On Saturday, April 30, 2016, the WBC Super Middleweight champion, Badou Jack (20-1-2, 12 KOs), fought to a majority draw against former world titlist, Lucian Bute (32-3-1, 23 KOs) in the co-main event of Showtime’s Super Middleweight double-header that also featured James DeGale vs. Rogelio Medina.
Both Jack and Bute, aware of a looming unification bout as the next step for the winner of this fight, put up solid performances in the most riveting (albeit controversial) fight of the night. Due to their more technical styles, this was a tactical fight from the onset.
The first round was tentative for both fighters as they worked behind their jabs, using feints and slight head movement to analyze their opponent for openings.
The second round saw both guys land some clean punches, however Jack was more effective, regardless of him taking the lead or waiting on counter opportunities.
In the fourth round Bute started more aggressively, catching Jack with clean shots by pressing the attack and never letting Jack settle. An eager Jack returned in kind in the fifth round, making minor adjustments with his lead punch selection–throwing the left hook–and creative combination punching.
The latter of the middle rounds were very competitive; there were legitimate arguments for both fighters winning Round 7 and 8, based on Bute’s flurries and Jack’s commitment to body punching.
The momentum of the fight was swinging toward Bute with subtlety, as he began to force the issue in the 10th round, while Jack seemed to fade.
Ironically, the champion was committed to assaulting Bute’s midsection early in the fight, but it was he who was getting out worked by a more aggressive Bute late in the fight.
The championship rounds were action packed, but mostly in favor of Bute; though Jack did land some hard shots, most notably the lead left hook.
Jack even admitted to being hurt late by a left uppercut to the body from Bute, his signature punch. A punch Bute mysteriously neglected to throw, until the last three rounds.
Sadly, Bute kick started his rally a little later than necessary to win as Jack retained the WBC Super Middleweight title with a majority draw.
Judges Omar Mintun and Glen Crocker scored the fight an even 114-114 (drawing Jack’s promoter and former pound-for-pound king, Floyd Mayweather’s ire), while Stephen Rados had Jack winning decisively with a 117-111 score.
Disappointed, Jack gave his opinion on the scoring. “It was bullshit,” said Jack. “But it is what it is.”
Holding no ill will toward his opponent, Jack clearly believes that this is an issue with judging.
“I feel I won the fight. Maybe I lost the last round. [Bute] is a great guy and a great champion, but I know I won the fight,” said Jack.
“It’s not Bute’s fault, it’s the judges,” continued Jack. “People saw I won the fight.”
Statistically, Jack’s argument bears out. Despite landing more than 100 punches more than his opponent and 61 percent of his power shots, he has a draw on his record. Bute was as respectful and classy as ever with his thoughts on the draw as he seemed satisfied with his performance.
“Believe me, it was very close fight,” said Bute. “My last fight with DeGale was very close; tonight was a very close fight. I showed everyone I’m still at the top.”
After successfully defending his title, IBF titlist DeGale has plans for Jack. “Let’s unify the decision and see who the best is,” said DeGale at the post-fight press conference.
While DeGale is set on making the fight happen and in the UK, Jack is more reserved about where, but he seems to like the idea of unifying the titles. “I’m ready in September, ready in August,” responded Jack.
“I’m ready whenever. Let’s do it where it makes the most sense financially,” said Jack.
It seems that a unification bout between the two is almost certain for the fall. Now, it’s just a matter of figuring out where it will be held. Bute said he just wants the opportunity to face the winner.
All photos by Idris Erba/Mayweather Promotions