Though not Canadian born, two of the country’s biggest stars will meet to decide who is Canada’s best fighter and simultaneously add their name to the list once more for a potential title fight in the near future.
In fact, when Jean Pascal (27-2-1, 16 KO’s) and Lucien Bute (31-1, 24 KO’s) enter the ring inside The Montreal Bell Center in Quebec on Saturday night, many believe it will mark the country’s most anticipated and grandest mega-fight of all time. North of the border, it truly is that big of a deal.
Oddsmakers opened the former WBC, IBO, and Ring Magazine Light Heavyweight title holder Pascal as a 145 betting favorite and bookmakers are currently serving him up as high as -155. The take-back on Bute, the former IBF Super Middleweight and current NABF Light Heavyweight Champion is +130.
Personally, if planning on backing the favorite you may want to get down sooner rather than later. If you’re gonna get down on the dog, there really isn’t any rush as this line should climb some more before now and fight night.
I always say the sometimes over used quote “styles make fights” is many times right on the money and, in this case, few phrases could sum up the break down any better. Simply put, Pascal is one of the sport’s biggest punchers with the ability to finish fights with one shot and, more importantly, with both hands without even having to set his feet.
It’s a known fact Bernard Hopkins is one of the toughest fighters to knock out and though he got back up, Pascal dropped “The Executioner” (now referred to as “The Alien”) twice in their first encounter.
What makes Pascal such a difficult opponent is he stays on the outside and avoids engaging until he sees an opening, then rushes in with an ambush of combinations, before getting back out of harms way.
Being one of the more mobile fighters in his weight class, coupled with remarkable athleticism, makes this possible even against the very best. His resume is loaded with names like Dawson, Hopkins, and Froch, giving Pascal plenty of experience on the big stage, which Saturday’s fight definitely will be on.
Finally, the knock on Pascal has been his ability to continue utilizing his game plan late in fights. He always starts quickly, putting him ahead on the judges’ scorecards early on. When unable to take his opponents out by the middle rounds, he’s sometimes faded. Therefore, Bute will undoubtedly look to survive the early assault and attempt to take Pascal into deeper waters.
Bute has gotten it done by being the more superior technician throughout his professional career and is almost always going to be the more efficient boxer in his bouts. He prefers to be the hunted by having opponents come to him as Bute fights much better off his back foot than his front.
I reviewed some of both fighters’ previous bouts and, in the case of Bute, I found the majority of his opponents went in looking for him. They came forward and tried to take the fight to Bute but were unsuccessful due to his mobility, most notably the way he moved laterally to avoid getting hit flush. Then he would outbox them round by round and ultimately break them down systematically.
Bottom line: Bute is at a tremendous disadvantage stylistically based on the simple fact Pascal will not be so quick to engage. Therefore, Bute will be forced to go after Pascal and fight moving forward, which is not his preferred approach. I expect Pascal will attempt to hunt Bute from the outside by using his hand and foot speed to avoid confrontation until he sees an opening, in which case he’ll jump in, unload a flurry of combinations, then get back outside quickly.
That should begin to frustrate Pascal, especially as he starts to fall behind with the judges, which could force him to take more chances. Personally, I believe that would be a huge tactical error as Pascal has one-punch finishing power in both hands and since he’s not a reactive fighter, he’ll strictly become the aggressor and most likely finish Bute.
Let’s not forget this fight was postponed due to Bute hurting his hand in training and needing surgery. Though Pascal fought just once in 2013, I believe he’ll be well conditioned, knowing Bute will want to extend the bout as much as possible and test how good of shape he is in.
So with all that said and the fact I made my true line much higher, rest assured while all of the attention’s on the NFL, I’ll be stepping up to the betting window looking to take advantage of all that value on Jean Pascal.
Vegas-Runner, a pro sports bettor in Las Vegas, has been featured on CNBC/ESPN. Follow him on Twitter @vegasrunner, at Pregame.com and on AM 1100 ESPN (also FM 98.9) on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. when he co-hosts First Preview. Contact Vegas Runner at [email protected].