“This Is Not Who We Are”

What I am writing here is without any filter and reflects my personal opinion as a boxing fan and a resident of Montreal, as someone who saw the same crazy scene everyone else saw that night. Before commenting on the fight itself, I want to talk about what happened in the ring right after the bout was stopped, when Steven Butler pushed Brandon Cook and a metal ice bucket flew into the ring and hit Cook on the head.

If I were Steven Butler, the first thing I would do now is publicly apologize to Brandon Cook and distance myself completely from this unacceptable act. I’ll go even further. Steven, look at your entourage. Look at your friends. You have a beautiful professional career waiting for you, the chance to become a major figure in Quebec sports and the idol of Montreal fight fans.

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Cook pressures Butler: a great fight marred by mayhem.

But you cannot overlook the fact that the person who threw that ice bucket was one of your supporters. The people who turned a great boxing event into mayhem with fights in the arena and tables and chairs thrown about, and even people taken to hospital for minor injuries, the ones who made that happen were your fans. You cannot ignore that.

You’re a young man, only 21, and now a father, and this task requires a lot of character and wisdom. You need to make a mature decision and apologize to Brandon Cook. Explain that you acted out of emotion, completely in the moment, when you shoved Cook. Acknowledge that it was wrong and that it won’t happen again. We will forgive you.

Especially, you must condemn the act of throwing an ice bucket into the ring. You must condemn the violence that erupted around the ring. And if the people who initiated that madness are your friends and your fans, you must publicly explain that you reject this kind of reaction. It sends a terrible image and message about Quebec, about Montreal. I’m ashamed of how we responded to Brandon Cook’s win. This is not who we are.

A dazed Butler pushes Cook at the same moment an ice bucket crashes on Cook's head.
Sordid ending: Butler pushes Cook as an ice bucket bounces the winner’s head.

Like many here in Montreal, I couldn’t wait to see this fight. Steven Butler vs Brandon Cook promised excitement. There appeared to be a legitimate animosity between the two fighters, an animosity that was stoked and intensified and carried over to the fans by the marketing for the match emphasizing the rivalry of Ontario vs Quebec, Toronto vs Montreal.

Butler was clearly a big favourite to prevail, but every time I read the comments of people who thought it was going to be an easy win, I kept thinking, “Be careful, Steven. Don’t take him lightly. Cook is a dangerous fighter who comes to win, not just to collect a payday.”

When the match began Butler looked determined to get an early round knockout, a risky strategy, but one he had pursued in the past with success. He did score well at times, but ultimately Cook showed he had the courage and toughness to withstand Steven’s attack and come back with his own shots. And in round six he showed the danger of Butler’s strategy. He connected with a huge left hook and Butler struggled to survive the round.

The momentum of the battle had changed. The hunted had become the hunter. And in round seven Cook launched a superb overhand right that connected with tremendous impact. Butler froze and then toppled to the canvas from Cook’s follow-up left hook. Give Steven credit: he beat the count even though he was badly hurt and exhausted. Some debate as to whether the referee should have given him a chance to continue, but let’s be honest. Even if he had, it would not have changed the outcome. The referee made a wise decision.

I have much admiration now for Brandon Cook. He was an overlooked fighter who came to his opponent’s hometown with a vision, a plan to triumph. He never doubted himself and demonstrated great courage. He deserves much better treatment from the boxing fans of Quebec than what he received on Saturday night. A gang of idiots who threw garbage into the ring and started fights do not represent the majority of boxing fans here.

I would love to see a rematch, but I understand it won’t happen anytime soon. Which is maybe a good thing for Steven Butler. Maybe he needs to have some time to think about what happened on Saturday night and how he conducted himself.

Congratulations to Brandon Cook for his fine win. And good luck to Steven Butler, who I hope will openly acknowledge what went wrong and apologize to his rival.

And finally, congratulations to the other boxers on the card who performed so well: Simon Kean, Josh O’Reilly, Ablaikhan Khussainov, Ayaz Hussain, Mathieu Germain, Batyr Jukembayev and Yves Ulysse Jr. We should not let the unfortunate ending to the night overshadow the accomplishments of the other boxers.        — Cedrick Daniel Halley

Ed. Note: This column is translated from the original French version published by Boxingtown Quebec.      

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