MONTREAL (AP) Jean Pascal dominated an unusually tentative Lucian Bute to win the matchup of former world champions by unanimous decision before 20,479 at the Bell Centre on Saturday night.
The decidedly pro-Bute crowd could do little to help their fighter, who appeared more concerned with not getting hit than with launching attacks.
One judge had it 117-110, another 117-111 and the third 116-112.
Pascal took Bute's minor NABF title and something called the WBC diamond belt, but more importantly, he bested his fellow Montreal fighter in their long-awaited showdown and made himself a player again in the light heavyweight division.
The fight, billed as the biggest between two Canadians, was a one-sided affair, with Pascal (29-2-1) on attack from the outset.
"I've waited seven years for this," Pascal said. "When I go into the ring, I want to dominate. ... That was my game plan - dominate all the time. Go in and out. To be vicious, active, explosive, and that's what I did from start to finish."
He failed to knock his Romanian-born opponent down, however, although he opened a nasty cut on Bute's nose in the 10th.
Bute (31-2) often looked confused and unwilling to go on attack.
"Jean Pascal was the better fighter and deserved to win," the 33-year-old Bute said. "Why I let the fight go like that I don't know. ... I'll have to go over the fight many times with my team."
Despite losing, Bute made it clear his career is not finished. He even told the crowd he wants a rematch.
"It's for you to say if I have a chin or not," he said. "I took a lot of punches and I didn't go down."
Heavyweights Mike Perez and Carlos Takam fought to a 10-round majority draw on the undercard. Perez (20-0-1) and Takam (28-1-1) spent most of the bout with their heads locked together, trading short range blows to the head and body. The southpaw Perez suffered a cut from a headbutt in the third round that hampered his performance.
The Frenchman Takam's best moment was late in the sixth when he rocked Perez with a right.
Ringside judges scored it 96-94, 95-95 and 95-95.
Perez, a Cuban living in Ireland, had Mago written on his trunks in honor of Russian Magomed Abdusalamov, whose career he ended with a 10-round victory on Nov. 2 in New York. Abdusalamov spent a month after the bout in an enduced coma and remains in a rehab centre unable to walk or talk.
Eleider Alvarez (14-0) of Montreal was supposed to be in the co-feature against veteran Thomas Oosthuisen, but the South African pulled out with an injury.
His replacement, Ottawa's Andrew Gardiner (10-1), put on a gutsy show, winning some of the middle rounds, until he was stung at the end of the eighth and the gifted Colombian took back control. Alvarez got the decision 99-91, 96-93 and 97-93.
At the end, the crowd cheered Gardiner and booed Alvarez, who had refused to touch gloves with his opponent after the bout after something was said to him from Gardiner's corner.