Lucian Bute was "not surprised" when informed of the results of RingTV.com's poll in which 21 of 22 insiders picked former light heavyweight champ Jean Pascal to beat him in Saturday's 175-pound bout at Bell Centre in Montreal on HBO.
HBO's Jim Lampley called Pascal (28-2-1, 17 knockouts) "the betting favorite" to defeat the Bute (31-1, 24 KOs), who is coming off a unanimous-decision victory over previously unbeaten light heavyweight Denis Grachev in November which followed a fifth-round knockout loss to Carl Froch that cost him his IBF 168-pound belt in May of 2012.
"I'm not surprised. If you look at our records, you can see that he's been having some good fights. I failed against Carl Froch, so I'm not surprised," said Bute, whose subsequent left hand injury forced the postponement of the Pascal bout.
"But this is the first time that I've fought as the underdog. I've never done this before. This is the first time, because I felt that I was favored when I fought Carl Froch, and I've always been the favorite in the past, so this is the first time."
Pascal, who dropped a unanimous decision to Froch as a 168-pounder in December of 2008, has scored a unanimous decision over Aleksy Kuziemski and a fifth-round knockout of George Blades since losing his WBC title via unanimous decision to Bernard Hopkins in May of 2011.
"This is a hard fight, and we all know that, but Lucian can handle him and we know that, too," said trainer Stephan LaRouche, who served as the translator for Bute.
"We all know that if Lucian is able to let his hands go, like he used to, it shouldn't be any problem. It's going to be hard, and it's going to be tough and he's going to get hit and it's going to be rough sometimes, but Lucian has the skills, the tools and the ability and the energy for defeating Jean Pascal."
Underdog or not, Bute agrees with his trainer, saying that he has put the loss to Froch behind him in order to focus on Pascal.
"I'm already extremely motivated for this fight. I don't need anything additional to motivate me. This is a great fight for me, and a great fight for Canada, so I don't need any additional things to motivate me for this fight," said Bute.
"I don't have to listen to anyone else. I know what I need to do in this fight. I don't have any prediction in this fight, but I know that if I fight the fight that I'm supposed to, at the end of the fight, my hands are going to be raised in the air."