Canadian Corner: Beterbiev wins as Butler vs Cook approaches

Shawn Smith
11/01/2017 11:54am

Shawn Smith rounds up the latest news from the Canadian boxing scene, as Montreal-based Artur Beterbiev wins again by KO and Quebec’s Steven Butler and Ontario’s Brandon Cook prepare for a potential Canadian classic...

It’s been a quiet few weeks in the Canadian boxing scene, but things are about to pick up in the next few months.

The most noticeable card of the last few weeks took place in Montreal on 23 December, as highly-touted Artur Beterbiev made easy work of Isidro Ranoni Prieto, knocking him out in impressive fashion. The Russian-born Beterbiev is fighting out of Montreal and took his record to 11-0, all by way of KO, with the win, making him the ninth ranked light-heavyweight in the world, according to Boxrec. A much talked about bout in Russia against Sergey Kovalev could finally take place in 2017, especially if Kovalev’s rematch with Andre Ward doesn’t pan out.

The undercard for Beterbiev vs Prieto was fairly uneventful, with the only fighter of note being Vislan Dalkhaev. The Russian-born Montrealer took his record to 9-0 with a unanimous decision over Mexico’s Salvador Hernandez.

On 29 December in Calgary, Alberta, Logan McGuinness took his record to 25-0-1 with a knockout victory against Cristian Arrazola. The undercard featured a variety of interesting prospects, including Canadian heavyweight champion Dillon Carman, former national amateur standout Devon Reti and super lightweight prospect Lukasz Wierzbicki, all of whom were victorious.

Looking ahead to later this month, on 28 January the Bell Centre in Montreal will be home to one of the biggest battles of Canadian-born fighters in nearly two decades, when Quebec’s Steven Butler (18-0-1) takes on Ontario’s Brandon Cook (17-0). The fight takes place in Butler’s hometown and he’s the likely favourite, but after two years of chasing a world title shot, Cook is aware of how important this opportunity is.

Cook’s promoter, Tyler Buxton, has been chasing a world title fight with Ecuadorian-born German, Jack Culcay, who is the interim WBA super welterweight champion. In 2016, Cook was also close to a showdown with WBA and IBO super welter champion Erislandy Lara, only for negotiations to break down.

The undercard for this bout is full of Canadian-born prospects that are expected to make a splash in years to come. The most prominent among them are Olympic heavyweight Simon Kean, Yves Ulysse Jr. and Josh O’Reilly.

The chance to capture another world title is running out for 36-year-old Lucian Bute, one of Quebec’s most beloved athletes.

After a well-fought loss to James DeGale in December of 2015, Bute returned with another impressive performance against Badou Jack, but was forced to settle for a majority draw (most thought Jack won). Now, as he tries to put allegations of drugs use behind him, Bute is looking towards sharp punching Colombian Eleider Alvarez as potentially his last major fight.

Alvarez has hung around the Montreal fight scene for a few years, waiting for his opportunity at a world title. A late 2015 win over Isaac Chilemba was expected to push him into the world title picture, but it never took place. A win over Bute would almost certainly catapult the 32-year-old into his first world title shot.

The undercard of Bute vs Alvarez still has many fight to be announced, but fans can definitely look forward to seeing former Canadian national champion Custio Clayton back in action. He’ll take on journeyman Lanardo Tyner for the WBA-NABA welterweight title.

In other action, it’s a fairly quiet weekend across Canada coming up, with the only fight of note being prospect Brian Samuel (3-1) taking on Flavio Michel (3-2) in Edmonton.

Saturday 21 January will see Quebec slugger Francis Lafreniere (13-5-2) return to the ring in Montreal against Nestor Garcia (22-12). While Lafreniere doesn’t have the prettiest of records, he’s a beloved fighter in Quebec for his never-say-die attitude. His January 2015 fight against Renan St. Juste was the Canadian fight of the year by this boxing writer's account.

The undercard is relatively inconsequential, but Golden Garcia (7-0) and Dwayne Durel (7-0) are both in action and are lightweight prospects that have begun to get noticed across the province.