By: William Holmes
The Bell Centre in Montreal Canada was the host for the first HBO World Championship Boxing broadcast of 2014.
The Bell Centre had sold over 20,000 tickets and the fans were packed in the arena by the start of the opening bout between Mike Perez (20-0) and Carlos Takam (29-1) in the heavyweight division.
Many were questioning whether the aftermath of the Magomed Abdusalamov fight may have taken something out of Perez, and it appeared tonight the answer was yes.
Takam started off the fight by using his slight reach advantage to box from the outside and focusing on his jab and straight punches to the body. Neither fight was aggressive, but Perez was landing the heavier punches early on.
Perez’s straight left hand was finding it’s home in the second round, but an accidental head-butt in the third round helped change the momentum of the fight. Blood was streaming down Perez’s face but luckily his corner did a good job at stopping the blood.
Mike Perez looked slower in the fourth round and Takam was starting to land his straight right hands. Takam stayed on his jab in the fifth round but really started to pick up the pace in the sixth round. He changed his strategy and kept the fight in tight by landing short shots to the body and head of Perez.
Perez’s sixth round was his most dominant and he appeared to control the rest of the fight. He was landing the harder punches and kept the fight in his desired close range. Perez’s corner told him he needed a stoppage before the start of the last round and he fought like he needed a knockout to win.
Despite the fact Perez appeared to have won a majority of the rounds, the judges did not feel that way. The final scores were 96-95, 95-95, and 95-95 for a majority draw.
Jean Pascal (28-2) and Lucian Bute (31-1) met in the light heavyweight division for the main event of the evening. Some were calling this the biggest fight in Canadian history between two Canadian fighters, and the drama inside the ring did not disappoint.
Bute looked nervous as he walked into the ring while Pascal looked very confident. The first round was a feeling out round as neither fighter appeared ready and willing to really press the pace. Bute landed two good straight left hands in the second round and Pascal landed a sold right hook upstairs in a very close second round.
Pascal began to take over the bout in the third round as he was able to land punches and bounce in and out. His straight right hand was landing while Bute was focusing on trying to counter Pascal. Pascal’s short right hand was landing in the fifth while Bute’s body shots were landing.
Pascal had a strong sixth round and a dominating seventh round. He had Bute backing up towards the ropes and was looking stronger as the fight was progressing. Bute continued to get banged around in the eighth round and had his nose busted up in the tenth round.
Even though Pascal dominated the fight through the first ten rounds Bute was able to make it exciting in the final two rounds. His straight left hand was landing and Pascal was inactive and looked to have been hurt several times. He may have been playing possum, but he went through several periods of inactivity where the referee could be heard telling Pascal to be more active.
Bute appeared close to be headed towards a knockdown in the last round but Pascal was able to survive and not get knocked down. If the fight had gone a few more rounds Bute might have been able to knock Pascal down, but Pascal had built up a large enough lead to win the bout despite losing the last few rounds.
The final scores were 116-112, 117-110, and 117-111.