Pic by Sean Waisglass
By Sean Waisglass: There's a new super middleweight in town...
Already possessing two top shelf 168 pounders in world ranked Otis Grant and former title holder Eric Lucas, the province of Quebec and it's star city Montreal - Canada's hotbed of boxing - added a third world class member of the division to it's ranks last night when Romanian transplant Lucien Bute, now sporting a perfect 14-0 record all by way of knockout, defeated Brooklyn-based Egyptian Kabery Salem, 23-5 (12 KO) in the Bell Centre in Montreal.
After controlling the action for most of the bout save for a brief surge by Salem in the sixth, Bute knocked his foe down in the eighth, and having had enough, the usually durable "Egyptian Magician" called it quits in his corner before the ninth bell.
Although not the first man to knock down Salem, Bute, a lanky 6'2 southpaw with explosive combination punching ability and a mean left uppercut, became the first man to stop Salem - accomplishing something light heavyweight contender Eric Harding, hard-hitting middle and super middleweight contender Antwun Echols, and long-time super middleweight title holder Joe Calzaghe, whom Salem fought last October, couldn't do. And he did it before even reaching the two-year mark in his pro career.
Although the 37-year old Salem had been out of the ring for nearly a year, it's still a remarkable achievement for the fast-maturing 25-year old Bute.
Only 22 months into his career and under the tutelage of gifted trainer Stephane Larouche (trainer of former title holders Lucas and Leo Dorin), Bute seems well on his way to joining the new guard at 168 lbs. along with Jeff Lacy, Mikkel Kessler, Librado Andrade and Danny Green. His promoters Interbox have had him on a steady diet of fights, including seven last year, and will now likely start stepping up the quality, culling tough journeymen, seasoned fringe contenders, and former champions to feed to their promising fighter before going for a belt next year.
Also on the card, Montreal-based Romanian countryman Adrian Diaconu, 19-0 (12 KO) defended his Canadian Light Heavyweight title in a rematch against British Columbia's Conal McPhee, 11-3, stopping his opponent in the second round. Diaconu is a strong and stout 5'9 boxer-puncher who resembles Leo Dorin, the former lightweight title holder, also trained by Larouche.
Heavyweight Jean Francois Bergeron, 22-0 (15) of St. Jerome, Quebec boxed his way to an easy eight round decision decision over journeyman Marcus McGee, 14-8 of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Bergeron, a lean and lanky 6'5 southpaw who usually weighs in around the 220-pound area, has solid skills, but at 32, needs to step up his quality of competition to prepare for bigger things in a fast-aging division with few promising new faces coming up.