The highly-anticipated duel between Canadian prizefighters Lucian Bute and Jean Pascal, dubbed the greatest fight in Canada’s storied history, has been postponed. Following on from the official announcement by InterBox earlier, co-promoter Yvon Michel accepted the decision, claiming it is an unfortunate part of the sport of boxing.
Alan Dawson – London
Carl Froch‘s first defence of his IBF super middleweight world title was as swift as it was brutal as he knocked American challenger Yusaf Mack out with an acute body punch in the third round of their confrontation at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham on Saturday, November 17. Froch’s promoter, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sports, wants only the elite for Froch in 2013 and spoke of potential rematches with Lucian Bute, Mikkel Kessler and Andre Ward.
Official verdict: Froch by 3rd Rd TKO.
Boxing with the Stars and Stripes on his trunks and adopting his trademark slick style with his left mitt low, Mack (31-5-2, 17ko) appeared unfazed at the rowdy reception provided by the partisan English crowd. However, like Lucian Bute in May, Mack had no answer when he was bum-rushed by Froch (30-2-0, 22ko) and suffered a flash knockdown in the first round before looking unsteady and ready to fall a second time mere moments from the bell.
Upon replay, though, the knockdown may have been aided by leg entanglement, but Mack’s body language when on his stool between rounds was that of a man who was shocked at the effectiveness of the bombardment he was forced to endure in the opening three minutes.
In the second round, Froch, 35, varied his jabbing to the mouth and to the gut. Midway through the stanza, he threw combinations to the sides of the Philadelphian’s body and, when Mack had his back to the ropes, there was a fan-friendly kerfuffle as both men swapped heavy leather, explosive bombs and egotistical smiles. While Froch got the better of each argument, Mack was no slouch when it came to retaliation and enjoyed most of his success with his left cross.
Froch worked behind his under-rated jab in the third round and his focus was mostly upstairs as Mack’s adapted Philly-Shell guard prevented access to the body. When Mack let his hands go, though, he left his body unprotected and this became his undoing as he was felled for a second time with a tortuous blow just above the belt-line. The decisive flurry included a right to the rib cage, a left to the body and a left to the skull before Mack submitted to his knees and required paramedic attention – perhaps due to broken, or at least severely battered and bruised, ribs.
“I get my body in A-level condition,” said the ageless Froch to Sky Sports 1 following the official announcement of his win. “If anyone comes in below par – that is what happens to them. Physically I feel at my best, I’m smashing my personal bests in training. Mentally, I’m dealing with these opponents. He didn’t come out sharp, I found my range early and them body shots would have hurt.”
Promoter Hearn spoke of Froch’s future: “[Bute and his management have] got to decide whether they want the fight. We’re contractually obliged to go over there [but] I don’t think there is one super middleweight out there – Andre Ward included – who can beat Carl Froch in Nottingham. Bute, [Mikkel] Kessler and Ward. That’s who we want in 2013 and the more fights in Nottingham the better.”
Alan Dawson – London
Marco Huck may have made a tenth successful defence of his WBO cruiserweight world title by obtaining an official win over challenger and fellow German, Firat Arslan, on Saturday, November 3 in Halle, but the champion failed to win over the crowd who booed the decision. On the same night, Lucian Bute got back to winning ways by outpointing Denis Grachev in Montreal, Quebec.
At the Gerry Weber Stadium stadium in the Nordrhein-Westfalen state in Germany, Huck (35-2-1, 25ko) seemingly had no answer for Arslan’s left uppercut, which he continually landed with aplomb for the majority of the early and middle rounds. In retaliation, Huck’s cannonry mostly cushioned off of Firat’s guard.
It was only until the latter stages in the argument where defending champ Huck – 15 years younger than his adversary – had his say and may have edged rounds ten to 12 on sheer activity alone.
But, when the scorecards were revealed – 115-113, 115-113 and, astonishingly, 117-111 – Arslan’s trainer Dieter Witmann failed to hide his anger, branding it “the biggest scam I have ever seen” and a “disgrace”.
Arslan (32-6-2, 21ko) agreed: “I’ve never experienced anything like this decision. I’ve seldom landed so many clean punches and he only scuffed me,” the veteran southpaw and former 200lb titlist was quoted to have said by Eurosport. “How can such a thing happen? This kind of thing is ruining boxing.
“I landed so many punches. I think the whole crowd believes I’m the winner. I’ve been robbed of my win. I would have been the new world champion today, I would have written history.”
Huck, showing defiance in defeat, said: “I think I landed more punches.”
In Canada four hours later, former IBF super middleweight ruler Bute (31-1-0, 24ko) boxed his way to a unanimous decision victory over previously undefeated Grachev (12-1-1, 8ko) and, in so doing, kept his case for a contractual rematch with his only conqueror – Carl Froch – in tact for the new year.
While Grachev was an unbeaten fast-rising contender with a good-looking win over Ismayl Sillakh on his resume, he remained a 9-1 underdog heading into fisticuffs with hometown favourite Bute. However, when leather was traded on fight night, a more competitive bout than anticipated ensued. Bute controlled the fight when the southpaw fought from distance and scored well with his jab and uppercut, however, he showed a vulnerability when Grachev backed him up onto the ropes during the contest’s midway point.
The 118-110 score granted to Bute appeared generous, with the two scores of 116-112 and 115-113 more on point but, regardless of winning margin, Lucian was buoyant in victory. “I’m very happy with my performance against a very tough opponent,” he said, as reported by The Montreal Gazette. “I took some shots, but he was very aggressive. It was a good experience for me.”
The defeated party was aggrieved post-fight and claimed the judging to be “unfair”. Grachev said: “Maybe I lost three or four rounds.”
With the win, Bute added the NABF light heavyweight belt to his honours roll. He will now wait on the result of Froch’s fight with Yusaf Mack on November 17 to find out whether his shot at redemption will go ahead as planned.
Video credit: Marc Abrams
Former IBF super middleweight belt holder Lucian Bute and undefeated up-and-comer Denis Grachev collide later tonight, November 3, at the Bell Centre in Quebec, Canada, with the NABF title at 175lbs on the line. Both fighters made weight yesterday (video embedded below) for a bout that will be contested at a 17olb catchweight. The light heavyweight showdown tops a Montreal card that also features a 175lb tussle between Renan St Juste and Allan Green.
On The Beak – Admin
InterBox and Lucian Bute met with media representatives at the Cage aux Sports restaurant in the Montreal Bell Centre earlier this week. Team InterBox revisited Lucian’s last bout on May 26 and revealed the future plans for Lucian and Carl Froch. Below, is a detailed resume of declarations by Lucian Bute, InterBox president Jean Bedard, Matchroom Boxing president Eddie Hearn and head trainer Stephan Larouche.
- That was not the real Lucian Bute in that Nottingham ring last May, 26. I spent the last few weeks reflecting about what went wrong, what happened, and the only thing that is crystal clear in my mind is that I want my rematch with Carl Froch as soon as possible.
- I am convinced the loss was due to critical errors on my part and that I will beat him.
- I did not use my primary weapons of speed and my jab at all during the fight. I fought Carl Froch’s fight instead of dictating the pace and forcing him to fight my fight.
- It was a bad night for me in Nottingham. A nightmare, really. I lost my IBF belt, my perfect record and I suffered a hard loss.
- I cannot wait to step back into the ring. I am already back at the gym training. I feel fresh, in good spirits, my health is very good and my goal and motivation is to prove to myself and to everyone that [my] last [fight] was just a bad day at the office.
- I do not want to take anything away from Carl Froch’s accomplishment. He was the better man that night. He was hungrier and more motivated and he won. But now I have to look ahead. My promoter Jean Bedard, my coach Stephan Larouche and I have had numerous serious discussions and we have established a plan that I am very comfortable with. In the next two fights I will erase the bad memory from my mind and from the minds of my fans.
- There is no hiding the fact that the result was hard on everyone. But even in defeat, in the locker room after the fight and the days following the loss, I still felt Lucian had the fire in his belly to come back stronger and demand his rematch with Froch.
- Lucian was in my office the morning after his return from Romania to reaffirm his intentions. He looked me straight in the eyes and asked me to set the plan we detailed with him and Stephan in motion.
- In all likelihood Lucian will box in Montreal or Quebec this Fall. However, it is also not out of the question that Lucian make his November ring return in Romania. We are already in discussions with an opponent and have sent them an offer.
- We do have a rematch clause with Matchroom Boxing, which could have been a direct rematch bout no matter the outcome. Matchroom Boxing is a great organisation to work with and I have been speaking to Eddie once or twice a week since [the defeat]. I almost know his number by heart. We decided together that in the interest of effectively promoting the rematch, Lucian and Carl would fight in separate events and that we will coordinate our efforts for both to fight on the same day, in November. We agreed the Bute/Froch rematch would take place on March 16th or March 23rd at the Montreal Bell Centre.
- The Carl Froch v Lucian Bute fight has already gone down as one of the greatest fights in British boxing history. It generated record audiences and a sold-out arena that were treated to what many respected pundit and fighters have described as one of the greatest atmosphere’s ever.
- Carl put in an incredible performance and against all odds recaptured a world title. Both Carl, I and the people of Great Britain have the utmost respect for Lucian for first accepting the challenge to come to England but also the manner in which he accepted defeat.
- Like any fighter, I’m sure Lucian would like an opportunity to avenge this defeat as per our agreement he has the opportunity to try and make that happen. Together with Jean Bedard we have agreed in the interest of both fighters that we will have an ‘interim’ fight and then look to rematch in March 2013. I’m sure this will build into another huge fight and will do record numbers in Canada.
- Team Bute has been analysing all factors and circumstances pertaining to the May 26 bout, including Lucian`s preparation.
- As Lucian confirmed earlier, he is already back in the gym. We want to make sure he stays in great shape.
- We will not be “starting from zero” with Lucian. I want to make it clear to everyone that Lucian did not lose the fight because he was over trained, or not ready. He lost that fight because of several small mistakes that combined gave all the advantage to Carl Froch.
- We are not looking for an “easy touch” for the November fight. We are looking for, and have possibly found, an opponent that will test Lucian and give him a difficult fight. I want Lucian to be tested, to work, and to step out of his comfort zone as well.
Alan Dawson – London
Carl Froch silenced his doubters – yet again – as the unfancied Cobra, whose venom was not expected to provide such a sting against the previously unbeaten Lucian Bute, killed off the IBF super middleweight champion’s chances within minutes of their duel at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham on Saturday, May 26. Froch fired in an abundance of shots from all angles before stopping Bute on his feet in round five to become a three-time world champion at 168lbs.
Official verdict: Froch by way of fifth round TKO.
“It’s still sinking in, the support has been fantastic,” said a euphoric Froch to Sky Sports One. “After the Andre Ward defeat I was deflated but I was beat by the better man. Tonight, I did right. I listened to Rob McCracken and he never gets it wrong. When I listen, I get it right. Tonight, I was switched on, focused. I came to do a job. I was just on it tonight. Let me tell you, [Bute] can punch, I’m elated though, so happy.”
Froch’s performance was dominant but it was the awkward stance of jittery southpaw Bute that appeared to confound Froch early on as the hometown challenger looked crude in comparison to the more refined champion. The Englishman, though, took heart from his ability to land but, more importantly, his ability to hurt Bute as, in the first round Lucian was cronked with a left hook and in the second Lucian had to clinch in order to recover following a number of shots absorbed upstairs.
While much was said pre-fight about Bute’s portside jab, the orthodox lead left from Froch was the most reliable asset of the two. It continuously found the Canadian-Romanian’s nose in the second but he neglected the jab in the third round as he sent an absolute bombardment of blows to Bute’s bonce, establishing a dominant 10-8 round despite scoring no knockdown. Froch was fierce, unrelenting and Bute was vulnerable and wobbled back to his stool after combat had momentarily paused prior to the fourth.
Froch’s legion of supporters were rallied and raucous when Froch abandoned sweet boxing and opted to lunge in wildly – where he surprisingly had far more success than when he tried to box his way toward openings. In the fourth, he again pounded Bute, landing uppercuts and short-range straights. After 12 minutes of fists, Bute was cut by the eyebrow and a stoppage seemed inevitable as Bute failed to handle the strength, the power and the swarm of shots from a battling Englishman.
That stoppage arrived in the fifth… amid peculiar circumstance as Froch pierced Bute’s guard with a punishing shot. Bute required the ropes to prop himself up and the referee sent Froch to a neutral corner. The crowd and promoter Eddie Hearn, however, believed the fight had been stopped and Hearn rushed in to lift Froch aloft despite the referee giving Bute a count which could normally result in a disqualification.
Bute, though, was not allowed to continue. By the count of ten, the referee believed he was not in a fit state to continue and even trainer Stephen Larouche entered the ring with the white towel over his shoulder, ready to pull his ward out of combat.
Considered the underdog even by bookmakers in his home country, Froch – now 29-2-0, 21ko – did the unthinkable by not only defeating Bute, but doing so emphatically, by stoppage, before the fight had even reached the halfway stage.
“He boxed fantastically well,” said head trainer McCracken. “Maybe down the line we can put [the Andre Ward result] right. Froch is a fantastic specimen, he doesn’t gain weight. When he’s [on it] he delivers.
“He’s one of the best boxers we’ve produced on this land.”
Alan Dawson – London
Carl Froch‘s most impressive performance was his come-from-behind 12th round technical knockout victory over former lineal middleweight champion Jermain Taylor in 2009, according to ring legend Sugar Ray Leonard, who has lauded The Cobra’s self confidence and gladiatorial spirit. Froch hopes to land his third super middleweight world championship on Saturday, May 26 but Leonard believes he will have his hands full with IBF title-holder Lucian Bute.
“Well, it’s a very intriguing match-up,” commented Leonard, who was once described as a mini Muhammad Ali by their mutual trainer Angelo Dundee. A consensus top twenty all-time great, Leonard, a 56-year-old American, amassed a 36-3-1, 25ko record with spectacular triumphs over Wilfred Benitez, Thomas Hearns, Roberto Duran and Marvin Hagler.
The former champion of five weight divisions will be providing commentary on Froch (28-2-0, 20ko) and Bute’s Capital FM Arena battle to an American broadcaster this weekend and has spoken out over what he thinks will be the key aspects of combat: “You have Carl Froch, who [is confident]. I mean, that’s what it takes first and foremost. You have to believe in yourself, believe in your ability.
“I’ve seen Carl fight a number of times [and] I think one of the most impressive fights was when he fought Jermain Taylor. You know if my memory serves me correctly Carl came back and knocked him out. And I was very impressed with that because that showed intestinal fortitude. You can’t teach that. That is within. A lot of fighters tell you what they’re going to do, this and that; and that’s just the art of verbal confrontation. But when you prove it like Carl has in the past, you know what? This fight should be pretty exciting.”
Bute (30-0-0, 24ko) is one of the greatest draws in boxing today as he regularly attracts big crowds in his adopted fighting home of Montreal, Canada. Against Froch, however, he attempts to make a tenth successful defence of his IBF championship in the 168lb division by defeating his opponent in their own back yard.
In an effort to deal with the raucous support Froch will enjoy, Bute and his coaching staff have recreated a hostile environment during their training camp, playing jeers through speakers whilst even mimicking the ringside buoyancy of Froch’s noticeable girlfriend Rachel Cordingley, a popular lingerie model.
Leonard commented: “I didn’t realise that he fought the majority of his fights in Canada. It could be culture shock. It could be something he’s not used to. But for some reason I think he will rise to the occasion.”
On The Beak – Admin
Based on his last five fights, super middleweight contender Adonis Stevenson (18-1-0, 15ko) is beginning to live up to his nickname, Superman. Stevenson, his promoter, Yvon Michel, as well as his Hall of Fame manager/trainer, Emanuel Steward, believe he’s ready to fight any of the 168-pound top ten fighters/champions having already slayed Noe Gonzalez, Jesus Gonzales and Aaron Pryor Jr in his three most recent outings.
Stevenson’s display case is even threatening to collapse from the added weight of all his stored title belts: (reigning) WBC Silver, IBF Inter-Continental, NABA, NABO, plus the WBC International, WBC Continental Americas, and Canadian straps Adonis formerly held.
All he’s missing now is a world title belt, something he hopes to acquire this year, given a legitimate shot to challenge. Superman is qualified to fight any of the world super middleweight champions as a world-rated contender in each of the four major governing bodies: number two with the IBF, three with the WBC and seven with both the WBA and WBO.
The dream match for the Haitian-born Stevenson, who lives in the Montreal of Longueuill, is, of course, a showdown in Montreal with IBF champion Lucian Bute but the long-reigning world titlist is making a defense on May 26 against Carl Froch. Super WBA and WBC champion Andre Ward is practically locked into a fight with WBC light heavyweight title-holder Chad Dawson, likely in September.
“My goal is to become world champion,” Stevenson said. “I don’t care who I fight for the world title… Bute, Ward or any world champion. I want to prove that I’m the best super middleweight in the world. I have the best trainer in the world, Manny Steward, and he’s trained me to be much more than just a big puncher.
“I’ve improved a lot since I’ve been with him and I’m using my speed and movement to become more of a complete fighter. If none of the world champions are willing to fight me, I’ll continue improving, fighting top ten opponents, hopefully in a title eliminator, until I become a mandatory challenger.”
Michel added: “Adonis Stevenson has proven that he’s one of the best super middleweights in the world. He’s better than ever since he teamed up with Manny. We know that he’s ready for anybody and is the most deserving contender.
“If the WBC is seeking a replace for injured number one rated Anthony Dirrell, ‘Superman’ is ready to fight in a title eliminator against anybody. It’s only matter of time before ‘Superman’ adds a world title to his belt collection.”
On The Beak – Admin
Lucian Bute (30-0-0, 24ko) has been bothered by an infection in his foot since last Saturday, however, it will not implicate his upcoming IBF super middleweight world championship defence against Carl Froch (28-2-0, 20ko) in England on May 26 as the condition is improving. A specialist/doctor has prescribed antibiotics to Bute to treat the infection. He will meet with doctors again later this week to ensure that the foot is healing according to schedule.
Words: Denzil Stone – Atlantic City
Reigning IBF super middleweight title holder Lucian Bute and head coach Stephan Larouche are five weeks away from entering their enemy’s terrain to take on their tenth championship challenger Carl Froch at the Capital FM Arena, Nottingham on Saturday, May 26. Currently training in West Palm Beach, Florida, both Bute and Larouche have divulged certain aspects of their camp as they bid to quieten the expected partisan crowd in England.
Detailing their camp to date and plans for the immediate future, Larouche said: “We had a good start to training camp in February, sparring started three weeks ago [and] we leave Florida around mid-May to travel to England to acclimate, finalise preparations and add the finishing touches before the fight.”
Despite an undefeated record, nine successful defences and notable victories over Edison Miranda, Brian Magee and Glen Johnson, Bute (30-0-0, 24ko) has attracted criticism for the perceived lack of quality opponents when compared to those aligned with the Super Six World Boxing Classic finalists; Froch and Andre Ward. By taking on Froch, who continuously takes on the world’s best, Bute aims to silence the censure, however, in the words of his trainer, it will not come easy.
“We fully expect Lucian to experience some discomfort,” stated Larouche. “Fighting in England will be difficult [as] winning in Europe as the opposing boxer almost never happens. Lucian will have to play the spoiler. Most of the fans in attendance will be against him. Nobody there other than a few fans will want him to win. This is the first time that Lucian will live this experience. Lucian will have to work harder than he does for his fights in Quebec and if he does, at the end of the evening, he will be the hero of the crowd.”
Bute has amassed a reputation as both a headhunter due to his concussive uppercuts (see: victory over Jean Paul Mendy) as well as a bodysnatcher because of his tortuous punches to the midsection (see: triumph over Magee). The Canadian-Romanian, though, also has ring smarts and, against a fighter famed for his pressure and warrior kinsmanship, it is Bute’s ability to use the ring and keep himself out of harm’s way that could see him negate Froch’s advantages – much like Andre Dirrell tried to do (2009) and Andre Ward succeeded in (2011).
“Carl Froch has many strengths and we have to neutralise them all, as Andre Ward did last December,” Larouche conceded in a statement that implies the Super Six final could be a fight that influences how Larouche and Bute approach combat with Carl the Cobra. “Froch has an awkward style,” he added. “Lucian should expect to be hit from unconventional angles: From below, sideways, et cetera. Rest assured we are training to adapt to all situations.”
“By saying yes to fight Carl Froch in his hometown, I’m showing the world that I can fight anybody anywhere,” Bute said. “I expect a tough fight.”
Larouche has not only been devising strategy, engaging in pad-work and ensuring Bute’s body is in condition but also working on the mental aspects of fighting away from home comforts, as Lucian explained: “While training we recreate the atmosphere of what we expect to hear at the Capital FM Arena of Nottingham. I can’t hear the bell and I can’t even hear my coach talking to me. I will be ready to face not only Carl Froch but also the hostile atmosphere of Froch’s fans.
“I am training for a 12 round war so I am sure to have all the energy required to fight Carl Froch in his hometown. My objective is to win the fight and stay world champion.”
Only 20 percent of Bute’s opponents have managed to survive until the final bell. Froch, conversely, has never been knocked out. Is Lucian aiming to become the first to canvas the battle-tested 34-year-old? “I don’t target the KO but if it comes I will jump all over it,” he said, before concluding: “A KO would be a terrific ending to my fight.”