by Fox Doucette
Back on the horse after his devastating loss to Carl Froch, Lucian Bute (30-1, 24 KOs) takes on Denis Grachev (12-0-1. 8 KOs). Bute will be moving up in weight; this fight is to be contested at light heavyweight for the NABF title that Grachev won from Ismayl Sillakh in an Upset of the Year candidate on Friday Night Fights in April.
In the co-feature, 40-year-old Montreal club fighter Renan St. Juste (23-3-1, 15 KOs) continues his paycheck-collecting ways at the Bell Centre, battling Super Six odd man out Allan Green (31-4, 21 KOs), whose career as a contender is effectively finished after losing three of his last five to the best competition of his tenure as a fighter.
Lucian Bute is either a guy who went from wildly overrated to wildly underrated and is due for a showcase correction of his fortunes against a fighter who is himself overrated…or else he has suffered the knockout loss that will define his decline into obscurity, his “fade into Bolivian” if you prefer. This fight card is a referendum on Groupe Yvon Michel’s handling of the Montreal fight scene, truth be told. If GYM’s signature fighter gets exposed and felled from the good graces of the sport’s elite for good, it will cast a pall of skepticism over North America’s most significant Francophone outpost as a boxing destination. We’ve already seen David Lemieux suffer this fate. Whether Bute can avoid it remains to be seen.
Denis Grachev himself has a great deal to prove. A converted toughman/combat sideshow fighter, his transition to boxing has so far been smooth and unblemished; his stoppage of Ismayl Sillakh changed the conversation at light heavyweight from Sillakh being the Next Big Thing (indeed, the Boxing Tribune named Sillakh our Fighter to Watch in 2012) to a guy picking up the remnants of his own career.
Grachev got dropped in the third round of his fight with one Romanian before storming back and exposing the very same flaw that Carl Froch found and attacked to such devastating effect in a fight with a Romanian of his own. Much has been made of Froch-Bute II as a 2013 Fight of the Year candidate, but Denis Grachev is closer than people think to monkey-wrenching those plans. We have seen that a questionable chin and suspect defense is a recipe for a KO loss to the Russian; will Lucian Bute see lightning strike twice against him?
Meanwhile, the co-feature is a literal “has-been and never-will-be” matchup. Allan Green is playing the has-been, with losses to Andre Ward, Glen Johnson, and Mikkel Kessler defining his ceiling as a fighter and showing the world that Green is not to be taken seriously as a contender. His only win of any real note recently was against Sebastian Demers, not exactly Sugar Ray Robinson in there. Green’s continued collection of Quebecois charity leaves one to wonder if perhaps Adonis Stevenson is next on the Cavalcade of Stars who so often populate Lucian Bute undercards in Canada. As long as Green’s getting a paycheck, that might be the point. He’s sure not winning any titles.
Renan St. Juste is playing the never-will-be, a 40-year-old fighter with three losses and no particular note in the rankings (Boxrec has him No. 32, and no major organizations with a shred of credibility take St. Juste seriously—any notoriety granted him by the IBF notwithstanding thanks to his promotional outfit, St. Juste is a nobody.) He beats up good fighters, gets beaten up by very good or great fighters, gets out of the ring, and lets the main event proceed.
So what you have there is a recipe for a possibly but not-likely entertaining but ultimately insignificant scrap. Allan Green has an unfortunate tendency (shown to utterly boring effect in the Andre Ward fight) to turtle up when he is under real threat. Renan St. Juste is not Nonito Donaire, nor is he Andre Ward. If he hurts Green early, he doesn’t have the finishing ability to put an end to the fight. He’ll carry Green through the end of that contest and claim his unanimous decision.
The wild card here is that St. Juste might not be as good a fighter as Sebastian Demers, in which case Allan Green will stomp him into dust in a fun if one-sided fight, probably the best-case scenario for fight fans. Fans looking for entertainment should be cheering for Allan Green to fight well.
This fight card is Saturday night, November 3, at the Bell Centre in Montreal; check the Boxing Tribune’s excellent new TV listings panel on the front page for time and channel in your area. Stay tuned for this week’s Southpaw column for a more in-depth look at Yvon Michel if you are interested in the Montreal fight scene.
Fox Doucette covers Friday Night Fights for The Boxing Tribune. His weekly column, The Southpaw, appears on Thursdays. He thinks Bute will get back on the horse with a big win this week…and probably just consigned him to a KO defeat by saying so. Fan mail, hate mail, and fighters you want cursed by my predictions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.