Michael Rosenthal

Bute focused on Magee but looks forward to even bigger fights

Lucian Bute doesn’t want to talk much about the future beyond Saturday night, when he’ll face heavy underdog Brian Magee in a super middleweight fight Saturday before his adopted hometown fans in Montreal.

The blue print for bigger and better things is in place, though.

Bute, who decided not to take part in the Super Six World Boxing Classic, signed a multifight deal with Showtime that puts him in position to face his Super Six rivals in the near future.

That would allow the Romanian-born Canadian the opportunity to take the next step on his steady path toward stardom. He had hoped to fight Mikkel Kessler in this fight but the Dane hadn’t recovered sufficiently from an injury.

“When I signed with Showtime, I knew the big fights were coming up,” he said through a translator on a conference call, “like Kessler and the other guys in the Super Six. I wanted that (Kessler) fight. I thought I would fight him in March but he didn’t heal enough in time after his injury.

“So I had to … get another opponent. And I got the best out there in Brian Magee. Once I defend my title, then we can make a fight with Kessler or anybody else out there.”

Bute (27-0, 22 knockouts) already has made believers out of most observers, plowing through a solid array of opponents with his impressive all-around skills and power. He seems to be more and more dominating in each fight.

He has knocked out his last four opponents and six of his last seven – all in title fights, which is a significant accomplishment.

Thus, it’s no surprise that he has already crept into some Top 10 pound-for-pound lists. That includes the Yahoo! Sports poll, one of the most-respected in the world.

However, he still has much to prove. His victories over the likes of Librado Andrade, Edison Miranda and Sakio Bika are impressive but he must beat the likes of Andre Ward, Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler if he hopes to realize greatness.

Bute has said his goal is to enter the International Boxing Hall of Fame one day. He was asked what it would take to get there but said only that wants to take things one step at a time.

That’s probably one reason he has been so successful: steely focus on the task at hand.

“I definitely want to be in the Hall of Fame,” he said. “This day I’m concentrating on Brian Magee and nothing else. I want to give a good performance, to win that fight. And once I get rid of that obstacle on Saturday, I’ll see what else I have to do to advance my career and eventually become a Hall of Famer.”

Bute said he respects Magee, a 35-year-old Irishman who has battled through several disappointments to win British and European titles and go 9-0-1 in his last 10 fights (34-3-1, 24 KOs overall).

He also said that Magee’s offense-minded style will play into his hands.

“I think Brian Magee’s style is perfect, custom-made for me,” said Bute, who will be defending his IBF belt. “I love aggressive fighters who come to fight. Fighters who don’t take a step back are a plus for me. I won’t tell you what my strategy will be.

“I’ll guarantee you he’ll be hurt on Saturday night.”

Then it’s on to those career-defining fights, in which we’ll know with certainly whether Bute is merely a very good fighter or worthy of the Hall of Fame.

“I can’t wait for the Super Six to finish,” he said, “so I can fight the guys available out there.”

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