By: Nick Bellafatto
Tasting defeat for only the second time in his career to surrender his WBC title to now unified Ring Magazine super middleweight champion Andre “S.O.G.” Ward just one fight ago, Great Britain’ Carl “The Cobra” Froch (28-2, 20 KO’s) is looking to turn things around this Saturday night as he faces undefeated Lucian “Le Tombeur” Bute (30-0, 24 KO’s) in what is being billed as, “No Easy Way Out.”
For not only is Carl fortunate enough to in such a short time have another crack at a world title against the IBF super middleweight champion, but “The Cobra” will have that very opportunity in front of a hometown crowd at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham, England. And for Bute this is a first, as he looks to defend his 168 pound belt outside the fan friendly confines of either his native Romania, or his adopted home of Montreal, Quebec, Canada where he has successfully made eight of his nine title defenses.
As to Lucian taking his act on the road to meet the challenger in enemy territory, Froch would comment, “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 to touch upon Carl’ most recent outing once more, as thorough a drubbing as he would receive in going the distance with Andre Ward, “The Cobra” in defeat was no less than a class act, praising Andre for his abilities in what is arguably Froch’ only career loss, the other blemish on his record seemingly a hometown decision awarded to Mikkel Kessler in 2010. But rather than allow his latest endeavor to set him back, the Brit has vowed to return better than ever, something one cannot dismiss.
Not only does the former champion bring a lot to the table in terms of toughness, but with a renewed vigor he’s intent on leaving a legacy in boxing commensurate with some of the great champions of years past. “Obviously I lost my title and I’ve lost my chance to win another title and the Super Six Cup as it’s called, but I want to put myself up there with “Sugar” Ray Leonard and Muhammad Ali and some of the top level fighters. They all get beat and they all comeback. I’ve been beat before and I’ll comeback stronger.”
And when he enters the ring this weekend, you can bet your bottom dollar that the iron chinned pugilist will give it his all, as Carl looks to become a three-time world champion at the expense of his adversary in front of “Sugar” Ray Leonard himself, who will be calling the fight as part of the EPIX broadcast team.
“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. He’s [Bute] coming over here; he’s going to get beat. I’m going to be IBF champ. I’m going to be a three-time world champion. That’s the kind of stuff legends are made of, and that’s what I want to do. I want to secure my legacy by beating Lucian Bute.”
Froch is no stranger to making bold statements, not only because he’s confident, but he wants to psyche himself up. And in Carl feeling that “Le Tombeur” has fought less than sterling opposition, he opines that he will put the champion to a real test. “I know he’s the IBF champion, but the two names on his record are Brian Magee and Glen Johnson, that’s it. Lucian Bute needs to fight some of the top level people before he can call himself the best, or in the top three in the world.”
This criticism is quite valid to an extent, as the majority of opponents faced by Lucian during his championship stretch are not considered A level fighters by most if any, or if they were on that level, that wasn’t the case at the time they contested with Bute. That is to say they were either well past their prime or just not up to the challenge.
And as to the champion’s undefeated record, that is also at issue, as for all intensive purposes the Romanian fighter was a knockout victim of Librado Andrade. In that fight Bute would escape with his title and undefeated record intact after being issued what was considered a long count on the part of referee Marlon Wright. Commented Froch on this fight, “he actually got KO’d. The referee picked him up off the floor, washed his windshield, and 40 seconds later the bell was rung and he won on points. But in my opinion, he was knocked out.”
Again giving credit where it is due, Bute would offer up a rematch to Andrade, to finish off the gritty Mexican fighter courtesy of a fourth round fight ending body shot. And this detail is perhaps key in relation to the visiting champion emerging victorious over Carl Froch. For if there is any similarity between Froch and Andrade, it’s that they both have chins of granite whereby Bute’ best chance at a clear cut victory would be to land a fight ending shot to the liver or solar plexus.
Going to the scorecards in Froch’ own backyard is just a risky proposition, especially in a close fight. It is in this respect that I, along with many others, thought that a visiting Andre Dirrell did enough to beat Froch in Nottingham back in 2009. However, the judges wouldn’t see it that way.
As concerns what may transpire come fight night, it may be insightful to shed light on some common opponents of the principals. Looking at veteran Glen Johnson first, Bute had his way with Johnson this past November, who ineffective against the champion, Lucian looked to carry his friend and sparring partner to the finish line while in control of all phases of the contest. In contrast, Froch had some trouble in going toe to toe with “The Road Warrior” last Summer, necessitating that Carl make an adjustment to box from a distance, which he did to earn him the certain victory.
In referring to a second common opponent, that of one Brian Magee, both Froch and Bute would stop him before the duration, Froch in eleven rounds back in 2006, and Bute in ten more recently in 2011, similar results which perhaps cancel each other out. Another fighter victimized by “The Cobra” and “Le Tombeur is that of Sergey Tatevosyan, which quite some time ago in 2007, could probably be dismissed as a less than plausible comparison in relation to what may transpire this weekend. But just for the record, Tatevosyan went the distance with Bute, while Froch knocked him out in two rounds, both contests being held in the same year.
Now let’s look at what each prizefighter will bring with him into the ring in relation to skill set and/or shortcomings. Neither is big on the jab as both seem to paw with that particular punch in an effort to set up power shots. Both are similarly adept in using lateral movement, but Bute seems the smoother more agile fighter who’s fleet of foot in comparison to Froch.
I also give slight advantages to Bute in the hand speed department as well, not to mention he’s more fluid, throwing the more technically sound looking combination punches. Additionally, as a southpaw, the defending champion is much more well versed in facing right handed fighters than is Froch in facing southpaws. This may be a huge factor when push comes to shove or in the heat of battle.
And as already discussed, another item which may factor in is that save for a couple fights in the U.S. and Romania, by far the large majority of Bute’ fights have of course been in his home base of Montreal. In effect it remains to be seen if a pro Froch crowd, or the absence of Bute’ own cheering fan base which regularly sells out the Bell Centre or Pepsi Coliseum, will have any adverse affect on Lucian. Once the bell rings I wouldn’t think so, but stranger things have happened.
Now let’s speak to potential liabilities on the part of the contestants. As far as shortcomings on the part of Froch, they seem to come in the form of the Brit every so often throwing uppercuts or hooks to the body from too far out. This is perhaps due to a measure of frustration when in against elusive opponents who don’t necessarily make themselves available to Carl when he’s interested in slugging it out.
And to be sure, reaching to the body of Bute is a dicey proposition indeed, a circumstance which the champion would likely take advantage of by timing “The Cobra” on the way in with well placed hooks and/or uppercuts. On this very subject Lucian would note, “a good southpaw is more [complete] with a good right hook. And with a guy like Carl Froch, he’s very aggressive; it’s going to be useful to use my right hook to catch him coming in. But yes, that left; that everybody knows now. I know he will expect that, but I think that naturally, it will come out sooner or later.”
Additionally, and on occasion when becoming fatigued, Carl’ accuracy and/or technique will subside during the progression of a bout, especially when pushed by an opponent such as was the case at times during his encounter with Andre Ward. Of course Andre was more physical than I expect Bute to be, but just as well Bute will perhaps use quite a bit of movement.
In consideration of this it may be wise for Bute to pick up the pace in the latter half of the contest, provided he has the conditioning and the bout goes that far, using the ring as much as possible and eluding Froch’s blows to cause the challenger to expend as much energy as possible. Of course one would surmise that Carl is hungry for a title and is probably well enough in shape to avoid such a scenario.
And as for what may prove hazardous to the champion himself, Lucian Bute is prone to occasionally having lapses where his offensive output will drop off. In these instances he provides windows of opportunity for opponents to get close and work without the benefit of responding in kind, something that will give Froch a decided edge if Bute begins to fatigue himself.
Another seeming liability of the part of the Romanian fighter, which by the way makes this fight totally intriguing, is that for the apparent advantages Bute does have, his chin is suspect to the extent that perhaps one pinpoint shot from “The Cobra,” although not a certainty, could cause the IBF belt to change hands.
In this respect, and if the opportunity arises, the challenger will be looking to connect solidly to the jaw or chin of the champion to end the bout. If that happens, then it goes without saying that Bute will not be the recipient of a long count in Nottingham, as Froch would be more than happy to once again strap some championship hardware around his waist.
With that said however, and despite the fact that Bute has fought the lesser opposition and Froch the greater as a result of Carl’ participation in the Showtime Super Six World Classic Boxing Tournament, I’m definitely leaning in the direction of Bute retaining his title one way or the other, either by decision or kayo.
The champion has progressed quite a bit in the last few years, improving his skill level while building his confidence to the utmost, two attributes I think will get him through. “I’ve worked very hard for this fight. I know it’s not an easy fight for me but I came here to win. I’m a winner,” stated Lucian Bute.
In real time I see Bute content to bide his time in this fight, mixing punches while moving laterally to avoid anything significant from the challenger, all the while looking to place that significant body shot upon which he has come to rely as his weapon of choice. And going to the body of Froch would be wise considering once again that Carl has a set of whiskers which are second to none.
All told this is a solid and highly anticipated match up, and to steal a line here, may the better man win. I just happen to think Bute will pull it out somehow, someway, not resting on the fact that there exists a rematch clause that will bring a second title fight back to Canada.
And because Showtime wasn’t interested in telecasting this particular prizefight, you and I will have to get with U.S. based EPIX TV, or a derivation thereof, to catch all the action. And great action is what I expect, so don’t miss out on this one fight fans.
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