A few days prior to December’s unanimous decision loss to Andre Ward for the RING, WBA, WBC and Super Six super middleweight titles, England’s Carl Froch was taking digs at southpaw IBF counterpart Lucian Bute.
Froch had long insisted that Bute, excluded from the Super Six, never was good enough to be involved in the tournament in the first place.
Froch pointed to the fact that other than once in his native Romania, Bute has never made a title defense outside of his adopted homeland, Canada, as well as to his controversial win over Librado Andrade in October of 2008.
Although Bute won the rematch with Andrade by fourth-round knockout in November of 2009, he had benefitted from a long 10-count in their initial bout, allowing him to rise from a knockdown and avoid being counted out.
“Let’s not forget that Librado Andrade knocked out Lucian Bute in the 12th round of that contest. You have 10 seconds to get yourself ready to carry on fighting, and he didn’t make it within the 10 seconds,” Froch told members of the gathered media during a press conference in Atlantic City, N.J., site of his loss to Ward.
“So he lost that fight by knockout, but he won on points, you see what I’m saying? But that’s what happens in boxing. He’s a big deal in Canada, so that’s why he won that fight over there.”
Bute fired back during his turn at a roundtable the day of Ward-Froch, saying that he would would fight Froch even if Froch lost to Ward.
“For me,” said Bute, “the fight with Froch is personal.”
Having apparently had enough, Bute (30-0, 24 knockouts) has decided to take his title belt, his unbeaten record and his money where Froch’s mouth is — Nottingham, England — to make the 10th defense of his crown.
Bute will fight Froch (28-2, 20 KOs) on May 26 at Capital FM Arena, it was announced on Thursday by Bute’s promoter, Jean Bedard, and Froch’s promoter, Eddie Hearn.
“We are delighted to have agreed to terms for what I believe will be the biggest night for British boxing in many years,” said Hearns, of Matchroom Sport.
“I have to respect Lucian and his team for agreeing to enter the Lion’s Den and face Carl in his hometown of Nottingham but am fully confident that Carl can become a World champion again on this epic night.”
Bute is coming off November’s unanimous decision victory over ex-beltholder Glen Johnson that ended a streak of six straight knockout wins.
“It’s my goal to fight the best boxers in super middleweight division. Carl Froch belongs in the elite of the super middleweight division. It will be a great fight,” said Bute.
“I am very confident and it will not faze me fighting in enemy territory. Supporters of Carl Froch will live their greatest disappointment. The IBF belt will fly roundtrip, Montreal-Nottingham and back.”
Froch won the WBC’s vacant belt by decisioning Jean Pascal in December of 2008, lost it the same way to Mikkel Kessler in April of 2010, and regained it by dominating ex-middleweight beltholder Arthur Abraham in November of the same year.
“We really wanted to press forward with this fight. We’ve been insistent, made some concessions. But it was important to realize this is a fight that Lucian, our fans and our partners wanted. Also, I am convinced that Lucian will silence the critics. Lucian is showing great courage in agreeing to defend his title in enemy territory,” said Bedard, of InterboxBox.
“There is respect between them, but there has been a lot of talking. So Lucian Bute wants to fix this and to prove this by ending the talking of Carl Froch about him. We’re looking forward to it, but for sure, Lucian wants to prove that Froch was wrong all the time that he was saying something bad about Lucian. That’s for sure.”
Froch will be fighting in Nottingham for the first time since October of 2009, when he split-decisioned Andre Dirrell.
Bute had targeted Ward after the Super Six tournament ended, but Ward declined the fight, dismissing Bute as having faced only C-level competition.
Bute has one fight remaining in his contract with Showtime, which was not interested in a fight with Froch, but has given him an out to face him. HBO has also has declined Bute-Froch, meaning the event’s promoters will shop around for a network in America or otherwise.
“They [Showtime] did not [take] the names that we mentioned. Showtime invested tons of money on the Super Six tournament, and the reason why they got Lucian and been behind him with a multi-fight contract was to have him fight the Super Six winner. Unfortunately, Ward was not ready to fight us,” said Bedard.
“So we had to go forward, and we decided to go with Carl Froch. I’m pretty confident that if we do a good performance against Carl Froch, [Andre Ward] stated that Lucian must beat a level-A opponent before fighting him. So, I think that Carl Froch is a level-A opponent, so I don’t think that he will have any more reason to avoid us after this fight.”
Photo by Mike Greenhill/FightWireImages.com
Photo by Tom Casino, Showtime
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org