by Charles Jay
Lucian Bute probably benefited from not fighting in Showtime’s Super Six tournament, because after all those guys beat each other up, he was still standing as an undefeated 168-pound champion, doing it his way, and had not suffered from lack of network exposure in the U.S., having been showcased on Showtime as well. But I guess there’s a flip side to that; the network wanted him to fight Andre Dirrell, and he didn’t see the point, so he will engage with Carl Froch, and interestingly enough, travels to Froch’s home turf of Nottingham for this IBF title bout that will be shown stateside through the pay-per-view facilities of Epix.
Bute comes into the fight with a record of 30-0 with 24 KO’s, while Froch is 28-2 with twenty wins inside the distance. Froch, incidentally, suffered those two career defeats in the Showtime tournament, to Mikkel Kessler and Andre Ward, though he didn’t necessarily go easy. During the tourney, he beat Arthur Abraham and Dirrell, and prior to that, had a knockout win over Jermain Taylor, as well as a decision over then-undefeated Jean Pascal. It is very important that we mention all that, for reasons we’ll explain in a few minutes.
My friends at BetAnySports.com have listed Bute as the favorite at -200 with a +170 takeback on Froch (it’s also -310/+255 on the over/under of 9.5 rounds).
As they say in Las Vegas, and everywhere else, I suppose, “the dog is live.”
When you get a first glance at Carl Froch you might wonder how the guy wins fights against world-class opponents. After all, his skill level is not especially high when compared to a lot of other fighters in the top ten. And he is not the most stylish guy you’ll find. But where Froch comes up big is in the “intangibles” department. The best word to describe him might be “relentless,” although other adjectives may fit, such as “dogged” and “determined.”
We can assure you one of those words isn’t “pretty,” but he makes up for that with an awkwardness that has kept a lot of people off-balance.
He doesn’t throw punches in bunches, but he keeps coming at his opponent in such a way that you’ve got to fight three minutes of every round. That’s an expression we use quite a bit, but it really applies here, because when you’re busy, you’re not giving your opponent as much time to be deliberate in there, since he has to spend more time reacting.
I can’t imagine Froch not being busy from the beginning in this fight. And when a fighter is busy, he can sometimes score points with judges even if he is not being altogether effective. That’s where the crowd comes in. You’re going to hear loud and enthusiastic reaction whenever Froch does something that even looks like it’s positive. In his hometown, that will create some influence in the judges, no matter where they’re from.
I don’t know how big a factor Bute’s foot infection, which started as a blister and then spreads up his leg a bit, is going to be here. What I do know is that they did not want word of that to get out, held it back even from the British promoters, and were very upset when we broke the story here at Boxing Insider. Could he have used more time? That’s something we’re only going to get an answer to after the fight.
One thing you have to say about Froch is that he run the gauntlet of tough opponents. In succession, he has fought Pascal, Taylor, Dirrell, Kessler, Abraham, perennial contender Glen Johnson, and Ward.
Not to be disrespectful to Bute, because he is a legitimate fighter, but he is relatively unproven by comparison. He has fought some capable opponents, to be sure, but let’s be honest; if you had the opportunity to pave a road for somebody to get through nine defenses, in one of the few divisions that has a little depth, you would probably pick the guys he has faced. He’s certainly been dealt some favorable cards, and some of his title challengers were “gifted” in qualifying for a championship bout.
On top of that, he has had home cooking all the way. You’d have to go back to his eighth pro fight – a scheduled six-rounder – to find a situation where he was not fighting in either his native or adopted home territory (Canada, specifically Quebec). There is no question he has been steered well by the people at InterBox.
But he is in a different element in this encounter; for the first time as a main event fighter, he is the “road team,” and as such he is truly going from one end of the spectrum to the other. This is a “no-man’s land” for him, and simply as a part of basic handicapping, I don’t think it is unfair to question how he’ll react, especially as he’ll have a very diligent guy in front of him.
So let’s see – we have (a) an experienced, capable former champion, who (b) has been in with MUCH stronger opposition, (c) isn’t afraid to throw punches, (d) has an awkward style to show this southpaw, (e) fully prepared to wage a war of attrition, (f) is fighting in his very rabid hometown against someone who has yet to venture out of his cocoon, and (g) is getting a price besides.
On general principles, that guy is worth a play. It’s no shame to lose to Andre Ward, as a lot of others are going to do the same. Unless Froch is a shot fighter (and I doubt he is), I’ll be looking for him to take Bute places he’s never been before (and I don’t mean Nottingham), while grinding his way to a decision win.