By Hans Olson
Saturday evening in Nottingham, England, Lucian Bute (30-0, 24 KOs) defends his IBF super middleweight championship against British star and Super Six tournament runner-up Carl “The Cobra” Froch (28-2, 20 KOs) in the toughest test of his undefeated career.
On Monday afternoon, Boxing Insider spoke with Bute’s trainer, Stéphan Larouche:
Boxing Insider: Hi Stéphan! So how are you guys enjoying Nottingham?
Stéphan Larouche: “So far, so good! We came yesterday to Nottingham, hitting the gym today. We’re at a nice place, a nice hotel…it’s exactly how we expected. We spent also about, almost nine days in Sheffield prior to being here, so this is our second week already in the UK.”
Is Lucian pretty adjusted to the time difference and everything like that?
Stéphan Larouche: “Right now Lucian is. You know we changed his sleeping habits and hopefully he will feel really good the night of the fight. This is the reason why we came here [sooner than later].”
How is everything going as far as diet, food and everything? You know, a lot of times people say you go over to the UK, the food is different…how are you guys dealing with certain things like that?
Stéphan Larouche: “Here with us, our chef in Sheffield, she’s actually a chef here [at our hotel] and we’re really surprised how people are cooperating with us. She goes to the grocery [store] to buy the food, to buy different things…even the meat, the good steak and she’ll give it to the chef at the hotel and they cook everything for us. So we’ve got a good relationship with everyone here.”
The fight is in a few days or so…what is this last week of preparation going to be over there? Just fine tuning…
Stéphan Larouche: “Fine tuning. You know that, you’ve been following boxing…you know we stay focused. Nice quality workouts, short training…maintain the habits and stay away from things that could get you off focus. That includes people that could get off the plane too early…you know you don’t want to catch a cold. So this is business as usual. This is the nice part. We’ve been working hard.”
And his foot with the infection that had been reported…how has everything healed with that?
Stéphan Larouche: “The foot is perfect, the toe is perfect…if everything wouldn’t be perfect, we wouldn’t be here.”
Now the judges for this fight…it looks like they’ve got an American judge, a Canadian judge, and someone from overseas, is that right?
Stéphan Larouche: “We don’t really pay attention, you know? It’s a matter of Lucian having to be impressive. Everything that he does normally, he’s going to have to do a little bit more of. For Froch, for the minimum amount of work, he’s going to have more reward. In fact, to give kind of an example is that Lucian told me, ‘Stéphan, I will walk into that ring and [and imagine that] I’m going to put the belt vacant so that I have to re-win the belt. So I have to work hard.’”
Have you noticed anything different with Carl? Usually he’s a little bit more vocal than he has been in the build-up to this fight. Do you feel that he’s somewhat surprised that you guys essentially called his bluff going over there to Nottingham?
Stéphan Larouche: “He’s kind of now being a little bit more loud and we hear him, but Lucian does not even [acknowledge] it. The difference between the two men is that, for some reason Carl Froch needs to talk. He needs to criticize people. I don’t know if it’s to pump himself…but we don’t need that. We don’t need to talk bad about anybody. Lucian doesn’t need that to get his motivation. He’s very well motivated, he’s really focused and he doesn’t need to trash talk.”
What do you think is going to have to be the difference in the fight? As far as—it’s probably going to be fairly competitive in the early going—what do you think Lucian is going to have to do that, for example that Andre Dirrell didn’t do when he was over there?
Stéphan Larouche: “Lucian’s been focused to keep doing what he normally does. This is going to be a good fight for him. You’re right, the earlier few rounds are going to be enthusiastic. A lot of will. And on one side there is Carl Froch that never, never gets discouraged. So you have to put that [in] mind. Sometimes fighters, they decline as the round goes on. They’re losing rounds, the get discouraged. But Carl Froch never, never resigns so we’re going to have to stay focused the whole fight.”
Is there anything else that has surprised you guys being overseas right now that you maybe didn’t expect when you got over there?
Stéphan Larouche: “I’m surprised how the people are nice with Lucian! I think the fight that we respect everybody, it pays off. Because here, people they take pictures with Lucian, they wish him good love, they said they like him, they’ve been following him. Also, I think it’s the first time in boxing history that a fighter from our area, our place, from Québec, that will bring so many people at one of his fights across the ocean like this. We’re expecting close to 1,000 people supporting Lucian in the arena.”
How about some of the smaller details? Is Lucian walking walking out first, or second as the champion?
Stéphan Larouche: “We don’t even care about that. I told Lucian, we will do anything we need to do to win this fight. We don’t get distracted by things like this, you know? The only thing is which national anthem we’re going to pick! Romania, or Canada…with Lucian recently being recognized as a Canadian citizen.”
Finally, with this fight over here in North America…Epix, they’re sending their crew over there…the fight is going to be televised right in Times Square in NY…that’s a pretty big deal here, and something Lucian wouldn’t have even gotten on Showtime. What does this fight mean for Lucian as far as American exposure?
Stéphan Larouche: “I think it’s not the thing with exposure…there would still be exposure but I think that just being here is the exposure itself. Just by the fact that we came to fight here. Even with no TV, it would be good exposure in terms of significance of the action and the fact that we are here.”