Ex-super middleweight world champ Bute retires

Former super middleweight world titleholder Lucian Bute, perhaps the most popular fighter in Canadian history, announced his retirement from boxing at a news conference on Wednesday at the Bell Centre, the Montreal arena where Bute became a star.

"It's time to turn the page. Today, here, officially, I announce you that I retire. This is forever. If I say, 'It's over,' it's over for real," Bute said.

Bute, 39, was born in Romania but relocated to Montreal to begin his professional career in 2003. He fell in love with the city and the fans there fell in love with him, and he became a Canadian citizen in 2012.

He packed the Bell Centre for some of Canada's biggest fight nights ever. Bute, a southpaw with smooth boxing skills and good punching power, held a 168-pound world title from 2007 to 2012 and made nine successful defenses. He fought at the Bell Centre 21 times, including when he knocked out Alejandro Berrio in the 11th round to win the title and for six of his defenses.

Bute, the married father of two small children, had not boxed since February 2017, when he suffered a fifth-round knockout loss to Montreal rival Eleider "Storm" Alvarez, who went on to win a light heavyweight world title. Bute was 2-5 in his last seven fights, including when he traveled to Carl Froch's hometown of Nottingham, England, for a much-anticipated defense and lost by fifth-round knockout to begin his career-ending rut.

It was after the loss to Alvarez that he said he began to seriously contemplate retirement.

"One week after my fight with Eleider Alvarez, my daughter Ema was born. I took the time to think," said Bute, who was in tears as he made his announcement. "A few months later, I did not know what to do. I had doubts. Then I saw her grow up, and I said no, I have nothing more to prove. It's better to stay healthy and take care of this little girl. Then my second (child) came and it was finished for me. I had no doubt. I knew I was not going to get into the ring one last time. It was useless to do another fight."

Attending the news conference were many of the people who had been along for the ride and were important to Bute's career: trainers Howard Grant and Stephan Larouche and promoters Jean Bedard and Yvon Michel.

Bute (32-5, 25 KOs) was at the center of what is considered a golden age of Montreal boxing in the super middleweight and light heavyweight divisions as the city boasted such top fighters as Bute and former light heavyweight titleholders Adonis Stevenson, Alvarez and Jean Pascal.

After Bute lost his super middleweight title, he moved up to light heavyweight, where he lost a decision to Pascal in a nontitle fight that was nonetheless viewed as the biggest fight in Quebec history even if both were a bit past their primes. Two fights later, Bute returned to super middleweight and lost a competitive decision to James DeGale challenging for a world title in Quebec City in 2015.

Bute fought to a spirited draw challenging then-super middleweight titlist Badou Jack in his next fight in Washington, D.C., but Bute tested positive for the banned substance ostarine (also called enobosarm) and the result was changed to a disqualification loss. After paying a $50,000 fine and serving a six-month suspension, Bute, who denied knowingly taking the banned substance, had what turned out to be his final bout with Alvarez in February 2017.

During his heyday, Bute defeated opponents such as Sakio Bika, William Joppy, Librado Andrade (twice), Edison Miranda and Glen Johnson. After the loss to Froch, however, Bute was never the same, which he admitted.

"Yes, we can say that it was the beginning of the end," he said. "After this defeat, I was not like before. It was a hard defeat, which hurt me. It left me hesitant for my next fights. I worked with psychologists. I continued to work thinking that I still had in me to become world champion. I gave everything. I have no regrets. I went to the end."