waved off.
With two former light-heavyweight champions taking centre stage and bringing upwards of 22,000 fans into the Bell Centre later on tonight, a new emerging name in the 175 pound division got things underway in Montreal. Artur Beterbiev made it four knockouts in as many tries as he easily handed Gabriel Lecrosnier (16-25-3 1KO) of France his 25th defeat with the time coming at 2:44 with a 4th round TKO victory. A two-time Olympian and a name to watch on the fast-track in 2014, Beterbiev controlled things early and when he and his Lecrosnier started to trade back and forth to start the 4th, it didn’t bode well for the French fighter with 1 stoppage to his credit in 43 fights. Beterbiev scored a knockdown with a strong right and then continued with a series of left hands to the body until the referee stepped in and stopped the proceedings.