MONTREAL -- Former IBF champion Lucian Bute rebounded from his first defeat by outlasting Denis Grachev in a close bout for the minor NABF light heavyweight title on Saturday night.
Bute, of Canada, won a unanimous decision and improved to 31-1 in his first fight since losing his super-middleweight title to Carl Froch in May. Grachev, of Russia, fell to 12-1-1 despite landing more punches overall.
The ringside judges all favored Bute in their final scores: 115-113, 116-112 and 118-112.
Bute took advantage of a hometown crowd. An announced attendance of 10,122 in the Bell Centre chanted the 32-year-old's name throughout the fight.
Bute fought cautiously for 11 rounds, looking to avoid direct hits while taking single shots at Grachev. In the 12th, though, he dominated, as he stood in the center of the ring daring Grachev, 30, to hit his chin while firing off lefts.
There was question as to whether Bute could take a hard shot to the chin after his five-round loss to Froch, but he was never in serious trouble even though he was backed against the ropes several times.
Next up for Bute (31-1) could be a rematch with Froch in March in Montreal.
In the undercard, former WBC flyweight champion Rodrigo Guerrero (18-4-1) defeated Sebastien Gathier (22-4) in eight rounds.