Carl Froch is back home in Nottingham, England, after three years on the road, which the two-time super middleweight beltholder believes gives him a crucial edge in his bid to dethrone undefeated IBF super middleweight titleholder Lucian Bute on Saturday at the FM Arena.
It’s fair to say Froch (28-2, 20 knockouts) is one of boxing’s most well-travelled elite fighters – unlike Canada-based Bute (30-0 24 KOs), who aside from one trip back to his native Romania, has not fought outside Quebec since 2005. Hence, Froch, 34, is brimming with confidence ahead of a challenge many are tipping him to lose.
History, though, suggests otherwise as the British star boasts a perfect 13-fight winning streak in his home town.
“The last time I fought here was three years ago, and before that was when I won the world title against Jean Pascal. That was in December 2008, and it was a fantastic evening. The place was electric, and the noise was bouncing off the ceiling, ” said the former WBC titleholder, who in December was beaten by WBA titleholder Andre Ward in the final of the Super Six World Boxing Classic.
“It’s not the biggest arena. It holds 9,000, not the 25,000 you get in some other places around the country,” Froch said. “But it’s big enough to command plenty of noise, plenty of atmosphere and plenty of respect. Lucian Bute is going to be feeling the crowd for sure.
“The Nottingham people make a lot of noise, especially the Nottingham Forest football fans when they get their chants going. All my work will be cheered and applauded, and I’m looking forward to a very special evening.”
Froch is currently rated No. 2 in THE RING’s 168-pound rankings, with Bute at No. 1, behind the magazine’s champion Ward, who holds the WBA and WBC belts. Froch is the first to accept he was well below par against Ward in Atlantic City, N.J., last year but insists he will put the record straight this weekend. He also claims Bute has yet to show he can cope with authentic world-class talent.
“Ward beat me fair and square. He landed a couple more digs than me, and he kept out of the way and made it an awkward, spoiling fight.” said Froch. “He got through and won it over 12 rounds on points. Two of the judges had it 115-113, and if I’d won one more round it would have been a draw. So I did not get the beating many have suggested or written about. I was not obliterated. I did not get totally outclassed.
“I’ve never been beaten up in my life, and I’ve never been knocked out in my life. I am not that sort of fighter. I am too strong and fit, and I always know where I am in a ring. I can go in with the very best of them. I just had a bad night, and Andre had a good night.
“Bute has only fought Brian Magee and Glen Johnson. That’s it. Now, I’m not saying that means he isn’t a great fighter or a world beater and that he can’t dominate at world level. Not at all. What I am saying is he’s not proven at this level. He’s untried. This is where we’ll find out how good Bute is.
“I‘m confident he doesn’t have what it takes to beat someone like me at the top of my game,” Froch continued. “And there is no better place than the FM Arena for me to be at the top of my game. I’m fired up for this. I’m very fit and I‘m punching hard. “
As for the two years he is giving to Bute, who is 32, Froch reckons the age gap counts for nothing as he is still at the pinnacle of his powers. Then there is the opportunity to make an indelible mark in the boxing annuals.
“I’m 34, but I’m a late bloomer,” he said. “I’m very much at my peak, the weight’s right, and I have the desire and determination to stick it on Bute from round one to round 12. If that’s what’s necessary, that’s what I’m prepared to do.
“Whichever way you dissect it, Bute is in for a tough, tough night. I’m going to bring it to him every single second of every single round. I’m not 24, so I’m no spring chicken, but neither am I 44 and a silver fox. As I said, I’m very much in my prime.
“Superstardom beckons,” Froch said. “I can be a three-time world champion by fighting the best one after another, consecutively, and go down in the Hall of Fame as an all-time great. That’s what I’m aiming for.”
Photo / Emily Harney-Fightwireimages.com