It’s mighty tough to win on the other guy’s home turf, just ask Denis Grachev

November 3, 2012 No Comments

Carlos Baruch (C) of Denis Grachev’s support staff, stands in front of the ring announcer looking out at the Bell Centre crowd wondering if it’s at all possible for his good buddy Denis to get a fair shake from the judges and partisan crowd. Photo: Jim Wyatt

As Paul Harvey used to say, “And now here’s the rest of the story.” On Saturday afternoon, November 3, 2012, your humble servant was inside the 40,000 square foot Herring Broadcasting Inc. building on Morena Boulevard in San Diego. I was a guest of Paul Vaden, the former-Light Middleweight Champion of the World who was co-anchoring the show Boxing Night with Allen Randolph for the good people of the Wealth TV Network. I was invited to watch the Fight Night broadcast being streamed live from Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Fight Night host Allen Randolph (L) with his co-host and boxing analyst Paul “The Ultimate” Vaden have a moment between fights to chuckle about one of the boxers who is definitely on an ego trip. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Without a doubt, Wealth TV has the most intriguing lineup of programming from Damon Redfern’s Karma Trekkers to The Magic of the Louvre: A Journey Back in Time. They painstakingly serve 15 million plus subscribers, many of whom pay nothing for the service while others pay a mere 99 cents per month. With the quality of their programming mirroring my more expensive, $59.95 Pay-Per-View purchases of the past, my mind went bonkers considering the possibilities and how Wealth TV can help not only the sport of Boxing but more importantly the individual boxer by raising his or her standard of living. Their system is designed to reward the boxers who put on the best performance.

For example, WealthTV announced that on November 17th in a bout which many feel could be a “Fight of the Year” candidate, they’ll have the WBO Flyweight champion Brian Viloria going up against WBA Flyweight champ Hernan “Tyson” Marquez in their much anticipated unification bout. And even more intriguing they have this mega fight between the top heavyweight contenders 6’9” Tyson Fury and 6’8” David Price on their docket.

Network president Charles Herring looked about at his staff and told me, “You’re in a room with boxing junkies. Our staff is constantly searching the world for the best upcoming and proven fighters. We’re pleased to be delivering on our commitment to offer boxing fans the highest quality bouts free to WealthTV viewers without any premium channel like associated fee. We anticipate upwards of 40 to 60 live world-class boxing events on the network for 2013, a run rate we are currently achieving.”

On Saturday, the Bute versus Grachev fight was seen on WealthTV nationally on Verizon FiOS TV channel 169 and 669 in HD, AT&T U-Verse TV channels 470 and 1470 in HD, along with over 100 cable systems across the country as well as on line on numerous connected devices and via www.wealthtv.com. In addition to this match, they aired the entire fight card – a total of 8 bouts – 46 rounds of boxing.

Why? Because a month to six weeks ago, they had their staff researching which upcoming boxing shows had the highest number of competitive matches. As they will tell you, “We don’t have a dog in the fight. It doesn’t matter which boxer wins or loses, or which promoter is at war with another promoter. We don’t care if the show’s taking place in outer Mongolia. What we’re interested in, is providing our customers with the very best entertainment from the sport of boxing.

They’re not interested in the show that took place on Saturday night in Washington D.C. where both the Main and Co-Main event were mismatches, Dusty Harrison 9-0 versus Nalo Leal (4-16-1) and Philip Jackson Benson (9-1) taking on William Prieto, (5-6-1).

This premier lifestyle and entertainment network also provides invaluable insights into what Americans dream of – from travel secrets to fast cars, from outrageous homes to live events, and much more. The network fills a television vacuum by delivering intellectually stimulating, thought-provoking entertainment and always-unbiased news from an insider’s perspective. For more information, check them out at www.wealthtv.com.

Photo of Denis Grachev at the weigh-in Friday in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

After touring their facility, I sat down in one of their comfy chairs to pig out on the matches that just kept on coming. Of course the contest I had the most interest in was the Lucian Bute versus Denis Grachev match. I, like so many people, was wondering why the 32 year-old Bute (30-1-0, 24 KOs), of Montreal, Quebec, Canada had personally selected the undefeated, 30 year-old Grachev (12-0-1, 8 KOs), a San Diego resident for his opponent. The fight was held at the beautiful Bell Centre in Montreal, obviously a venue to Bute’s liking. He has fought there 19 times. The former world champion was hoping to take Grachev’s NABF Light Heavyweight title.

Why would the very marketable Bute camp choose Grachev from their long list of available opponents? For one, there was this perceived difference in talent levels and according to the Las Vegas Sportsbooks Bute was a 9-1 favorite. They also figured Grachev would be overwhelmed by such an opportunity. Their next assumption? Even though Grachev was born and raised in Chaykovsky, Russia, his body would surely need to adjust to the cooler Canadian climes, especially after being a six year resident of San Diego. Thirdly, there was Grachev’s sudden notoriety after upsetting the 17-0 top contender, Ismayl Sillakh from Simi Valley, CA in April 27. As a consequence, Grachev had moved up in the rankings to #12, a development that made Grachev a ‘comme ci, comme ça’ acceptable contender. Fourth, surely Bute had more experience with 18 additional bouts. And lastly, Bute should benefit from the lefty versus righty stance advantage.

Here we see Lucian Bute (R) landing a straight right to the chin of Denis Grachev (L) during their NABF title fight Saturday, November 3, at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

SportofBoxing.com’s round by round scoring: Even though the tense and competitive opening round saw each man have their moments, it was Bute that ended up with the cuts – one on the nose, another above his left eyebrow. 10-9 Grachev In Round 2, Bute came on with a couple of decent shots in the final minute. Bute 10-9 Since Round 3 was a dead even round, you have to figure Bute, with his home court advantage would get the nod. Bute 10-9  Round #4, Grachev was clearly the aggressor and landed more punches. Bute did return punches but infrequently plus he was always grabbing at Grachev to tie him up. 10-9 Grachev Round #5 Again, Grachev was the busier of the two, 10-9 Grachev. Round #6, a slight edge to Bute. Bute 10-9. Round #7, once again, Grachev had Bute backing up, 10-9 Grachev. After Grachev got sloppy on defense, Bute out scored him to take Round #8. Bute 10-9. Grachev took control in Round #9 by throwing to both the head and body. 10-9 Grachev. Round #10 was too close to call and you got to figure the nod would go to Bute. Bute 10-9. In Round #11 Grachev landed only arm punches and Bute started to land some clean shots to the head. 10-9 Bute.

Here we see Denis Grachev (L) of San Diego, CA nailing Lucian Bute of Montreal, Quebec with a straight left hand in the NABF Title match, Saturday night, November 3, 2012.

After fighting cautiously for 11 rounds and only taking single shots at Grachev, Bute’s trainer made one last plea, Lucian, these are the three most important minutes of your life.” Bute took his trainer’s words to heart and finished strong in the Championship round. It was as if he had been saving himself for this one last burst to the finish line. After playing possum for 11 rounds, the Bute that Montreal fans had grown to love, had blown up to mythical proportions, finally came out of his shell. The chants of “Bute! Bute!!” were no longer sounding like the earlier pleas “to do something, do something!!” His fans were back to paying tribute. The round was so one sided it appeared Bute had a shot at putting Grachev away. He unleashed a barrage of left hooks and straight lefts that snapped Grachev’s head back more than once. In that 12th and final round, he threw the most telling blows of the entire fight. Bute 10-9.

If it was Bute’s plan to be fresher and stronger for that final round, then perhaps it was a masterful stroke. Does the manner in which he fought puzzle boxing pundits? It has to. Why did he wait so long? When counting up the round by round scores, we came up with 115-113 for Bute.

All three Judges favored Bute: John McKaie, being from Flushing in Queens, New York, N. Y. appears to be the only impartial judge. He too scored the bout 115-113 for Bute. Jack Woodburn, who has now judged nine of Bute’s bouts and lives in Montreal, scored the bout 116-112 for his neighbor. Claude Paquette, who has now judged five of Bute’s bouts and lives in Quebec, scored the bout 118-110 for Bute. Being from the Montreal area, the latter two judges would have to have been influenced by the fact they know Bute on a personal level.

Based in San Diego and personal friends with Grachev, I tried my best to remain impartial. After all is said and done, I could justify the 115-113 for Bute. But after hearing Paquette’s scores, I believe someone needs to have their eyes checked.

Prior to leaving the City Boxing Gym in Downtown San Diego for their trek to Montreal, Grachev and his team spoke of the need to get a knockout in order to have any chance of winning. Sad to say, they were right.

After watching this fight, it gives further credence to the naysayers who believe Bute can not possibly hang with the likes of Andre Ward, Carl Froch or Mikell Kessler.

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