Carl Froch won his third super middleweight title with a sensational fifth-round stoppage of previously undefeated IBF beltholder Lucian Bute in his native Nottingham, England, on Saturday.
Froch (29-2, 21 knockouts), a former two-time WBC titleholder, was considered the underdog going into the highly anticipated matchup but the battled-tested Englishman’s tenacity and aggression quickly overwhelmed the more-talented Bute, who had to be saved by referee Earl Brown two minutes into the fifth round after being hurt and repeatedly rocked along the ropes.
“I feel very satisfied and happy with my performance,” Froch said during a post-fight interview with Chris Manix of Epix, which broadcast the fight in the U.S. “I give credit to Lucian Bute. He hit me very hard, but obviously not hard enough. I’m very tough and I came here to give everything. I have a lot of heart and I had my fans here to cheer me on.”
Froch gave his fans a night to remember by shaking off the best straight left hands and right hooks that Bute could deliver in the first two rounds and swarming the undefeated southpaw in spots whenever he could.
In the third round, Froch hurt Bute with a shot that forced the Canada-based Romanian to the ropes where the local hero pummeled him without mercy. Bute (30-1, 24 KOs) survived the round by holding on for dear life whenever he could.
However, Bute, who was attempting to make the 10th defense of his IBF belt, only delayed the inevitable. Froch continued to walk through Bute’s power shots and unload punches in bunches whenever he was in close range. Bute, sporting a mouse under his left eye, walked back to his stool on wobbly legs after the fourth round.
“I knew I could hurt him,” Froch said. ”I’m a bit of an animal when I see my opponent hurt.”
Froch lived up to his nickname, The Cobra, in the fifth round, striking his wounded prey without mercy. Halfway through the round Bute appeared helpless as he was pressed to the ropes and absorbing head-snapping right hands and uppercuts.
Brown jumped between the fighters to issue Bute a 10-count, obviously — but not clearly — ruling that the Canadian has suffered a technical knockdown, since only the ropes were keeping him on his feet. Froch’s promoter jumped into the ring, assuming – as most in the arena had — that the fight was over.
It would soon be, as Bute’s corner did the right thing and entered the ring themselves to spare their spent fighter any further punishment.
For Froch, the victory made up for what he thought was disappointing showing against Andre Ward in the finals of the Super Six World Boxing Classic tournament, which he lost by unanimous decision last December. Froch announced before the Bute fight that he would have retired if he lost.
The 34-year-old veteran, who landed 97 of 180 power punches against Bute, is not talking about hanging up his gloves now.
“I’m absoultely elated (about his future),” Froch said. ”I brought up retirement before the fight because I put so much heart and soul into training for it that there would have been no point in continuing at my age if I gave it my all and lost.
“I felt like a young man tonight and I performed out of my skin.”
Froch wasn’t interested in a rematch with Ward, who he says has a difficult style which makes for ugly fights. However, he credited the American for giving him the motivation to rebound from the loss in a big way.
Another rematch that was mentioned was the contractual return bout in Canada that Bute could ask for if he’s interested. Froch doesn’t think Bute is.
“I don’t know if he wants to do this again in any country,” he said. “That was one hell of a beating.”
Photos / Scott Heavey-Getty Images Sport