3 Opponents that Make Sense for Lucian Bute’s Comeback


By Hans Olson

It was revealed today that former IBF super-middleweight champion Lucian Bute will exercise his mandatory rematch clause against current champ Carl Froch, the man who destroyed him in five rounds less than six weeks ago in Nottingham.

But first, both Bute and Froch will fight interim bouts before the March 2013 rematch in Montreal.

Let’s take a look at 3 fighters who would make sense for Bute’s comeback this fall, set to take place in either Quebec or Romania.

Noe Gonzalez

Gonzalez, despite being blasted out by Adonis Stevenson in two rounds back in April on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights, still looms as a formidable foe, especially given the circumstances of Bute’s comeback.

Stylistically, Gonzalez represents much of what Carl Froch is as a fighter, even if on a lesser scale. The free swinging Uruguayan would likely embrace the challenge, for given his last performance in the city, this would be his final shot on the world stage. One assumes with his career on the line, Noe would bring everything he had on the night.

There are also some who believe that his loss to Stevenson came from the result of an early stoppage by referee Michael Griffith, and perhaps that might help Gonzalez psychologically.

Certainly a tough sell to the premium cable networks, a fight with Gonzalez wouldn’t be met with much fanfare either, especially from the message board mafia of “fans” who would likely scream that a fight with Gonzalez is nothing more than a “soft touch” for Lucian.

Bute’s team at Interbox must certainly realize that, which is why Gonzalez is a long shot here.

But, it could be an easy negotiation, and it would be the perfect “tune-up” fight, which is what the general fight fan realizes is the purpose of such a match like this.

Donovan George

For all his grit and determination, Donovan “Da Bomb” George isn’t viewed as a future champion by many in the boxing world. Sure, the kid can punch, and he has a certain “hardness” about him…but could he compete with Bute? That remains to be seen…but, he’s also willing to fight anyone, anywhere.

It’s for those reasons that we may see George land a big break against a guy like Bute.

George is currently preparing to fight against a rival to be determined on the undercard of Jean Pascal vs. Tavoris Cloud in Montreal on August 11. In fact, as Boxing Insider reported earlier, he may wind up fighting the aforementioned Adonis Stevenson in an IBF title eliminator, should Andre Dirrell and team not come to terms to face the Haitian-born battering ram.

Which is where this becomes a fluid situation. Should Stevenson/Dirrell go through, one expects George to fight an “opponent” and win. In that scenario, with an eliminator out of reach, a fight with Bute would be a gold mine.

Should George get the call and fight Stevenson and win, one would assume he’d wait until his then-mandatory status would kick in, as it would mean a bigger gold mine.

George, like Gonzalez and Froch, is a “bombs-away” type guy. Don’t be surprised if you see Donovan George fighting Lucian Bute in the fall.

Kelly Pavlik

When considering the perfect opponent for Lucian Bute to fight this fall, no fighter makes better sense than the pride of Youngstown, Kelly Pavlik.

In fact, it wouldn’t be the first time that Pavlik was pegged as the perfect foe for Bute. Last year, Pavlik was slated to fight Daryl Cunningham on Showtime in what was to be a “tune-up” itself for Bute. The rumors swirled that should Pavlik win and look good against the hard-luck Detroit native, he and Bute would get it on later that year.

After a bizarre situation where Pavlik pulled out of the fight at the last minute due to his dissatisfaction with his negotiated purse for both the Cunningham fight ($50,000) and the proposed Bute clash ($1.35 million), the bout never materialized.

Pavlik, who fights this weekend on HBO against Will Rosinksy, appears to be in the mix again should he come out victorious. He is one of the most recognizable names in American boxing, and would be the only available name that the premium networks would instantly embrace.

In the ring, Pavlik might even represent a stiffer challenge than Carl Froch. He’s a bigger puncher, with better boxing ability. The big question mark going in would be his mental state, given his previous issues battling alcoholism.

A fight with Kelly Pavlik would be the best thing for Lucian Bute, on every level. There are enough question marks to sell the fight as a “pump-up” to the Froch return. Pavlik presents even more dangers that, if Bute were victorious, would help the Romanian-Canadian resolve any lingering confidence issues in his psyche stemming from the Froch defeat.

Boxing Insider’s Hans Olson can be reached at [email protected]

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