By T.K. Stewart
On Saturday night in Quebec City, Lucian Bute and Librado Andrade will meet again for Bute’s IBF super middleweight title belt. It’s a rematch of a thrilling fight from Oct. 2008 when, well ahead on the scorecards, Bute was nearly knocked out in the dwindling seconds of the twelfth and final round.
Lost in the ballyhoo of Manny Pacquiao’s dominant victory over Miguel Cotto and the recent talk of Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic super middleweight tournament, is the fact that Bute vs. Andrade II has the set the box office on fire in a chilly Canada.
"The tickets sold out in less than one hour of going on sale," said Golden Boy CEO, Richard Schaefer on Tuesday afternoon.
When asked what a sell-out meant and how many people the Pepsi Colisee holds for boxing, "16,000" was Schaefer’s one word answer.
It’s a shocking number considering that more tickets have been sold for this fight than were sold for recent pay-per-view events that featured Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.
The number of tickets purchased by Bute’s loyal fans speaks to his amazing popularity in the province of Quebec. While boxing has nearly drowned in the mainstream in the United States – it is alive and thriving in other parts of the globe. It proves, even in a far outpost such as Quebec City, which is located on the often frozen shores of the St. Lawrence River, that if a fighter is developed into a regional attraction before being taken nationwide or worldwide it can result in a lucrative payback.
Bute is a solid as ice superstar in Quebec. His first fight with Andrade also sold in the vicinity of 16,000 tickets and he has filled Montreal's Bell Centre on other occasions..
"It shows you how big Lucian Bute is in Canada," said Schaefer. "It shows you he is one of those fighters that can pack a house."
Andrade is also somewhat of a favorite in the Great White North. It will be his fourth appearance in Quebec and for this fight he trained in Montreal with trainer Howard Grant who is based in the city.
"Andrade spends a lot of time in Canada," said Schaefer. "He really considers that his second home. This fight is not going to start with round one, it’s going to be round thirteen."
The fight also represents the first time that HBO will broadcast a fight from Canada on its airwaves. It will be televised on "Boxing after Dark" along with the lightweight title fight between Ali Funeka and Joan Guzman.
Interbox CEO Jean Bedard, who promotes Bute, was positively glowing with all of the positives that are emanating from this fight card.
"We’re very excited about this rematch," he said. "I think that Librado deserved the rematch. The city and fans have been waiting for this for the past year. We’ll have a chance to do it in front of a sell-out crowd of 16,000 people and that will make it extra special."