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Bute vs. Froch Still Possible for April/May

by Hans Olson

In a story first reported by Jean-Luc Legendre of RDS, Carl Froch has been named the mandatory challenger to Lucian Bute by the IBF. Bute, who has worn the IBF’s Super Middleweight Championship since 2007 when he knocked out Alejandro Berrio, last made a mandatory defense in July of 2011. In that particular bout, he iced the then-undefeated Jean-Paul Mendy in 4 rounds. Per the IBF’s rules, Bute must make a mandatory defense every 9 months, which would put this mandatory due by April.

Froch, who was last seen in a losing effort to Andre Ward in December, was elevated to mandatory status from his # 5 rating because the top 2 positions were vacant. The next two contenders—#4 rated Arthur Abraham and #3 rated Edwin Rodriguez—are already scheduled in other bouts.

Which is where some of the confusion starts.

Although the # 3 rated Rodriguez is fighting the #11 rated Donovan George on March 17…it’s unclear if the bout will be sanctioned as an official IBF eliminator for a higher rating. You would think it would…because the #15 rated Adonis Stevenson is fighting the #12 rated Jesus Gonzales on February 18 in a voluntary eliminator for the #2 spot.

Abraham doesn’t even have an opponent set for his proposed March 31st fight.

Also, #11 Donovan George was supposed to have faced #6 rated Librado Andrade last December in an eliminator…but the bout was called off when George’s team protested the small dimensions of the 15×15 ring that was staged that evening.

Furthermore, it was reported by Boxing Scene’s Edward Chaykovsky on February 7 that Froch vs Andrade was a fight being discussed as an IBF eliminator May 5 in Nottingham.

And now this…which brings us back to Froch.

Chaykovsky yesterday reported that IBF president Daryl J. Peoples confirmed that Froch was simply now given the mandatory status. This now forces Bute’s promoter Interbox and Froch’s promoter Eddie Hearn to finish a deal within 60 days, or a purse bid will be ordered.

Interbox and Hearn have already been negotiating for weeks as it is. Ideally, the promoters would have liked to have made a 2-fight “home and away” deal in which Bute and Froch fight twice, each fighter getting a fight in their selling regions (Bute in Quebec, Froch in the UK).

When Showtime balked at the proposal, the negotiations stalled. Showtime prefers Bute—who has one fight left on his three fight deal—to fight an American fighter. The ideal rival would be Super Six winner Andre Ward…but that seems unlikely at this point. Ward has shown no intention of taking Bute’s challenge. Other names that Showtime preferred over Froch were Bernard Hopkins (who is now scheduled to fight Chad Dawson on April 28) and Andre Dirrell, who currently has nothing scheduled.

Now that the IBF has given Froch mandatory status, it will be interesting to see what Interbox and Hearn do, and if Showtime will jump onboard with a Bute/Froch showdown. Chaykovsky also noted in his story that Interbox’s communication manager David Messier didn’t rule out Bute being open to fighting Froch overseas.“It is also possible that Lucian may want to fight in England,” said Messier.

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