By Hans Olson
On November 3 at the Bell Centre in Montréal, former IBF super middleweight champion Lucian Bute (30-1) will return for the ring for the first time since suffering his devastating loss to Carl Froch overseas back in May. He’ll fight Russia’s Denis Grachev, (12-0-1) a former kickboxing champion who put himself on the map earlier this year when he upset the previously undefeated and heavily hyped Ismayl Sillakh.
Thursday, Boxing Insider caught up with Bute’s trainer, Stéphane Larouche.
Boxing Insider: So how has everything been going with Lucian?
Stéphane Larouche: “Lucian was just with me at the Olympic games. We went to watch boxing over there, then he left for two weeks in Romania to see family, and then he’s coming back here for training camp. He’s going to train in Montréal to start with—we’re going to start camp in Montréal, and we’re going to spend a little bit of time in Florida also.”
How has the whole process been after the loss to Carl and everything since then?
“Well you know, it was as we say in boxing…first of all you have to accept that you lost. You have to understand—and then you go forward. But you know, through that process you’re going to keep that thing inside of you—and you don’t want it. It was a major setback for him, and I think that it’s time now to go forward. Learn from this—and go forward.
Having been around Lucian for so long, how have you viewed how he’s responded to the loss? Is it how you would have thought, or is he taking it better, or worse than you would have thought?
“He’s taking it like a man, you know? It’s more than wins and losses that affect a man besides the loss itself. I think he asked himself the right questions. He’s doing good, and I’m proud of him so far to be honest with you.”
What do you think, in your opinion, lost the fight for him? I was re-watching the fight the other night…Lucian was actually doing well for the first and second rounds…what do you think it was that changed the fight?
“I think that he lost the fight between the dressing room until we walked…I think he was just like…I don’t know how to word it in English…but at the moment that he needed to…he wasn’t hungry enough. He was not mean enough when it [was] time to be mean, you know?”
Are you talking about the third round, for example…or in general?
“Well I think in general. In this fight, Lucian needed to step up his level when things were not going well, and he couldn’t do it. This is where he lost the fight. When things got tough, Carl kept going and didn’t relent.”
Was Carl even more awkward than Lucian thought? That looping right hand that he would just kind of throw out of nowhere found success. Was that something that was even more surprising in the ring for him?
“I don’t think so…I don’t think that Carl surprised us. Carl is what he is, and he’s an aggressive fighter. He’s awkward, he got a major will to win, heavy hands—we knew that. We all knew that. It’s the rest (on top of that) that was a problem. Why? You know, there is an answer to this. The fact that there is a rematch clause in this though, we’re going to keep all of the analysis for ourselves for right now.”
Let’s look to the fight in November, the fight against Grachev. What is it about this fight that made you guys take the fight with him, and what are you looking to get out of this particular fight?
“Well, I didn’t want to get a guy that would come here and give Lucian a guarantee. You know, when you drive a car and get into an accident, if you stop driving it’s not going to make you a better driver. You have to go back into action as soon as possible. I wanted Lucian to be nervous in his next fight with a challenge against an undefeated guy. Grachev, just what we’ve seen of him, he’s not the most tested. But he’s got a good will to win, he comes forward, he’s undefeated and this is what we’re looking for. He wasn’t our first choice. The guy that we were looking for would have had a better name…but I wanted a guy that would come to win. A guy that would come try. A guy that proved that he’s got heavy hands when he landed that right hand on Sillakh. I saw it in Nottingham.
“So I think this guy will bring something that Lucian needs to [the] fight. Adversity. Will to win. Heavy hands. And let’s see how Lucian responds to that. And we all know that he’s not the perfect opponent. People complain about it…we understand that. But there are a lot of factors that people have to consider when getting an opponent after a loss. I think he’s the perfect guy for Lucian right now, and he’s going to bring what Lucian needs to get, and in the near future we’ll get a rematch with Carl Froch.”
So in November you have this fight against Grachev. If you guys win, you’ll have the rematch with Froch. What will Lucian have to do in the second fight with Froch in Québec to make the end result different?
“Just for him to be the real Lucian Bute. Being the real one. Being the real Lucian Bute, delivering the things that he’s able to do, and to bounce back. But it’s not going to be easy. Carl Froch, he’s a durable guy, a tough guy, a rough guy, and that’s going to be the major task of Lucian. How he will respond to such a fighter? I think that the real Lucian Bute will be able to respond to that.”