Exclusive Interview: Librado Andrade Talks About His Upcoming Rematch With Lucian Bute - "I Will Not Let My Opportunity Slip By This Time"
by James Slater, photo by Tom Casino - Teak-tough Mexican warrior Librado Andrade came within a whisker of grabbing the IBF super-middleweight title in October of last year, when he knocked down defending champion Lucian Bute in the dying seconds of the 12th and final round in Montreal, Canada. The fight was instantly thrown into controversy when referee Marlon Wright, upon administering a count to an exhausted Bute, broke the count to warn the challenger for moving too far out of a neutral corner. Bute survived the round, as the bell rang a second or so after the eight-count was finally completed , and the barely-upright champion kept his title via unanimous decision.
Article posted on 26.11.2009
Now, this Saturday evening, in Quebec City, Canada, the awaited rematch takes place.
Feeling he will finish what he began in the final seconds of the initial meeting with the unbeaten Bute, 31-year-old Andrade, 28-2(21) has been enjoying a great training camp under coach Howard Grant.
Now based in Canada of course, as is Romanian Bute, Andrade began our talk by telling me how enjoyable the camp he has had in preparation for the 29-year-old southpaw has been..
Here is what Librado had to say in the interview:
"Training has been very nice, everything has been good," Librado said in his Mexican accent.
"We have had a very happy camp. The guys I've been sparring with have been great also. The main guy I've sparred with is a guy called Alexander Johnson (a southpaw light-heavyweight.) He's 8-0, from DC (actually Maryland), and he's very competitive, he really wants to compete - he says he wants to be in the top-two in the division (laughs). I've also been sparring with Craig McEwan, from Scotland (also a southpaw). He moves a lot. We don't go real hard in sparring, we kind of go through the motions, practicing different things."
Andrade fell badly behind on points in the first fight with Bute, and had to go for it late in the bout. Though he came close, the 31-year-old didn't get the late stoppage. The easygoing and really quite humble-sounding tough guy who has been in so many exciting fights says he will start much faster this time round.
"That's the plan, to start much faster this time," Andrade confirmed.
"But I know Bute will be prepared, and I have a feeling he will try to outbox me this time, that he may run and not stand with me. We are working very hard on how to deal with that if that's the case. I will break him down little by little and this time I will not let the opportunity [of getting a KO] go by."
Librado's trainer, Howard Grant, was incensed at the actions of referee Wright, so much so that he was unable to restrain himself from shoving the third man in the ring - an action that saw him subsequently suspended from being a corner-man for a time. But was Andrade angry over what transpired?
"No, I wasn't angry. I just kept thinking, 'just let the fight go two or three more seconds!' I was confused at the time, and I couldn't understand what the referee was doing. It all happened so fast. I wasn't angry, but I kept thinking, 'why don't you just stop the fight?' Later, it all became clear; how the referee was just in no hurry, how he was looking at everyone except Bute. He wasn't looking at Bute's condition at all, even though he was out of it and in such bad shape.
"After the fight, when I watched it, I just wanted to get right back in the gym and learn more. I know that, when I came so close to winning the last fight, I will win this time. I know Bute now, and I have a lot of confidence going into the rematch."
Obviously, a major talking point over the return fight is who the appointed referee will be this time. Librado says he has no clue who it will be, but that he is relatively unconcerned.
"I have no idea [who the referee will be], but I have confidence in my manager and in my promoter, Golden Boy, that they will see to it that everything is fair - that they will pick a neutral referee. But whoever the referee is, and whatever the result of the fight is - as long as it's the fair result. That's all that matters."
It goes without saying that the Mexican banger wants a KO in the fight. Librado wants to leave no room for argument this time.
"That's right. I want a KO, and that way I will leave no doubt. I will end the fight the way I was supposed to end the first fight. But I've put that [the first fight] behind me now. I have a brand new opportunity now, and I will not let it slip away. Bute is a great boxer. I know he can outbox me. But I will get to him. I will hurt him and I will stop him."
I asked Librado, who has been in with the WBA 168-pound champion Mikkel Kessler, in what was another memorable fight, how the Dane compares with the Romanian-born IBF champion.
"Kessler is far better, a lot better. Technically, mechanically, everything. Bute is just an awkward boxer. Bute is a very different fighter to Kessler altogether. He's not as exciting as Kessler, and he doesn't fight as hard. I would put Kessler at the very top of the 168-pound division right now." (note, this interview took place the day before Kessler's upset loss to Andre Ward)
Andrade last fought in April of this year, and in his first fight back after the Bute disappointment he met another southpaw in Ukraine's Vitali Tsypko. Dishing out a quite fearful beating, the 31-year-old who has never been stopped looked excellent. Librado tells me he felt good, too.
"I was a lot more relaxed going into the Tsypko fight [compared to going into the Bute fight]. I know I am improving with each fight, and I knew Tsypko could take a good shot and throw back, and that was a concern for a short while. I was kind of surprised how well I dealt with him - I knocked him down twice. He fought on the inside, whereas Bute will not fight on the inside - he boxes and uses distance. The Tsypko win made me feel even more confident as a fighter."
As badly as Andrade hurt Bute last October, does he feel the IBF champ will run and look to win in a negative fashion on November 28th?
"Yes, I think that's what Bute's plan will be this time - to back-pedal and look to survive. Well, not survive, but to outbox me and not mix it with me. But of course, I am ready for a fight all the time! If he has the cojones to have a fight with me I will be very happy (laughs)."
For every fighter, the realisation of fulfilling the dream of becoming a world champion means everything, and Librado is no different. However, he says he has two other factors that are driving him to succeed in the Bute return.
"For me, the main concentration is on becoming the first [super-middleweight] world champion from Mexico. That will mean so much to me and to Mexico. But the revenge thing is also something that is in my mind - with me clearing up the whole controversy over the first fight. There is a lot of good energy for me going into this fight. A lot of happy energy!"
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