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17 JANUARY 2018


Bute Scores TKO Over Joppy In First IBF Title Defense

By Sean Waisglass: Television cameras caught a poignant moment during Lucien Bute’s ring entrance inside Montreal’s Bell Centre Friday night. As the Romanian-born IBF super middleweight champ - who’s now a beloved adopted son of the Canadian boxing Mecca - walked the aisle in the midst of spotlights, a live band, and nearly 14,000 cheering hometown fans, the broadcast cut to a shot of challenger William Joppy, waiting in his corner, his face darkened by the shadows of the dimmed ring lights as he watched the fanfare of his approaching opponent.

He had a forlorn, distant look on his face, perhaps remembering the other two times he’d faced off against heavily favoured undefeated foes in high stakes title bouts on enemy turf: vs. Felix Trinidad in the Puerto Rican hotbed of NYC in 2001, and Jermain Taylor in Arkansas in 2004. Both resulted in decisive losses. Very decisive. He lost via TKO against Trinidad, and total scorecard shutout to Taylor.

And sure enough, despite the fact Joppy had strung together five knockout wins since the Taylor defeat, Friday night would prove to have more of the same in store.

Bute, now 22-0 (18), won nearly every round en route to his 10th round TKO stoppage of the former middleweight champion Joppy, 39-5-1 (30), of Washington D.C. (who despite being from the U.S capital, strangely walked to the ring to the Eagles song “Hotel California” waving small Canadian flags in his hands).

The southpaw Bute, who turned 28 the day before the fight, looked calm and confident as he settled his lean 6’2 frame into a semi crouch, his right hand at his waist as he used lateral movement to lead the 5’9 tall, 37-year old veteran into counterpunches. The wary Joppy got caught by a right hook mid round then rocked back by a lead left near the round’s end.

Bute started to loosen up in the second, firing his left hand as a lead or off the jab while the ex-champ tried to find a good range for his own jab. Although Joppy had his first bright spot of the bout when a clean jab/right combo landed, Bute backed him into the ropes and opened up, landing a nice straight right/left combo down the middle.

Joppy looked a little more comfortable over the next two rounds, letting his hands go more freely, and had some success when he landed a nice body-to-head combo in the fourth that ended with a right cross, then a lead right not long after. But Bute thwarted the challenger’s momentum with a jarring lead straight left that backed Joppy off, and followed up with a series of jab/left combos.

Joppy, who showed tons of grit when outgunned against middleweight champs Trinidad, Bernard Hopkins, and Taylor, showed the same stuff in the fifth, when he was stunned by two hard lefts from Bute, later followed by two stiff uppercuts, yet fired back with a nice three punch body/head combo punctuated by a hook. It would prove to be the last effective combination the challenger threw, as Bute, who’d used his reach and deft footwork to avoid getting hit clean for most the fight, starting making a habit of ramming his straight left through the guard of Joppy.

A speedy four-punch combo in the seventh landed hard enough to warrant Joppy’s acknowledgment via a glove wave, as if to say “that didn’t hurt”, and after spending much of the eighth round backed into a corner absorbing crisp combinations, the American mounted a brave, yet ultimately ineffective counter attack near the round’s end. Despite Joppy’s attempts to hang tough, it was becoming obvious as Bute amped up his attack and the crowd chanted his name, that things were indeed looking grim for the challenger.

Although he’d notably neglected to work the body to take away the mobility of Joppy for much of the bout, Bute was landing solid leads and counters to the head with ease come the ninth, and finally, a lead straight left clubbed Joppy as he was backing up, and a grazing hook followed by a left to the top of the head after a clinch had bent Joppy over finally put the challenger down. The bell rang as the referee finished the 8-count, and Joppy made his way to his corner and stood facing the turnbuckle, his arms slung over the top ropes with a look on his face like he knew what was coming despite his cornermen’s urges to try and fend off a knockout.

Not long after the bell rang again for the tenth, a swift left uppercut from Bute had Joppy stumbling along the ropes, then a straight left pinned him there before another blasted his head back, echoing Bute’s dazzling title-winning TKO of Alejandro Berrio last October. Joppy, who stubbornly stayed on his feet, again stumbled across the ropes, but realizing he was on the verge of a stoppage, took a knee and another 8-count.

He gamely got up, and displaying the guts that had earned him his multiple title shots, moved to centre ring and jabbed at Bute, trying to back him off. But the Romanian-Canadian knew he had a wounded beast in front of him, and went in for the kill. Another crashing left hand backed Joppy into a corner, and a combo that battered the challenger about the head as he was bent forward convinced referee Marlon Wright to wave off the bout at 1:08 of the tenth round.

Bute, who’ll eventually have to defend his belt against the winner of an eliminator bout featuring Mexican-American Librado Andrade vs. German Robert Steiglitz next month, has nonetheless helped position himself to ascend the super middleweight chain of command after current champion Joe Calzaghe moves up to light heavyweight to meet Bernard Hopkins.

On the undercard, two more Romanian transplants scored wins: Victor Lupo, 17-1-1, a sharp-punching, two-fisted brawler defended his Canadian welterweight title against rugged Peru-born Montreal-based Leonardo Rojas, 7-6-3, via ninth-round TKO. And Jo Jo Dan, 20-0 (11), a southpaw welterweight, stopped Mexican journeyman Jose Corona, 8-8, in the third round.

Although now based in Montreal, and like Bute, under the banner of Interbox promotions, both boxers started their pro careers in Toronto under the tutelage of Adrain Teodorescu, who worked with former heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis during his amateur days, and current IBF 122lb belt holder Steve Molitor for his first 17 bouts as a pro.

Also on the undercard:
Renan St. Juste TKO 5 Mohammad Said (middleweight)
Sebastian Gauthier W6 Diego Sananco (bantamweight)

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