EPIX Conference Call Transcript: Lucian Bute, Carl Froch, & Sugar Ray Leonard
EPIX, the multiplatform premium entertainment service, will continue its series of live world championship broadcasts when it presents undefeated International Boxing Federation (IBF) super middleweight champion LUCIAN BUTE against two-time World Boxing Council (WBC) super middleweight champion CARL “The Cobra” FROCH. Promoted by Matchroom Sport, Ltd. and InterBox, the Bute vs. Froch World Super Middleweight Championship will be televised live in the U.S., from Nottingham, England, exclusively on EPIX, Saturday, May 26, beginning at 6 p.m. ET / 3 p.m. PT. EPIX will stream the fight live as part of a special free trial offer for boxing fans on EpixHD.com and on EPIX apps on Xbox, Roku players, and more.
The EPIX Sports broadcast team — NBC’s Bruce Beck, five-division world champion and Hall of Fame inductee Sugar Ray Leonard, ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael and Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix — will be ringside calling every second of this potential Fight of the Year. The telecast will also feature Hall of Fame-elect trainer Freddie Roach presenting the Keys to Victory for this mega fight.
As has become the custom, EPIX will once again present the closed-captioned simulcast of this world championship rumble on the jumbotron in Times Square in New York City (Broadway between 44th and 45th).
Bute (30-0, 24 KOs), will be making his 10th world title defense. A newly-minted Canadian Citizen, Bute is a native of Galat, Romania who now fights out of Montréal, Québec, Canada. When he travels to Froch’s (28-2, 20 KOs), backyard in Nottingham it will be the first time Bute has not fought on Canadian or Romanian soil since 2004. These two gladiators boast a combined record of 59-2 (44 KOs) – a 97% winning percentage and a 75% victory by knockout ratio.
Q: It’s quite unusual for Lucian Bute to actually leave Canadian soil to take a world championship fight, but he’s doing it and he’s going to your backyard. What are your thoughts on your upcoming title challenge?
Carl Froch: Well, to comment on him leaving his hometown I think he’s had to do that now. He’s been in the position (inaudible). I think they’ve all been in Canada or North America. So, he’s never really traveled away. I think he fought in his native Romania early on in his career.
But he’s never been on the road and defended his title like champions are supposed to do. And again you know move out of their hometown, their comfort zone and box away. So, I think he’s in an important position where he’s had to do that.
And you know let’s give him credit. It’s not easy to come away from home. He’s flying over the Atlantic and he’s coming to my backyard. So, give him credit where credit’s due. He’s taking a big chance and a big gamble. But he’s obviously very confident.
And let’s not forget he’s got the taste in there of the rematch clause in the back of his mind what it might be, might not be. I don’t know well enough to say what he’s thinking. But he’s probably got the comfort of knowing that – you know the safety net of knowing that if he gets beat he’s got the rematch back in his hometown Montreal. So, he’s got that in the back of his mind as well.
So, he’s in a good position from that point of view. But I’m sure he’s going to be coming over here to defend his title. And it becomes the toughest fight of his life against you know the best fighter, as far as I’m concerned, to ever box.
Yes, I’ve been beat. I lost my last fight. And he might be thinking that as well he’s coming of the back of a loss. But that was against a very good Andre Ward, very tricky sport in the top five, three Andre Ward. (Inaudible) Andre. I’m not here to give him any credit that may stick, but it’s hard to beat Ward. And you know I got beat by someone who’s very, very good. So, I’m not taking too much negativity in terms of a confidence block into this fight between me and Bute.
This is a great match-up. It’s a great fight. And anybody can win it. I feel I’m going to win the fight, I really do. I promise that I’m going to beat Bute. He’s not mixed with my sort of level before and (inaudible) to fight me in my hometown and all of the pressure of who’s going to be on. He’s traveled over I think last week. I think he’s two weeks over. I just think he’s got a mountain to climb. He might shock everybody. You never know. But I’m very, very confident.
He’s coming over here; he’s going to get beat. I’m going to be IBF champ. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure I win that belt.
I’ll settle down so you can ask the next question. Sorry about that.
Q: Ray, since you will be ringside as part of the EPIX broadcast team, how do you analyze this fight between these two great champions?
Ray Leonard: Well, it’s a very intriguing match-up. You have Carl Froch, who if you listen to him he has no confidence (laughing). I mean, that’s what it takes first and foremost. You have to believe in yourself, believe in your ability.
I’ve seen Carl fight a number of times. I think one of the most impressive fights was when he fought Jermain Taylor. You know if my memory serves me correctly Carl came back and knocked him out.
And I was very impressed with that because that showed intestinal fortitude. You can’t teach that. That is within. A lot of fighters tell you what they’re going to do, this and that; and that’s just the art of verbal confrontation. But when you prove it like Carl has in the past, you know what? This fight should be pretty exciting.
Q: Carl you mentioned in your opening remarks, or when you answered the first question there about – you mentioned you’re coming off the loss to Andre Ward giving him a lot of credit for being a tricky guy to fight.
I just wonder, when that Super Six ended it had been a long road to get to that final. I know you were very disappointed with the way that fight unfolded and the result. Can you talk about just the mental aspect of you know moving past that and getting over that, and now – and all of a sudden finding yourself with another great opportunity to win one of the other titles?
Carl Froch: Yes. Following on the Ward loss, which was obviously a devastating defeat for me and my career. And my mentality and where I am, I’m a winner. I like to win fights.
I know I lost the very first decision to Mikkel Kessler, but that was – I guess from Mikkel Kessler’s advantage point that was (inaudible). And it was a close fight because he had a couple of problems leading up to that, one of them being the kind of cash cloud that they let me fly by week or 10 days, which wasn’t a hard deal.
But no excuses, I got beat by a guy who’s fit, tough and strong, and that’s (inaudible). But I feel that (inaudible) not only would I have been (inaudible) instead of (inaudible), I would’ve also – the confidence would’ve been higher and (inaudible) this sport (inaudible) top level. And even that performance in Kessler enough Ward enough to win.
But the fact that it would’ve been after him I wouldn’t have flown in and took a bit of weight off and you know flown in the next cloud very late two days before the fight; so, no excuses past that fight. You know that’s what happened there, and I’m mentally well over that.
The Ward loss was very frustrating. It was one fight that was on the buildup I knew it was going to be a hard night’s work. I knew it was tricky. I knew it was a spoiler. I know what he does. What he does, he does well. He’s fast and he was catching me with left hooks and I was pulling out, pulling out, you know, just trying to (inaudible).
I know where I went wrong. But again, it wasn’t a loss where I go back to the drawing board and say I don’t belong at this level, I’m not good enough. You know I’m not a very good fighter, it’s time to retire. It wasn’t one of those losses.
It’s a loss where two of the judges, whether it’s right or wrong, it was 115-113, and I’m sure there’s a scorecard the American and the Canadian very close. And because of my up close game Ward actually probably a lot more shots go in close quarters, small leaning on me that has had on me. And he was holding this and doing what he does very well for a few more points and relax a little bit. Mayweather was up close, get a left shoulder and the elbow and just fake a couple of body shots and you know roll and different move.
The fight could’ve been even closer. I could’ve won the fight. I mean, would’ve, should’ve and could’ve — and I got beat fair and square by the better guy on the night. But what I’m saying is it wasn’t meant for me and you know didn’t kill my confidence, it really didn’t. I look to Ward what a great fighter he is and I came very close to anyone else has come to beating him. It was a close fight.
So you know I need to be at world title level fights, league level fights. So, I’m jumping out straight in with a world champion. (If I don’t beat) the world champion, so I don’t think Bute is as good as Ward and I’m not sure if he’s as good as Kessler or Andre Dirrell or Jermain Taylor. I really don’t because he’s only fought Brian McCain, Glen Johnson.
So, it’s a sort of try and work out what it is. It’s hard levels and styles that make fights. But when you look at his record and his resume then tune in to find out the net of two names. And I’ve beat both the same fight (inaudible) myself seven years ago. I broke my hand in Round 2 and I knocked him out.
So you know mentally – mentally I’m confident. I’m switched on. I’m ready. And I’m not licking my wounds. I’m not sulking. I’m not feeling sorry for myself because I lost my last fight. I’m really not. I’m taking confidence from that loss. I know where I went wrong and I know what I need to do to put it right. And I can beat Lucian Bute I’m going to be a three-time world champion. That’s the kind of stuff legends are made of.
You’ve got the legend himself, Sugar Ray Leonard on the call. And it’s an absolute honor to have Sugar Ray Leonard. It’s unbelievable actually he’s on the call listening to me. And I’m not talking to him because I watched him when I was even a boxing amateur when I was (four years ago) and I got back into the amateur at the age of 19.
And I was watching Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran and just mesmerized and amazed. And you know this legend; this guy on the phone now is in this conversation. And that’s what I want to do. I want to secure my legacy by beating Lucian Bute.
I’ll never be as good as Sugar Ray Leonard. I’ll never look like him because he is just phenomenal. But I’m a step closer towards securing that legacy. And that’s what I want. So, I’m taking this fight so serious. I’m so confident and I need to be at my best to win. And what an opportunity to my hometown fans in Nottingham; it’s pretty much all on my terms in being in Nottingham, England. They probably altered it (inaudible) he thinks he’s defending his title in England, all I’m saying.
And people can think what they like on the Ward loss, and they can think OK I lost a close spot to Kessler, can he finish (inaudible). People can say what they want. All I know is I’ve been training hard, hard. I’m fit, I’m strong and I’m ready for this fight. I’m looking forward to it and I cannot wait.
Q: One thing that’s a lot different between Ward and the opponent you’ll face in Lucian Bute, he’s a southpaw. I wonder just your general thoughts about facing a lefty, which I don’t think you’ve done a lot of. You have in your career, but not a lot.
Carl Froch: No, but nobody has. Nobody’s fought a southpaw…
Q: No, I’m just saying how does that play into your – the way you’ve trained or your mental preparation or your physical preparation for this fight to be facing a guy that can be (inaudible) because of that.
Carl Froch: Mentally there’s no difference at all. You know I do my hard work, my fitness, my grasp. I get that done so I’m super fit. And physically I obviously spar left-handed fighters. I’m sparring with southpaws. So, every single southpaw I’ve every boxed in my whole career I’ve beat.
You know I think there’s an exception with the world championship amateur final or semifinal. I lost to a southpaw Andre Dirrell. But it’s (inaudible) around boxer moving and kept (inaudible) in the last round.
I box southpaws (inaudible) amateurs, all southpaw fighters. So to avoid seeing southpaw you know Lucian Bute went tall grounds to (inaudible). I got him in two rounds. I was too big and strong and I knocked him out in the second or third round I think it was.
(Inaudible) southpaw. Andre Dirrell, I mean he fought most of the fight southpaw. And you know who wants to fight Dirrell? Let’s be honest. What a skillful, great fighter he is.
I know Sugar Ray Leonard – we’ve got Sugar Ray on the phone, and fast hands, skillful, moves well. So, I don’t think he’s got that mental demeanor which you know Sugar Ray Leonard’s got. You know you can’t compare him on that side of things.
But you need so many different attributes within a complete fighter to be a legend. You don’t just need speed and skill and movement. You also need the heart and the courage and the guts. And I just think Dirrell maybe – maybe needs to build that and try and work on that a little bit, some confidence because I don’t know. He was scared when he fought me that night. He (inaudible) fought all night (inaudible). But yes, very tall range of skillful southpaw and I cope with him no problem.
Q: How have you changed as a boxer since beating Jean Pascal in 2008? What sort of a boxer are we going to see?
Carl Froch: If you look at the Jean Pascal fight then look at me when I boxed I don’t know, Jermain Taylor, I got put down for the first time in my career in Round 3. And then I got up in Round 3 and then boxed through Round 4 to Round 10, just boxing down the type of movement until I saw the – I saw my legs go, Taylor caught a good right hand.
And then I did sort of get the amazing stoppage, a dramatic stoppage in the last round, which I needed by the way on my scorecards because obviously it was doing me no favors out there. But you know I showed boxing ability there. But I think after the defeat with Kessler where I took him on (inaudible) and that fight took place almost to 12 rounds.
After that loss I then boxed Arthur Abraham and just totally outfoxed him. The smallest victory, me just boxing the move in and putting five and six-points combinations together and then moving, not staying in range, not giving him a chance to hit me back, slip and sliding, (inaudible), nice defend, boxing master class.
So, that came from – from the fight I had prior to that. And obviously since then I’ve boxed Johnson. I’ve boxed – and I’ve boxed Andre Ward. So you know I learn a lot every single time. So you’re going to see a more complete round of fighter in this fight.
I’m learning now and I’ve learned how to box, been more composed and been a bit more patient with what I’m doing. And when the time’s there, if I catch Lucian you know I’ll step into range and I’ll let some big shots go. But I won’t be looking for big shots in Round 1.
I won’t be loading – I won’t be showing him stuff, what to lead with. Especially by a skillful southpaw who’s got range. You know if I load up and try to bang him out early I’m just going to walk into counterpunches all night long, and he’d absolutely love that. So, I’ve learned how to box, be patient and you know I’ve – I’ve improved my boxing ability and my overall ring crust. So, you’re going to see that and solid maintenance after that.
Q: And when we asked Stephan Larouche [Bute’s trainer] last week what he liked about you he said it was your strong, granite chin, you can take a punch.
Carl Froch: I’m not the kind of fighter that gets hit with a lot of shots. I don’t get hit that much. I got hit by Glen Johnson more than what he hit Lucian Bute. And probably what I did I got a couple rounds off Glen Johnson. And if I got hit with a couple balls, maybe 10 balls; and I may have fell over.
You know the best chin in the business is the one that doesn’t get hit. And the majority you’re not getting hit that’s the next one, whether it’s made of granite or not. Because obviously eventually it can break and you can find yourself on the floor like Jermain Taylor. But Lucian Bute’s not going to hit me any more than any other previous skillful, top-level, elite-level fighters and above.
So, I’m not worried about him accumulatively handling shots on me. I don’t get hit with that many shots. I get hit with silly shots now and again, shots I shouldn’t get hit with. I’m not concerned about what Lucian Bute’s thought about doing or whether who said it or he said it.
At the end of the day it’s my job not to get hit and I’m working on my boxing ability and my defense, and I’ve learned a lot in my last two or three years as a pro. So, I’m not worried. I’m really not.
Q: Carl, when you look at other guys in your category, the guys that have fought in the Super Six or guys that have been in the top two these last couple years. When you guys talk about Lucian Bute, I’m talking maybe Andre Ward or Mikkel Kessler or Jermain Taylor. What do you guys say about Lucian Bute? Has he earned your respect? Or do you guys still feel like – do you believe the hype? Do you feel like this fight here is his first chance to really put himself on the map if he goes head-to-head with you and has a good performance? What are your thoughts on that?
Carl Froch: Yes, the latter, the latter. I agree with what you just said, that this is his chance now to go you know go into the lion’s den to fight somebody who’s proven at world level because I am proven at world level. I beat Jean Pascal who went onto beat Chad Dawson. I know it’s on paper. I beat the man who beat the man. You know Chad Dawson’s a great fighter. I think he’s fighting Andre Ward next as well. But we’re not here to talk about that.
You know I’ve been there with Pascal, Jermain Taylor, Andre Dirrell, who is a great fighter, Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham. I don’t need to reel them off, but very top level, elite level fighters.
You can’t name the names of you know – look at Bute’s resume and some the same. He hasn’t. And that doesn’t mean he’s not a great fighter and he’s not good enough to do that and go in there and beat them. But what it does mean is we don’t know. We just don’t know.
So, yes, you’re right. We’re going to find out aren’t we? We’re going to find out next Saturday if he has got enough to mix it at this level. And that’s basically I think answers your question.
You know if you’re going to ask me if I think he’s good enough personally, I don’t 100 percent know if he’s good enough to mix it, but again, I’m going to find out. But before this fight I would say he’s not fought anybody. He doesn’t deserve to be ranked number one or number two for the boxing (inaudible).
He doesn’t deserve this ranking (inaudible) body (inaudible) ranked in the top – you know the highest level ranking. But it’s on a point system, some rankings. So, sometimes you see some ridiculous markings for people that really have not boxed anybody. And this is one of them.
You know Lucian Bute on paper is overrated. He’s an unbeaten fighter and he’s answered every question that’s been asked of him so far. Although you do have to remember that he got absolutely knocked out by Librado Andrade and saved by the bell, saved by the referee or whoever saved him in that last round because he was done, finished and even in final points. Let’s be honest, he lost the fight, by knockout.
Q: Carl, you talked about Lucian coming to your town. Could you talk about the comforts of home, being with your son? Why is that better? And obviously you had a rough time going over to fight Kessler. But how is that helping you as opposed to you know a lot of guys like to get away from all that, that animal mentality. But you don’t seem to need that.
Carl Froch: No, it’s not so much being at home and being with my son right now. That’s really got nothing to do with it because one, I spent 97 percent of the time in (Chatfield) and I live in Nottingham. So, I’m in a hotel. And when I am at home I’m evicted to the guest room. I’m not even sleeping in the same bed as my partner. And you know I don’t get disturbed in the morning because I’ve been going to sleep past 1:00, 2:00 AM and getting up at 10:00 with eye patch and earplugs. And I’ve been saving my body for a flight a little bit later on (inaudible) 12:00.
It’s the very fact that I haven’t had to pack my suitcase and fly over the Atlantic and check into a new hotel or apartment. And you know for the last two fights I spent it in Manhattan in New York and I was flagging down yellow cabs every day for three weeks to get to and from the gym. And it’s quite mentally draining.
You know you get back to your apartment and then you’ve got sort of Whole Foods and get some food and then get up in the morning, walking down the blocks and blocks to get to Central Park. Then you do your run and you know it’s strange territory. You’re in the gym, you don’t know anybody so you do what training you can. But that familiarity’s gone and you don’t know where you are and what you’re doing.
For the Ward fight it was the second time I’ve done it. And I’ve done the whole New York, Manhattan thing in May and June for the fight in June with Johnson. And then I did it again in November/December for the fight in December with Ward. And come December when I fought Ward it was like Groundhog Day.
I was stuck in Manhattan, flagging cabs, back to the same gym. And the Trinity gym was fabulous and it was great there. But it was like I said, Groundhog Day. And it was mentally draining and I had enough.
I almost just wanted it over. I wanted it finished with and I wanted to get back and have Christmas with my beautiful family, my little boy who’s not even two years old yet. And I was – you know by the time the Ward fight came around, fight night I’m talking about, I was looking forward to plane the next day and getting home and relaxing and having a good Christmas.
I wasn’t thinking to myself it’s time to go to work; it’s time to taste the blood or get in there and go to war and go to that dark, lonely place in the trenches if necessary. You know I wasn’t really prepared for that. My own fault, nobody else’s; it’s just where I was mentally with it.
For this fight I’m at home, training fantastic. I’m hitting all my runs. I know what I’m doing in the gym, sparring. I mean, I’m getting ready to spar now. I’ve come up with my brother from Nottingham; he drove me up. But (inaudible) afternoon in shopping center. I’ve put my feet up and I relax (inaudible) some energy food. And I’m going to go and spar now and there’s going to be a lot of time.
I’m doing a 12-round spar, and I’m taking it like I’m fighting this evening. And I’m switched on and ready. And I’m really looking forward to it. And I’ll do the same again tomorrow and Saturday, which is a week before the fight.
So, I think the whole build up in the fight and I know where I am, what time I’m there, what I’m doing, my food’s correct. I know what I’m eating and when I’m eating it. And you know I just got – I’m surrounded by my family and friends and I can feel the love and the warmth.
And I know it’s my town in Nottingham and all the crowd’s going to be cheering for me. And that’s a big difference when it’s across (Chatfield) and you know we let these shots go and (inaudible) as opposed to letting these shots go. And silently you can hear a pin drop in Denmark. It lifts you – it lifts you to the next level if you do that.
It might motivate – it might motivate Bute to be away from home. It depends on what kind of person you are and what your personality is. And I’ve proven I’m good on the road. I’m well-traveled. I can always perform on the road.
But I don’t care who you are or what you say or what your mentality is or what your personality is, I just think it’s better to be around familiarity and around comfort so you can relax and you have faith and you’re confident and you succeed in life, including boxing. But that’s my opinion. You know I may or may not be wrong. But hopefully that’s answered your question.
Q: You spoke about the atmosphere. Bute, from what I’m told, is trying to emulate the noise and the frenetic atmosphere that you probably will have in your favor. And I’m told right down to the voice of your wife. I don’t know if you’ve heard that they have a soundtrack. They’re emulating everything right down to the voice of your – of Rachel. Has your wife heard that?
Carl Froch: I’ve heard that. I’ve seen it on YouTube. You know that might be some psychology (inaudible) what you do in playing that, this will help you, this will get you ready. There’s only (inaudible) Rachel screaming (inaudible) isn’t going to prepare him for 9,000 people in the Nottingham arena.
Q: Is it going to prepare him for Rachel?
Carl Froch: It’s not just the noise. It’s the feelings, the vibrations. You can feel the noise. You can’t just hear it. It’s deafening in the arena. I mean I know he’s fighting in front of 17,000 or whatever it is in the Bell Centre, but the very reserved crowd that sort of sit there and behave and don’t make much noise. The atmosphere in the Nottingham arena, he’s not going to be ready for that. And you know playing the tapes and making noise, it may or may not help him.
I don’t – I don’t know if it’s going to or not. I think he’s very comical if you want an honest answer. It’s quite funny that he’s doing that. But other than – other than laughing about it I don’t really have anything else to say, to be honest. It can only be worse with Rachel screaming while I’m trying to train, bloody hell.
Q: Ray, I know you fought in a lot of different cities and ended up at the latter part of your career fighting in Las Vegas. How big a factor is it for Bute who has fought so many fights in Canada or Romania, his home, his native country, respectively, to be going across the pond to defend his title for the first time not just in another land, but in the opponent’s hometown?
Ray Leonard: I didn’t realize that he fought the majority of his fights in Canada. It could be culture shock. It could be something he’s not used to. But for some reason I think he will rise to the occasion.
Q: How your training is going and how – how is it acclimating to England? I understanding you’re over there in England now finishing your training.
Lucian Bute: I feel really good. The time zone is getting good for me. I’m getting acclimated right now, and I will get anything we need here. Nice hotel, nice gym, all the facilities. It’s a little chilly in terms of temperature, but that’s part of the game. So far, so good.
Q: This fight you have taken in Nottingham in Carl Froch’s hometown after many – all of your fights either in Canada, one in Romania as far as being a champion. And I just wanted to hear your thoughts about what was it that prompted you to make the decision to go overseas and take a very dangerous fight in your opponent’s hometown, which is not something that a lot of – a lot of fighters do.
Lucian Bute: I was in line to fight the winner of the Super Six for a different reason than Ward receives to fight me and I kind of respect his decision. So, I made a choice. I said I’m going to fight Carl Froch.
So, we made him an offer to come to Montreal. He turned it down. And maybe he was right saying that he was away from home for a while. He wanted to fight at home. So, we just told his promoter make us an offer. We’re going to go defend the belt in your place and we’ll prove everybody wrong that I’m only fighting in Montreal. So, I asked to go out to prove myself.
Q: One of the things that Carl said in his portion of this call was that maybe in the back of Lucian’s mind is the fact that he would take this fight in Nottingham because he has a rematch clause that would call for that second fight to take place in Montreal kind of in his back pocket.
So, even though he’ll of course go in there and try and win and do his best you know he’s got that sort of cushion to fall back on if the worst happens and he were to lose the fight. Is there anything to that in your mind?
Lucian Bute: Maybe he’s saying that to convince himself or to explain to himself why I did agree in coming to set an event