By Cliff Rold

October’s highest profile fight wasn’t particularly anticipated and while the Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall was full, the anemic Pay-Per-View numbers should serve as a slap in the face to corporate interests about the difference between delivering what fans want and trying to dictate it.

It should also serve as a reminder that narratives end once the bell rings.

World Middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik was supposed to be Boxing’s next big thing.  He might still be as time plays out.  A bad loss to a great veteran having a great night isn’t as bad as it looks and Pavlik has established foes at Middleweight and Super Middleweight available in 2009 to overcome what was easily, to date, his worst night.  For now though, the story being built and told took a page turn most weren’t predicting.

There were others with good and bad nights, good and bad fights, as there is every thirty or so days. 

This is the month in review.

Fighter of the Month:  Bernard Hopkins

For this month, and for all time, Bernard Hopkins will have October 18th as perhaps his finest accomplishment.  Conceding some 17 years of age, Hopkins spit on notions that he’d lost his fastball.  Even without a substantive live audience on television, word of mouth spread like wildfire amongst and beyond fight fan.  Hopkins still had it; Hopkins was still Hopkins.  Pavlik got the bad news for all of the fights 47 minutes at mid-ring and in the corner.

Hopkins shutout win (and it was a shutout no matter that a couple judges felt charitable) was more than a notch on an old gunslinger’s belt.  It was a fight that forced yet another adjustment in how the old man is rated historically.  Was it the best ‘over-40’ win ever?  Probably, but more importantly it was the finest performance by a 40-plus year old former Middleweight champion outside Ray Robinson being jobbed to a draw in his third fight with Gene Fullmer.  Anyone who doesn’t think Hopkins-Robinson is truly worthy comparison in the pantheon of Middleweight greats isn’t viewing the world in full Technicolor.

Where Hopkins goes from here will be fascinating.  He’s clearly going to have an interest on November 8th as a Roy Jones upset of Joe Calzaghe sets up the biggest money possibility left to him.  He earned the right, in the ring, to stay relevant against Jones or anyone else.  43 ain’t what it used to be.

Neither is age 37 and deserving of special mention here as well is the man who otherwise would have held top honors for October.  No, Heavyweight Sam Peter was not held in the same esteem as Pavlik, but he also was no slouch, easily no worse than the third best Heavyweight in the world before the return of Vitali Klitschko.  Klitschko’s ease in dispatching and forcing a quit from the Peter corner for the WBC belt after eight rounds was remarkable stuff from a fighter out of the ring since December 2004 and merits at least fair mention here.

Fight of the Month:  Lucien Bute-Librado Andrade

Hardcore U.S. fans smiled when Showtime picked up the rights to what otherwise would have been a fight heard of but largely didn’t see.  When it was over, there were cries of controversy but the smiles had to remain.  Bute-Andrade was a war of the Julio Cesar Chavez-Meldrick Taylor vintage, dramatic and violent until, literally, the final seconds with complimentary officiating controversy.

As described after the fight here at BoxingScene by Jake Donovan (https://www.boxingscene.com/?m=show&id=16596):

The capacity crowd sought any excuse to erupt and Bute gave them plenty of reason to roar. A series of one-two’s midway through the opening round provided the first hint of things to come for much of the night. Another important strategy was established early: Bute’s plan to fight from the outside, and smother Andrade the moment he began to creep his way inside.

Andrade tried to make a fight of it in the second, letting his hands go early in the round but finding little success against the technically superior Bute. Less emphasis was placed on scoring opportunities for the transplanted Romanian, using his jab as means to maintain distance while focusing more on defense.

The same pattern held up in the third round. Bute used constant lateral movement to frustrate a plodding Andrade, picking him off with lead left hands from the southpaw stance whenever he was within punching range. Frustration began to set in at rounds end for the challenger, who had to be restrained by the referee in efforts to get in Bute’s face after the bell.

A glimmer of hope came early in the fourth for Andrade. A right hand to the body kept Bute in place long enough to come back with a left hook upstairs, easily his best sequence of the fight to that point. Bute’s punches were thrown from much wider angles in the round, perhaps suggestive of Andrade’s subtle improvement in working his way inside.

Swelling began to form under Bute’s right eye as action picked up in the fifth round. Andrade was gaining success as Bute found himself moving backwards more and more. Right hands were finding Bute’s chin, though he stood up well to Andrade’s power and offered a taste in return. It wasn’t enough to rattle Andrade, but enough to buy the champion time as he tried to figure out a way to regain control of the fight.

Bute’s corner would offer an assist prior to the start of the sixth, when time was called to clean up excess water from the canvas. The old but effective trick appeared to revitalize Bute, who reverted to form, rattling off combinations as Andrade struggled to empty his clip.

It was more of the same in the seventh round, one that saw the action slow for the first time in the fight. Bute returned to shooting combinations straight down the middle, and offering enough movement to prevent Andrade from planting his feet and unloading. The crowd was brought to life late in the round when Bute nailed his foe with a series of head shots, tripling up on the jab before planting several lefts on Andrade’s granite chin.

Rounds eight and nine were equally dominated by Bute, leaving Andrade in a state of desperation as the fight entered double digit rounds. Fatigue was clearly setting in for both fighters, but Bute was able to find ways to rest in between punches, keeping Andrade on the outside and in a state of confusion.

Insult was added to injury when a knockdown was called midway through the round. A left hand knocked Andrade off balance, with a push aiding his fall to the canvas. The call could’ve went either way but the referee chose to administer an eight count, much to the delight of the crowd, who began to sense victory was well within reach.

With the fight seemingly in the bag, Bute played it safe in the championship rounds. Andrade never stopped coming forward, knowing full well that it would take a knockout to turn things around. Bute wasn’t interested in giving him that opportunity, flicking his jab and rattling off flashy combinations while fighting in reverse. Andrade’s failure to work behind a jab in plodding forward allowed Bute to clinch anytime the gap was closed, though he would draw a final warning for excessive holding.

He was given a hell of a lot more than that in the final three minutes, particularly in the closing seconds of the fight.

Chants of “Bu-te” echoed throughout the sold-out arena as the final round began. Bute fought like a man looking to run out the clock, while Andrade desperately sought that one opening that would instantly turn the tide. More than his share of punches found its way upstairs, though Bute weathered the storm – at least for 11 rounds, two minutes and 57 seconds.

Then, it almost happened.

Almost shouldn’t be part of the equation. A more objective referee would’ve easily counted out Bute ten seconds after being lit up by a right hand that sent him crashing to the canvas. Andrade would’ve been rightly rewarded with one of the most dramatic come-from-behind knockout wins in boxing history.

Instead, referee Marlon Wright became part of the story for all of the wrong reasons.

Bute was down and out, but benefitted from a long delay reminiscent of “The Long Count” that came in the Gene Tunney-Jack Dempsey rematch more than 80 years ago. The count began and just reached six, but was interrupted when Wright turned around to scream for Andrade to get back into the neutral corner. How far Andrade drifted was immediately unclear, though Wright walked all the way to center ring, and Andrade still was nowhere within camera range.

Time was called back in, with Wright once again counting six before finishing his count. Bute was on his feet, not taking another punch as the bell sounded immediately thereafter. 

Andrade remained composed, though the same could not be said of head trainer Howard Grant. So enraged with the sequence of events that ended the fight, Grant raced across the ring and shoved the referee in disgust before eventually being restrained by his assistants.

Without the benefit of a bailout knockout, Andrade could do no longer prevent receiving the reminder of all of the preceding rounds he lost as the final scores were announced.

The judges were unanimous in their view of who won the fight, with scores of 117-109, 115-111 and 115-110 all coming in for Bute, who remains undefeated and still with alphabet title in tow.

The rematch can come any time.

Critical Results

Using a formula inspired by the college football BCS, we’ve been compiling quarterly divisional ratings at Boxing Scene since the beginning of the year.  The fourth quarter lists were published, just a little later than normal, on October 16th and these are the critical results from the month of October with the pending November schedule for contenders and champions schedule thrown in for good measure.  Some important results (like Klitschko-Peter) happened prior to October 16th, and the ratings in the results below reflect post-fight rather than pre-fight standings.  Full ratings can be found at: https://www.boxingscene.com/forums/view.php?pg=boxing-ratings

November 2nd results may be in by the time some are reading this and will be reflected in next month’s review.

Heavyweight (201 lbs. – Unlimited)

10/11: #3 Vitali Klitschko (36-2, 35 KO, WBC) W TKO8 #10 Samuel Peter (30-2, 23 KO)

Scheduled for November

11/15: #6 Alexander Dimitrenko (28-0, 18 KO) vs. Luan Krasniqi (30-3-1, 14 KO)

Cruiserweight (176-200 lbs.)

10/24: Giacobbe Fragomeni (26-1, 10 KO) W TD8 #10 Ruldolf Kraj (14-1, 10 KO); vacant WBC title

10/25: #6 Marco Huck (23-1, 18 KO) W TKO2 Fabio Tuiach (22-2, 14 KO)

No BoxingScene rated fighter scheduled to compete in November.

Light Heavyweight (169-175 lbs.)

10/11: #1 Chad Dawson (27-0, 17 KO, IBF) W UD12 #8 Antonio Tarver (27-5, 19 KO)

10/18: #5 Bernard Hopkins (49-5-1, 32 KO) W UD12 World Middleweight Champion Kelly Pavlik (34-1, 30 KO, Lineal/Ring/WBC/WBO)

Scheduled for November

11/8: #2 Joe Calzaghe (45-0, 32 KO, Ring) vs. #3 Roy Jones Jr. (52-4, 38 KO)

11/11: #6 Glen Johnson (47-12-2, 32 KO) vs. Aaron Norwood (26-10-2, 13 KO)

11/15: #4 Adrian Diaconu (25-0, 15 KO, WBC) vs. Silvio Branco (57-9-2, 34 KO)

11/22: #7 Hugo Garay (31-3, 17 KO, WBA) vs. #10 Juergen Braehmer (31 -1, 25 KO)

Super Middleweight (161-168 lbs.)

10/24: #2 Lucien Bute (23-0, 18 KO, IBF) W UD12 #6 Librado Andrade (27-2, 21 KO)

10/25: #1 Mikkel Kessler (41-1, 31 KO) W KO3 Danilo Haussler (29-4-1, 7 KO)

Scheduled for November

11/13: #10 Sakio Bika (26-3-2, 16 KO) vs. Peter Manfredo Jr. (31-5, 16 KO)

11/15: #5 Jermain Taylor (27-2-1, 17 KO) vs. #7 Jeff Lacy (24-1, 17 KO)

Middleweight (155-160 lbs.)

10/18: #7 Marco Antonio Rubio (43-4-1, 37 KO) W SD12 Enrique Ornelas (28-5, 18 KO)

Already Completed in November

11/1: #2 Felix Sturm (31-2-1, WBA) W UD12 #3 Sebastian Sylvester (29-3, 14 KO)

Scheduled for November

11/8: #1 Arthur Abraham (27-0, 22 KO, IBF) vs. #9 Raul Marquez (41-3-1, 29 KO)

11/21: #10 John Duddy (25-0, 17 KO) vs. Sam Hill (17-9-1, 10 KO)

11/28: #4 Amin Asikainen (25-1, 17 KO) vs. Khoren Gevor (29-3, 15 KO)

Jr. Middleweight (148-154 lbs.)

10/4: #7 Sergio Martinez (44-1-1, 24 KO) W RTD8 Alex Bunema (30-6-2, 16 KO)

10/18: #10 Yuri Foreman (26-0, 8 KO) W UD10 Vinroy Barrett (22-7, 11 KO)

Already Completed in November

11/1: #4 Sergiy Dzinziruk (36-0, 23 KO, WBO) W UD12 Joel Julio (34-2, 31 KO)

Scheduled for November

11/22: #9 James Kirkland (23-0, 20 KO) vs. Brian Vera (16-1, 10 KO)

11/29: #2 Verno Phillips (42-11-1, 21 KO, IBF) vs. #2 at 147 Paul Williams (35-1, 26 KO, WBO)

Welterweight (141-147 lbs.)

No BoxingScene Rated fighters competed in October.

Scheduled for November

11/17: #10 Issac Hlatswayo (28-1, 10 KO) vs. Delvin Rodriguez (23-2-1, 14 KO)

Jr. Welterweight (136-140 lbs.)

No BoxingScene Rated fighters competed in October.

Already Completed in November

11/1: #10 Marcos Maidana (25-0, 24 KO) W KO2 Silverio Ortiz (19-12, 9 KO)

Scheduled for November

11/22: World Champion Ricky Hatton  (44-1, 31 KO) vs. #1 Paulie Malignaggi (25-1, 5 KO)

Lightweight (131-135 lbs.)

No BoxingScene Rated fighters competed in October or are scheduled to compete in November.

Jr. Lightweight (127-130 lbs.)

No BoxingScene Rated fighters competed in October or are scheduled to compete in November.

Featherweight (123-126 lbs.)

10/4: #5 Yuriorkis Gamboa (12-0, 10 KO) W KO2 Marcos Ramirez (25-1, 16 KO)

10/16: #3 Oscar Larios (63-6-1, 39 KO, WBC) W SD12 Takahiro Aoh (16-1-1, 8 KO)

10/18: #2 Steven Luevano (36-1-1, 15 KO, WBO) W UD12 Billy Dib (21-1, 11 KO)

10/23: Cristobal Cruz (37-11-1, 23 KO) W SD12 #4 Orlando Salido (31-10-2, 20 KO); vacant IBF belt

10/24: #1 Chris John (42-0-1, 22 KO, WBA) W UD12 #10 Hiroyuki Enoki (27-1-2, 19 KO)

No BoxingScene rated fighters scheduled to compete in November.

Jr. Featherweight (119-122 lbs.)

10/4: #3 Juan Manuel Lopez (23-0, 20 KO, WBO) W KO1 Cesar Figeuroa (30-7-2, 22 KO)

Already Completed in November

11/1: #8 Daniel Ponce De Leon (35-2, 31 KO) W KO4 Damian Marchiano (15-6-1, 5 KO)

Scheduled for November

11/21: #1 Celestino Caballero (30-2, 21 KO, WBA) vs. #4 Steve Molitor (28-0, 11 KO, IBF)

11/22: #9 Rey Bautista (26-1, 19 KO) vs. Heriberto Ruiz (39-7-2, 23 KO)

Bantamweight (116-118 lbs.)

10/12: #10 Sasha Bakhtin (21-0, 9 KO) W UD10 Gerson Guerrero (32-8, 24 KO)

10/16: #1 Hozumi Hasegawa (25-2, 9 KO, WBC) W TKO2 #9 Alejandro Valdez (21-3-1, 15 KO)

10/30: #2 Anselmo Moreno (24-1-1, 8 KO, WBA) W UD12 Rolly Matsuhita (25-7-1, 14 KO)

No BoxingScene rated fighters scheduled to compete in November.

Jr. Bantamweight (113-115 lbs.)

No BoxingScene Rated fighters competed in October

Already Completed in November

11/1: #3 Vic Darchinyan (31-1-1, 25 KO, IBF/WBC/WBA) W KO9 #1 Cristian Mijares (36-4-1, 15 KO)

11/1: #5 Jorge Arce (51-4-1, 39 KO) W TKO4 Isidro Garcia (25-6-2, 8 KO)

Scheduled for November

11/2: #2 Fernando Montiel (37-2-1, 28 KO, WBO) vs. Juan Rosas (27-4, 23 KO)

11/14: #9 Raul Martinez (23-0, 13 KO) vs. Victor Proa (26-0-2, 19 KO)

Flyweight (109-112 lbs.)

10/24: #8 Julio Cesar Miranda (28-3-1, 21 KO) W TKO7 Eduardo Garcia (10-3, 5 KO)

10/31: #4 Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (69-3-1, 37 KO) W TKO2 Danny Sutton (0-1)

Already Completed in November

11/1: #1 Nonito Donaire (20-1, 13 KO, IBF) W TKO6 #10 Moruti Mthalane (22-2, 15 KO)

Jr. Flyweight (106-108 lbs.)

10/4: #9 Omar Nino (26-3-1, 11 KO) W UD10 Francisco Soto (13-20-3, 9 KO)

10/17: #6 Juan Carlos Reveco (19-1, 10 KO) W KO6 Javier Tello (14-8-2, 9 KO)

Scheduled for November

11/2: #1 Ulises Solis (27-1-2, 20 KO, IBF) vs. Nervys Espinoza (25-4, 18 KO)

11/29: #2 Edgar Sosa (33-5, 17 KO) vs. #8 Juanito Rubillar (46-10-7, 22 KO)

Strawweight (105 lbs.)

No BoxingScene Rated fighters competed in October or are scheduled to compete in November.

Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at roldboxing@hotmail.com