Jean Pascal Untroubled By Vacant Lucian Bute

(Jean Pascal bloodies Lucian Bute; via)

It would be wrong in a couple different ways to say that Jean Pascal beat Lucian Bute on HBO Saturday. He got the victory, certainly. But Bute practically handed the win to him, save for one final 12th round flurry, so the active verb of “beat” doesn’t really apply. And Pascal beat a version of Bute that was nothing like the man who once was the body punch KO king of Canada, so Pascal didn’t really beat the “real” Bute.

The unanimous decision victory — by scores of 116-112, 117-110 and 117-111 — was a lackluster affair, one that was unworthy of the rabid audience of 20,000-plus in Quebec that made this one of the biggest all-Canadian match-ups ever. Bute really didn’t show up. He fought scared, like a man who was already checked out of the sport and whose primary motivation was to avoid getting hit.

Now, Pascal is a sloppy-ass Roy Jones, Jr., clone, and even had Jones in his corner for this fight. He is not, however, to be disregarded entirely. You don’t hang with Bernard Hopkins twice if you are totally terrible, and you don’t beat Chad Dawson if you are totally terrible, and you don’t beat Adrian Diaconu if you are totally terrible and you don’t hang with Carl Froch if you are totally terrible. He has stood up well to the best of this era of light heavyweights and super middleweights, and to say he sucks is to say almost everyone at light heavyweight sucks. Which you can do, for sure, and you might be right if your measuring stick is all-time or past glory eras. Point being, Pascal, for all his wild swinging right hands and off-balance bullshit that worked again against Bute Saturday, has figured out how to get the job done. He deserves credit for that, and him sucking doesn’t explain how he keeps getting the job done.

But to be doubly clear: Bute was almost ethereal in there Saturday. He barely existed. I gave him three rounds, more than some. The 12th round was the only one he truly deserved. He came out like the fearsome boxer he once was, not the man who was castrated by Carl Froch. And Pascal, for some reason, decided to spend a long portion of the final round bured in a corner and taking shots. Later, he said it was to sell a rematch; but if you are deliberately taking punches to sell a rematch as competitive, and then announce as much, you undermine the whole point. So there’s at least a chance that Pascal was truly hurt. Which makes Bute’s performance all the more frustrating, because it meant that he could’ve made a fight of it all along.

The rematch doesn’t interest me. Bute should consider retirement. Pascal should make a mega-mega-Canadian-fight with light heavyweight king and fellow Canadian Adonis Stevension. Stevenson-Sergey Kovalev is a much better fight, but when there’s this much domestic money on the table it’s hard to argue against Stevenson-Pascal first. With Stevenson-Andrzej Fonfara apparently up next, that would put Stevenson-Pascal a while away.

Pascal-Bute was disappointing, no two ways about it. But I personally didn’t have high expectations for a fun brawl. Rather, the appeal of the fight was the rivalry, the style clash, the uncertainty about the outcome. it’s a reminder that fan demand is based on more than mere expectations of pure action. But by any standard, the bout came up short, save a final stanza that was hard to make sense of.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board ( He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.