Lucian Bute Makes Fans Proud by Putting Duty and Honour First

Horea “A. R.” Ursu - Montréal’s IBF super-middleweight champion Lucian Bute is one of the few good guys in boxing. For many months, Bute has been carefully considering the tempting prospect of unifying against WBC strap-holder Carl Froch in England in his forthcoming fight, and serious negotiations were carried out between the two camps with this in mind. Ultimately, however, Bute decided to fulfil his mandatory title defence obligation first..

In the autumn of last year, fighting dangerous, much underrated mandatory challenger Librado Andrade, Bute gave everything he had for twelve rounds minus two seconds, was knocked down but found the extra bit of strength required to clear the floor and beat the count, putting the decision in the hands of the judges. He won fair and square[1] according to the IBF, but widespread incompetent reporting by journalists who had no knowledge of the rules governing the fight led many casual fans to believe either that Bute should have been declared technically knocked out because he was in no position to continue or that the referee had prevented Andrade from finishing Bute off by giving Bute a long count. The non-controversy aside,to the excitement of the over 16,000 fans in attendance, Bute vs. Andrade more than lived up to its billing, and as expected, it proved a very close, contested affair.[2] Although he won, Bute didn’t look like the winner at the final bell; he certainly didn’t prove he was clearly the better man. Boxing cried out for a rematch, the fans demanded it, Librado Andrade more than deserves it, and Bute fans prayed for it. Now, finally, it's happening!

In re-matching Andrade, Lucian Bute will be discharging himself of his moral obligation to boxing, to his opponent and to his fans.[3]But why did Bute prefer to rematch Andrade instead of unifying against Froch? Is Bute afraid of Froch? Bute has a considerably smaller chance of losing to Froch than of losing to an even more motivated, aggressive and ruthless Andrade looking for revenge. In other words, the risk associated with re-matching Andrade is higher than the risk associated with unifying against Froch.

Where the reward is concerned, Bute would have much more to gain in terms of personal glory by unifying against Froch than by re-matching Andrade. After all, Bute would get little credit from most of his critics for beating Andrade again. Still, Bute had been seriously talking about his dream to unify the title since last autumn. With this in mind, his promoter started negotiating with WBA champ Mikkel Kessler, WBC mandatory challenger Jermain Taylor and then, with WBC strap-holder Carl Froch, once the latter caused a mild upset in defending his strap successfully against Taylor in April. So, what made Bute decide to defer the glory that comes with being involved in a unification fight? Was it money? If internet rumours are to be believed, Bute would have earned slightly more by fighting Froch in England than he will be earning against Andrade. Was he unwilling to travel? Bute insists he is willing to fight anyone, anywhere, but then, most fighters say that too... but, given that negotiations with the Froch camp were based on the premise Bute would fight Froch in the Nottingham native’s home town or in London, it appears Bute wasn't unwilling to travel.

Now that Froch’s stock is higher than ever and that many boxing fans are overrating him on the basis of his performance against former middleweight Jermain Taylor, the risk/reward ratio clearly indicates Bute would be mad not to try to fight Froch as soon as possible. Moreover, there seem to be no deal-breakers that could have made Bute unwilling to fight Froch. So why Andrade and not Froch? The truth is that Bute’s enthusiasm for a unification fight was marred by the haunting thought he still had unfinished business with Andrade. Even a good performance against Fulgencio Zuniga was not enough to eradicate from Bute’s mind his fight against Andrade. Bute simply felt he had no other choice but to rematch Andrade; he needed to put the record straight, to prove without a shadow of a doubt he was the better man and the deserved winner of their first encounter:-

“I would even go as far as the land of China to see my rematch against Andrade come about. I am ready to fight him anywhere, anytime. The only thing that I care about is that Andrade be there, in front of me, in the ring. As long as he is my opponent, nothing else matters”, Bute insisted on Tuesday.

Bute’s promoter, InterBox owner and chief negotiator Jean Bédard, admitted Bute had rather forced his hand: “Lucian told me he thinks of Andrade day, noon and night, as he wakes up in the morning, as he goes to bed and every time he hits the heavy bag; he absolutely wants to dispel all remaining doubts relating to Andrade and their first engagement and to put the record straight once and for all before moving on to other, greater things. With Lucian, it’s not just about business. It’s also about what his heart desires. It’s not that we’re afraid of fighting Froch. Instead, it’s really what he, Lucian Bute, wants.”

In the next few days, we will find out whether Andrade’s promoter Golden Boy Promotions will pit Bute versus Andrade on the Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Mayweather undercard on the 19th of September in Las Vegas or in front of a sell-out crowd at Bell Centre, Montréal, where Andrade fought his last two fights and where Bute is a regular attraction.

Wherever the rematch is ultimately fought, one thing is certain - by putting his honour and duty to boxing before personal glory and wealth and by going against the ignoble but ubiquitous logic of risk versus reward, Bute has made his fans very proud. Sã ne trãiþi, Lucicã!

Article posted on 04.07.2009

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