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Quebec Scene: Bute vs. Johnson, rising star Kevin Bizier and more

by Hans Olson

As has been the speculation for some weeks now, Glen Johnson has been confirmed as Lucian Bute’s opponent for November 5th. Bute (29-0)—who will attempt to make the 9th defense of his IBF Super Middleweight title—faces a man who many view as the most dangerous opponent he has yet to see in Johnson (51-15-2). Although Bute is far and away the most talented fighter in the 168 lb. division, he has yet to receive universal respect given his absence from Showtime’s Super Six Tournament. A win against Glen Johnson, one of the most respected fighters in the game, could change that.

I caught up with Glen Johnson’s manager Henry Foster yesterday to discuss the fight.

On the negotiations for the fight:

“To be honest with you, this past week I was on vacation out of the country, so our promoters—Lou Dibella and Leon Margules—they handled the negotiations with Interbox exclusively. However, Glen Johnson himself was the guy that told them to close the deal because Glen very much wants to fight and he didn’t want some unworthy, or some lesser guy to get in there and take it away from us. Glen was the guy that decided to drop the hammer with the deal. As his manager, I’m completely in accord with what he wants to do.”

On Glen’s purse for the fight:

“I think there’s a confidentiality agreement. I actually have not seen any documentation yet, I know they’re in the process of preparing the documents now. I know there’s a confidentiality agreement attached to it. It would be substantially lower than what was reported to be Pavlik’s offer, I have no problem in telling you that. But you know it’s certainly, in today’s world, a purse that’s worthy of our attention.”

On what this opportunity means for Glen, and why he took the fight:

“One of the things that has kept Glen in the game as long as he has is his understanding of way the business of boxing works and his willingness to take the short money for the opportunity of getting the bigger fights. It’s always good to have exposure so people recall that Glen Johnson is still in the game, but unfortunately that exposure— inclusive of being Fighter of the Year and knocking out Roy Jones back in 2005—does not make him the A-Side of any of his fights forthcoming. That’s a reality that we’ve dealt with as parters for 10 years now, but its still been the most rewarding relationship in business that I’ve ever had with anybody.”

On Glen’s friendship with Lucian Bute:

“Glen doesn’t require any angst in order to do his job. He’s not a guy that’s ever been a trash-talker. He always respects his opponent as he does with Lucian. The friendship thing, he’s able to compartmentalize. He can go out and have a drink with the guy after the fight and be as close to him as a buddy before the fight. When the bell rings, he can take care of business. For Glen, it’s not a difficult proposition and he’s not the least bit conflicted about fighting Lucian. He looks forward to it, is excited about it, and fully intends to win. It’s going to be a fabulous fight.”

In a region that boasts names like Jean Pascal, David Lemieux, Jo Jo Dan, Antonin Decarie, Adrian Diaconu, and the aforementioned Lucian Bute, it’s no surprise that the Province of Quebec is one of the greatest boxing regions in the world…and there is no shortage of young talent on the way up with the likes of Mikael Zewski, Pier Olivier Cote, and in this writer’s opinion, the most promising of all, Saint-Emile’s Kevin Bizier. On the undercard to Hopkins/Pascal II this past May, Bizier impressed with a destructive 5th round knockout of Mauro Lucero to take his unblemished record to 15-0. Kevin is tentatively scheduled to fight next in October, likely in Quebec City against an opponent to be determined.

It’s an opportunity he looks forward to.

“It’s certain that the more I advance my career, the better my opponents are going to get,” said Bizier. “I train accordingly and have to have a good work ethic. I’m in great shape, I feel strong, and we’re two months before the fight. In front of family, friends and supporters in Quebec City, I’m very happy. The last two times that I have boxed there, I’ve had a very welcoming reception and the atmosphere was great!”

Growing up as the youngest of 4 children, Kevin excelled early on in an array of sports. “We’ve always been very athletic children; we played hockey, baseball, karate and boxing,” he reflected. “I started boxing at the age of thirteen. At that time, I was already a black belt and North American champion in karate. My father wanted to diversify our training, so he put my brothers and I into boxing classes at ex-pro boxer Fernand Marcotte’s gym. I immediately liked the workouts; they were varied and intense. The competition pushed me to push myself and I always liked facing someone in a ring.”

With his skill and precise power, Kevin has at times been compared to a young Oscar De La Hoya, someone whom he was inspired by growing up. “I was a big fan of Oscar De La Hoya because he was a fast, talented boxer. I also admired Arturo Gatti for his courage in the ring. Today, there is Manny Pacquiao, who is the top boxer in my opinion.”

To get to a similar level, Kevin realizes the sacrifices that he has to make, and continues working hard toward his championship goals each day as he shared with me in our interview.

“I get up at 6am to be ready for my first workout 7am with Pedro Diaz. Pedro has a unique way of working … it does not dissociate the cardiovascular, weight training and boxing … the whole preparation is from boxing.”

It doesn’t end there.

“Afterwards I go home to eat and get some sleep …. At 3pm I have my second session of the day for two hours with Mark Ramsay boxing. After, I go home with the family to recover, eat and go to sleep around 10:30pm. I have intensified my training every day, which is why I moved with my girlfriend and my two dogs to Montreal to join the team of coaches at GYM: Marc Ramsay and Pedro Diaz.”

He’s on the right track, and with a few more big wins and the anticipated push from his promoter, Groupe Yvon Michel, Kevin Bizier could be on the fast track to stardom, and the most telling is his desire to do so.

“I’m eager to continue to the championship level.”

Fight fans in Quebec are just as eager.

follow Boxing Insider’s Hans Olson on Twitter @hansolson

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