Romanian-born Canada-based IBF super middleweight titleholder Lucian Bute never has had a numerically close fight as a professional, while his English challenger, Carl Froch, has faced far superior competition.
On Saturday, Bute (30-0, 24 knockouts) will travel to Froch’s hometown of Nottingham, England, where he will attempt to make the 10th defense of his belt before his rival’s fans at the Capital FM Arena.
Froch (28-2, 20 KOs) made his last appearance at home in October of 2009, where he overcame switch-hitting, previously unbeaten Andre Dirrell by split-decision in the first round of Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic tournament.
Of the two men, Froch has the more complete resume, having claimed decisions over ex-world titleholders Glen Johnson, Arthur Abraham and Jean Pascal, and a 12th-round knockout of Jermain Taylor. His two losses came by unanimous decisions against two-time beltholder Mikkel Kessler and RING champion Andre Ward, both in the Super Six.
Bute represents Froch’s eighth consecutive RING-ranked opponent, although it should be noted that Pascal and Dirrell were not RING-ranked until after they faced Froch.
Froch has made it known that in his opinion Bute never was good enough to be involved in the Super Six, pointing to the fact that other than once in his native Romania, Bute has never made a title defense outside of Canada.
Froch also used Bute’s controversial win over Librado Andrade in October of 2008 to accuse him of getting special treatment from Canadian officials.
Although Bute won the rematch with Andrade by fourth-round knockout in November of 2009, he had benefited from a long 10-count in their initial bout, allowing him to rise from a knockdown and avoid being counted out.
In addition to a win over Johnson, Bute also shares a knockout victory over Brian Magee, a man Froch stopped in the 11th round in May of 2006, while Bute did the same in the 10th in March of last year. Bute also owns knockouts over faded ex-beltholder William Joppy and Edison Miranda.
Exactly what will transpire during Bute-Froch? RingTV.com asked that question of 23 knowledgeable boxing observers. Below are the results.
Lucian Bute SD 12 Carl Froch: The fight will be a tit-for-tat affair with lots of grueling in-fighting and posturing along the ropes. Lucian Bute will look to unload his patented power shots to the midsection and will find success.
But Froch will befuddle the Romanian with his underrated boxing ability and educated jab. The rounds will be close and competitive, but Bute’s superior athleticism will allow him to edge the hometown fighter.
Lucian Bute UD 12 Carl Froch: There’s the prevailing opinion heading into this one that Lucian Bute is overrated and Carl Froch is underrated. I’m going to throw that out the window here: They’re both world class fighters.
That being said, I think that Bute has superior technique, and asked for this fight for a reason. He likely sees that he has a hand speed and foot speed advantage, and that if he can avoid Froch’s jab often enough, he can beat him to the punch every time.
For Froch, it’s not advantageous to turn this into a brawl, because the Canadian’s short, tight punches on the inside are fight finishers. I can’t outright predict that one of those will land and end the night, but I will predict a victory for Bute.
Lucian Bute W 12 Carl Froch: Carl Froch needs to produce the performance of his career to defeat Lucian Bute. The IBF champion is slick, a southpaw, has heavy hands when he wants to. But he also has great movement. He has also prepared meticulously for the Nottingham fighter’s style, which has not changed in four to five years.
There is so much to admire in Froch, and he will be the warrior he has always been, and may give Bute some uncomfortable moments. Yet I see Bute winning comfortably on points, unless Froch pulls off a shock.
Carl Froch SD 12 Lucian Bute: I’m going with Carl Froch by close or split decision. I admit it’s a gut pick, and I probably wouldn’t go with my gut on this one if it wasn’t taking place in Froch’s hometown. Lucian Bute is far more talented, athletic and skilled. If they were playing tennis I wouldn’t give Froch a chance.
But they’re boxing. They’re going to be hitting each other. Bute’s speed, reflexes and footwork will limit the number of shots Froch lands on him in the early rounds, and he’ll probably nail The Cobra with the harder punches. But I think the gritty and resourceful Englishman will gradually work his way into the fight in the middle rounds.
I think Froch will press hard and score well in the final four rounds, which will be very entertaining. I also think the judges will be influenced by the crowd’s support of Froch and give the Brit the benefit of the doubt in a number of close rounds down the stretch.
Carl Froch SD 12 Lucian Bute: Paulie Malignaggi’s ninth-round stoppage of Vyacheslav Senchenko in the Ukraine in April is proof that you can go to the other guy’s country and pull off a stunner. But Senchenko doesn’t have Froch’s chin.
The twice-beaten Englishman has never been stopped. It’s hard to see how Bute can do what no one else has, especially in only his second fight outside of Canada since 2005.
The bout promises to be very close, which means Froch gets the edge at home in Nottingham. This one has rematch written all over it, although it’ll be interesting to see if Froch would agree to face Bute at home in Quebec.
Carl Froch W 12 Lucian Bute: Lucian Bute is a different fighter now than he was a few years ago. Then he was a speed-oriented, sharp-punching boxer that piled up points. Now he’s one of the best one-punch KO artists in the sport.
Because he’s looking to blast out opponents with that enormous left uppercut, his volume has declined. This could be bad news against Carl Froch in Nottingham because there he must win his rounds decisively.
Meanwhile, Froch has a busy jab, excellent volume, a style that can throw Bute’s timing off and the experience that only comes with fighting a much higher level of competition as of late.
Finally, he has that enormous crowd support that will make noise every time he does something well. That could help swing enough close rounds in his favor to earn the nod.
Lucian Bute SD 12 Carl Froch: This is a very even match, but I’m leaning toward Lucian Bute to pull off a split decision. I think his southpaw stance will give Carl Froch problems.
Lucian Bute W 12 Carl Froch: For those who remember Carl Froch’s bout with Jean Pascal, expect a bout with fellow Canadian Lucian Bute to be of the same ilk. Both fighters like to fight hard, punch harder and rarely step back.
Froch can lay claim to not only having a better resume than Bute, but perhaps the the toughest sequence of fights in the past three years of any active fighter. But this has surely taken a toll?
Bute is a fresher fighter who seems so confident of victory that he has left his Canadian base where he is a megastar.
Froch has a chin laced with granite, but physically looked lackluster against Ward. Bute will take advantage of this and will win a close points decision, even though it’s in Froch’s backyard. Bute by decision.
Lucian Bute SD 12 Carl Froch: Lucian Bute by split decision. Carl Froch has fought the best opposition of anyone in the super middleweight division and, at least on paper, appears to be the toughest opponent of Bute’s career.
But Bute will affect Froch with his consistent body punching and slow down Froch during the second half of their 12-rounder.
That’ll enable Bute to out-box the ever-confident Froch enough to win a very close fight, even in Froch’s hometown.
Carl Froch W12 Lucian Bute: Carl Froch has done better against vastly better competition, and he’s fighting at home. Lucian Bute is a quality fighter who has a punishing body attack. Froch, though, is the kind of fighter who will keep Bute on the defensive and often backing up.
I expect Bute to have his moments, but I believe Froch wins in a compelling fight that should have been picked up by either HBO or Showtime. What were those guys thinking?
Lucian Bute W 12 Carl Froch: I like Lucian Bute, even on the road canvas. I think he’s a better athlete than Carl Froch, and while unproven, I think he shows he is the real commodity at 168.
Carl Froch UD 12 Lucian Bute: Tough one to call, but im taking Carl Froch. He’s more battle-tested, and will be fighting at home.
While I believe that Lucian Bute is the better talent, I am not convinced that, mentally, he will be ready to deal with the mental pressure of The Cobra. Especially in Nottingham. This should be a very good one, but I got Froch by unanimous decision.
Lucian Bute W12 Carl Froch: A motivated Carl Froch will come out like a lion in front of his hometown crowd. But I think his right hand and bodywork will be negated by Lucian Bute’s speed, movement, and accuracy.
I like the southpaw Bute to pull out a close, gutty victory in a bout that will make the cries for a fight with Andre Ward even louder.
Carl Froch W 12 Lucian Bute: A tough one to call. However, because of the home court edge that Carl Froch has, he’ll take a close one. How?
By giving Lucian Bute just enough junk to keep him thinking too much. The Englishman will be ready to stymie his body punching foe. Constant flurries will offset Bute’s advances.
Carl Froch SD 12 Lucian Bute: I know most believe Lucian Bute will be too strong and powerful, but I sense there is another title- winning display left in the Englishman, and that performing at home in Nottingham could be the catalyst.
Disappointing as Carl Froch was versus Andre Ward, I’m not sure Bute is in that class. I expect a busier, more positive Froch on Saturday – and for him to shade it. Just!
Lucian Bute UD 12 Carl Froch: I believe Carl Froch will give Lucian Bute a few shaky moments. But I expect the unbeaten IBF super middleweight champion to use his speed, body punching and slick movements to outhustle Froch for a 12-round unanimous decision.
Lucian Bute UD 12 Carl Froch: I feel that Carl Froch will make this an interesting fight. Froch’s determination will serve him well.
But I see Lucian Bute being just a little too sharp for him over the course of twelve rounds. Bute by unanimous decision.
Carl Froch W 12 Lucian Bute: Being at the Nottingham Arena, with his immediate future near the top of the class hanging in the balance, Carl Froch should have more answers come Saturday night. While he’s never seen Lucian Bute, he’s seen more of boxing’s challenges than his foe.
This fight could end up being an even better version of the wild first contest between Bute and Librado Andrade. Bute has improved his defense and never been close to that sort of trouble again since. Froch can get him there. Bute’s speed should see him win some of the early rounds but Froch is going to chip away bit by bit.
As the rounds wear on, his body shots and right hand will force Bute to work harder and harder to keep ahead with fatiguing affect. By the last third of the fight, Froch should assume control and begin to pull away. The pick here is Froch by late stoppage or close, but firm, decision with cries of “rematch” lingering in the air.
Lucian Bute W 12 Carl Froch: Lucian Bute-Carl Froch is among the toughest picks in recent memory. Froch has demonstrated against elite opposition that he’s as tough as they come and an underrated boxer. He’s a proven commodity.
Bute has looked consistently spectacular, but has yet to face a top-tier 168-pounder in his prime, meaning that he is unproven. The question: Is Bute what he appears to be? The answer, I believe, is yes.
He’s a better boxer and much quicker than Froch and probably matches the Briton in all other categories. I don’t see Bute knocking out Froch but I believe he will win a clear decision.
Carl Froch W 12 Lucian Bute: I like Carl Froch, based on where this fight is, in Froch’s backyard, and based on the fact that Froch comes in having faced a far greater competitive level than Lucian Bute has.
This marks the first time Bute has fought outside of his home country, Romania, or his home-away-from-home, Canada, since November 2004, when he fought Norman Johnson in Boston.
I haven’t exactly been sold on Bute, and I think we’re going to find out why when he battles Froch. The biggest concern is whether or not the high-level battles will have a telling effect on Froch.
John Scully, trainer of RING and WBC lightheavyweight champion Chad Dawson
Carl Froch W 12 Lucian Bute: I’ll go with Carl Froch in a somewhat disputed 12 round decision. I really like Lucian Bute, and I love his left hand to the body. But Froch is kind of an emotional fighter to me, and fighting at home is going to really spur him on.
He’s gained a lot of experience over the last two years and is an underrated guy who is going to capitalize on this huge opportunity.
I think Bute will find it a little bit unnerving being out of his comfort zone while Froch will relish more than most his time at home and will use all that goes with that to win a close decision in a better than average fight.
Carl Froch W 12 Lucian Bute: I’m going with Carl Froch. Froch is tough as nails, has faced the better opposition and I think is better prepared to deal with the task at hand. If Lucian Bute can’t make an impression on Froch early, it will be hard for Bute to keep up down the stretch.
Lucian Bute SD 12 Carl Froch: I think Lucian Bute’s southpaw style and precision punching will give Carl Froch a lot of trouble, because Froch’s defense is lacking. I know Bute hasn’t really faced many big names, but I think he’s a better boxer than Froch, he’s quicker than Froch and can match his power.
What remains to be seen is whether Bute can beat Froch and the judges, and whether Froch will be desperate enough, knowing a second loss in a row could be devastating for his career, even though they would be against two undefeated fighters. I say Bute by split decision.
In the closest vote since the inception of the series, the experts give Lucian Bute the edge — literally — over Carl Froch, 12-11.
Photo by Lawrence Lustig
Photo by Mike Greenhill, FightWireImages.com
Photos by Tom Casino, Showtime
Photo by Emily Harney, Fightwireimages.com
Photos by Tom Casino, Showtime
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]