By Hans Olson
Boxing Insider caught up with Lucian Bute and his trainer Stéphan Larouche Friday afternoon to discuss their next opponent, what they’ve been up to since the Johnson fight, and much, much more! Check it out!
Boxing Insider: Stéphan, how’s everything been for you since Lucian’s fight with Glen Johnson?
Stéphan Larouche: “For myself it’s been nice, I’ve been back in the gym—I had some time off at the end of November, at that time I was not really in the gym—Lucian went to Romania and I went with myself, my own agenda and Lucian came back early in December. So, I joined Lucian to go to the Super Six final, and in December Lucian was back in the gym. So you know, we’re back in business.”
Boxing Insider: And now you’re down in West Palm Beach…how much training have you guys had so far?
Stéphan Larouche: “Lucian has been here in the gym, in the fitness gym since early December, and back in boxing by the middle of January. So far, we just do light boxing, nice and relaxed. And we know we have no fight scheduled yet, but by not knowing the date helps you to stay, like, close to shape and ready to get the machine on when the contract will be signed for the next opponent.”
Boxing Insider: Now can you share with me anything that’s going on with the next opponent? Now that Carl Froch has been elevated to a mandatory by the IBF, how does that play into everything? Who do you see Lucian fighting next?
Stéphan Larouche: “Well to be honest with you, I know that Carl Froch is the mandatory, and we were pleased about it for two reasons: First of all, he’s a credible opponent, and second of all he deserves it. He deserves more than a lot of fighters so hopefully he will be our next opponent in our very next fight, either in Montreal or in England if we need to go to England. There’s one thing that is truth, and that’s that Carl Froch has been the guy in the Super Six that had been the most game one, you know?”
Boxing Insider: Right.
Stéphan Larouche: “He’s been traveling fighting everyone everywhere. As far as the USA, he came to fight Jermain Taylor. So, if there’s one thing that we have to give to Carl Froch is he was away from home, and we respect that. He’s a true warrior, that’s the reason why Lucian would love to fight him in the very next fight. I think that you know, styles make fights, and Froch is a tough, durable guy. Very strong, and always in great condition. These are all the ingredients to give Lucian a good fight.”
Boxing Insider: Stylistically, what do you think Lucian would need to do to win in a fight with a guy like Carl Froch?
Stéphan Larouche: “Carl Froch is an awkward fighter. He’s strong, he goes forward, he throws weird combinations from weird angles. He’s always coming. He’s aggressive. He’s got a great chin, and I think that as I mentioned, everything is on the line to get Lucian his toughest fight and to silence the critics about Lucian not wanting to fight the best out there. And why do we really want to fight Carl Froch? This is the reason:
In the Super Middleweight division right now, I believe that Andre Ward is now recognized as the best Super Middleweight. And with the tournament that he won, we have to agree that he should be recognized as the guy to beat. And I would say that Mikkel Kessler is also a guy that, before we became a champion, Kessler was already there. Lucian was at one of his fights, when he fought Markus Beyer and Lucian was not even the champion yet…and he was real impressed. So those are two guys that have defeated Carl Froch—Andre Ward, and Mikkel Kessler—-and Kessler was a close, close fight. So if you want to fight the best, and because Andre Ward isn’t available for any reason, it could be injury….
He may also say that we don’t deserve to fight him yet, which we could agree with. We just want to fight the best, that’s all we’re trying to do. So saying that Ward is not available for any reason; and Kessler came to Montreal to see Lucian fight against Magee, and apparently almost missed his plane! The thing is, I don’t know why he came to Montreal. He came ringside, where we provided him a great seat to see Lucian from close, close sight…and I think he didn’t like what he was seeing. He left. Running. Apparently he was running going to the airport!”
Boxing Insider: (laughing)
Stéphan Larouche: “So Kessler is not available. So who is the only guy that is undefeated aside from his fights with those two guys? It’s Carl Froch. So in my book, if Lucian fights Carl Froch right now, he is the best by far available guy. Also, Carl Froch was the most spectacular guy to watch while we heard about people talking about the Super Six. He was the one. He’s been involved in every good fight in the Super Six so far, when the fights were on. We know that Dirrell talks a lot, but he is a runner. He is not a crowd-pleaser, he doesn’t fight at all. He’s just a runner. And I think that it’s going to be hard for him to sell any tickets and also get the attention of great television. But we would rather fight Froch, because he also beat Dirrell. So we’d rather fight the guy that beat the guy. He beat Pascal. He beat Dirrell. And he lost only against good guys. We know that Arthur Abraham was not strong enough to be in the tournament, and Carl Froch proved it. He figured him out quite easily…so there’s no question for us to go lower than Carl Froch right now. He’s the perfect guy for a great fight and also for a great mandatory title defense.”
At this point Lucian Bute, who was ready to hit the gym with Stéphan, answered a few questions.
Boxing Insider: Hello Lucian, what have you been up to yourself since the fight with Glen Johnson? I know Stéphan mentioned you went back to Romania…can you maybe share what your life has been like over the last few months?
Lucian Bute: “Well I guess the fact that I was fighting Glen Johnson, it was the first time I was received in Romania with so much media. It was the highest number of media at the airport, so it was a pleasure meeting them. I spent a lot of time there with the media, doing a lot of press conferences, TV shows, it was great to be in Romania. I spent time with my family, my whole family and then went back to Montreal where I was named the most popular athlete in sport in the year of 2011. It was a great year for me, I had three bouts…which was my goal early in the year….so it was a great year for me.”
Boxing Insider: Now Lucian, what are your thoughts personally on fight Carl Froch?
Lucian Bute: “As everybody knows, he’s a big guy. He’s strong, he’s got a great chin. He doesn’t go backwards quite often, he likes to put pressure on his opponent all the time. I believe that if someone stays right in front of him, they may have some major problems and you have to expect that. He’s courageous, he’s got a lot of will to win. I think him and I will be a great fight.”
Boxing Insider: Now you said you’d go over to Nottingham to fight Carl Froch. How do you think fighting away from Quebec would affect you in this fight?
Lucian Bute: “I think I’m there right now. I think with all the experience that I have right now, this is the time for me to go to try to fight away from home, and I know it’s not going to be easy. But I think that psychologically I’ve got enough experience and the strength to manage everything. And that would be something special to me. I know what it’s like to normally fight in front of 15,000 people against my opponent and they’ll have only 100 fans. Now, I guess if I’m going to Nottingham, it’s going to be 15,000 fans against me, and my 100 fans for me. So I will feel what it is to be away from home.”
Boxing Insider: So you embrace the idea of fighting away from home…
Lucian Bute: “Exactly. Most of of all, I think I’ll be energized by being away from home. I will be angrier. I will be solid, and really intent on achieving something to make a statement away from home. I think that it’s going to be good for me.”
Boxing Insider: Now, a lot of people are always saying “when is Lucian going to move up to 175? If he’s not going to get the best fights at 168, when is he going to move up and fight Jean Pascal in Montreal? Or Tavoris Cloud, or Bernard Hopkins…” Do you think that that’s going to happen?
Stéphan Larouche: “I think it will happen, but there are two things that we have to understand: First of all, Lucian is going to be 32 next week, on February 28. When you’re 32 years old, if you move up in weight, you will never come down. If Lucian was 25, or 26 I would agree to let him fight at 175 and bring him back down to 168. It wouldn’t be a major problem. But with the experience that we have, and the history of boxing with moving up and down, there’s no good ending. The fact that Lucian is now 32 years old, the day that he goes to 175 he will never come back down to 168. The second point is that there’s still Kessler, Ward, and Froch at 168. Why would he move to 175 right now while major fights and great fighters from the Super Six are still at 168 right now?”
Lucian Bute: “I would love to go as far as I can as a Super Middleweight, fighting everybody there, unify the belts…and then move up to 175…”
Boxing Insider: Finally, do you have anything else you’d like to share with the American fans Lucian?
Lucian Bute: “First of all I want to say thank you to all of my fans. They’ve been very close to me from the very beginning. I’ve been having a lot of fans since as far back as my 5th or 6th pro fight. I can assure them of one thing: all of my fights, I’m always going to give it my all so that my fans will be proud of me. I would love to fight in the States. I would love to fight in New York or Vegas…or even if I have to go to England I would love fans to follow me there. I will always give 100%.”
Boxing Insider’s Hans Olson can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @hansolson