MONTREAL â€” Brandon Cook scored a stunning victory over Steven Butler when he sent the promising light middleweight to the canvas at the end of the seventh round, sparking a melee among some of the 5,500 fans at the Bell Centre on Saturday night.
Cook (18-0), of Ajax, Ont., retained his own WBA North American title and took the IBF continental belt from Butler (18-1-1).
The 30-year-old Cook rocked Butler with a hard right hook and sent him to the floor with a left. Butler got up before the count, but referee Marlon B. Wright elected to stop the bout at 3:00 of the seventh.
Then it was chaos. Butler, angry that the fight was stopped, shoved Cook as fans threw objects into the ring and started a melee. Cook was knocked down when he was struck in the face by an ice bucket.
“I have mixed feelings,” said 30-year-old Cook. “It was the biggest night of my life.
“It was a great fight. But what happened after was ridiculous.”
Four people were injured and taken to hospital, including two Bell Centre employees. Two men in their 20s were arrested.
Camille Estephan, Butler’s promoter, called the incident “irresponsible and inexcusable.”
Butler, whose hopes of becoming a world champion were set back with the loss, did not attend the post-fight news conference.
Cook, ranked fifth by the WBA, likely got into position for a shot at Erislandy Lara or one of the other light middleweight champions and moved closer to being able to give up his day job as a doors and windows installer.
Butler’s title hopes were set back, but Estephan said the 21-year-old can follow the example of two other Montreal boxers, David Lemieux and Bermane Stiverne, who bounced back from losses to win world titles.
“We gave Steven a challenge thinking he was ready for it,” said Estephan, president of Eye Of The Tiger Management. “He won a few rounds, but I’m told he was lacking energy.
“We’ll have to see with his team, but in the past guys in our company have been able to get back up and be world champions.”
Cook took a risk by agreeing to fight Butler in his hometown. Then he learned that he couldn’t use the 10-ounce gloves he prefers because the Quebec commission mandates eight-ounce mitts for fights at 154 pounds or lower.
Butler started strong, using his jab to control the centre of the ring and win the first two rounds.
Cook answered in the third with two solid hooks and two rights over the top of Butler’s guard.
Butler came back with a strong fourth, but Cook had him backing up in the fifth and hurt him with two sharp hooks in the sixth before finishing the job one round later.
While Butler wanted to continue, Estephan said the referee was right to halt the bout for the fighter’s safety.
And while Butler demanded a rematch in the ring, his promoter suggested that can wait.
“Steven has a lot of character and a lot of talent, “said Estephan. “He will learn from this.”
In the co-feature, 2012 Canadian Olympian Simon Kean (8-0) won all eight rounds on two of three judges’ cards for a heavyweight win over American Avery Gibson (8-6-4).
Frederic Daigle, The Canadian Press