Lucian Bute (31-1 24KO) began his comeback trail with a hard-fought unanimous decision victory over contender Denis Grachev (12-1-1 8KO). Bute won by scores of 118-110, 116-112, and 115-113. The 116-112 and 115-113 scorecards better reflect what happened in the fight
Bute was able to control the fight whenever they fought at a distance. He was able to land impressive uppercuts and straight lefts as he moved around the ring. However, Bute didn’t use his jab as much as one would expect and Grachev took advantage.
Grachev, a former kick boxer from Russia, kept the pressure on Bute and at times it seemed that Bute was cracking. He landed great right hands on the Romanian-born Canadian whenever Bute backed straight up or was against the ropes.
As the fight appeared close, Bute stepped it up a notch by increasing his activity and landing many power shots on the granite chin of Grachev.
This victory for Bute kept alive a contracted rematch with Carl Froch, the man who knocked out Bute to earn the IBF super middleweight (168 Ibs.) title. Froch himself needs to get past a fight with Yusaf Mack in order to make the rematch possible.
The cruiserweight division (200 Ibs.) featured a controversial title fight as WBO beltholder Marco Huck (35-2-1 25KO) kept his title with a unanimous decision over Firat Arslan (32-6-2 21KO). The scores read 117-111 and 115-113 (twice) for Huck. Many observers felt that Arslan was robbed.
Arslan took control of the first half of the fight by outworking the younger fighter and landing head-snapping shots. Huck fought back in the middle rounds when he was being pressed and the fight seemed either close or a small points lead for Arslan going into the championship rounds. Arslan fought harder in the late rounds and when the bell rung, many ringside observers and experts felt that Arslan had pulled off the upset.
But, Huck ended up receiving the decision. This isn’t the first time Huck has appeared to be on the receiving end of a gift decision. Last May, he struggled to get a draw against unheralded Ola Afolabi and many people felt that Afolabi had beaten Huck.
Personally, I feel that Huck has received a gift decision from the judges. Arslan landed the cleaner and more powerful shots throughout the night and he pressed the action while Huck seemed to be trying to do as little as possible and yet remain competitive. Huck simply did not look like a champion and I wonder whether he’ll be able to face the top guys in the division such as Yoan Pablo Hernandez or Denis Lebedev.
Only time will tell us.