Lucian Bute-Librado Andrade II and Joan Guzman-Ali Funeka: Predictions

The Franchise says...

Last time Lucian Bute and Librado Andrade met, things were going Bute's way for almost the entire fight. And by that I mean until the last few seconds of the 12th and final round.

After outboxing the more aggressive but less effective Andrade in almost every round, Bute got either a bit tired or a bit brave and ended up trading with his challenger. He came out on the wrong end of the exchange and needed what seemed like a lot more than ten seconds to "beat" the count and hold onto his super middleweight title.

Andrade's team must not have been too upset over the perception that Bute (who's originally from Romania but resides in Montreal) was bailed out by home cooking, because he's headed back to Quebec for Saturday's rematch. Quebec City will be the site this time, but the fans should still be solidly behind Bute.

There's really nothing to suggest this fight will go too much differently than the first one. Andrade needs to find a way to land more punches while he's pressuring Bute, but while the IBF titleholder is sometimes around to be hit, he's much faster and just slick enough not to lose too many rounds.

Expect the tough and persistent Andrade, who's never been knocked out, to be around until the end. But unless Bute experiences another late-fight case of fatigue or bravado (take your pick), he should retain his title by unanimous decision.

The co-feature on HBO's Boxing After Dark broadcast has the potential to outshine the main event. Joan Guzman and Ali Funeka will do battle for the vacant IBF lightweight title in a bout where both boxers likely feel they have something to prove.

Aside from Kelly Pavlik, there's probably no more star-crossed top contender in any weight class than Guzman. He was all set to take on Nate Campbell in August of 2008, but failed to make weight and ended up not fighting at all after doctors decided his efforts to cut would have endangered him.

Earlier this year Guzman's name was thrown around as a possible opponent for 140-pound champ Timothy Bradley, but that fight never materialized. Whether he's at fault or not, the former super bantamweight and super featherweight titleholder has fought just twice in the last 35 months.

Funeka, meanwhile, was pretty much an unknown quantity outside his native South Africa until this past February, when he gave Campbell all he could handle before dropping a majority decision. He's tall, strong and very active, and he's certainly capable of bringing it to Guzman for 12 rounds.

This is a tough call to make because of the uncertainty over what version of Guzman will enter the ring on Saturday. He's always had quick hands and slippery defense, but ring rust and stamina are concerns. It's also fair to wonder if he'll have enough pop to keep Funeka honest, as he's never been a huge puncher (his last eight wins all came on the scorecards) even in lower weight classes.

If Guzman looks anything like he has in his best form, his speed, accuracy and defense should be a package that is too much for Funeka. Anything less and the man known as Rush Hour wins. This pick is made without a ton of conviction, but this writer likes Guzman to take a narrow decision by rediscovering some of his old magic, leaving Funeka to once again agonize over how close he came to a big win.

Posted by The Franchise

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