By John G. Thompson: With so many boxing articles focusing on the will they or wont they question revolving around the sport’s two biggest stars Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, attention has been diverted from one of the best matchups of the year taking place this Saturday between and undefeated IBF super middleweight champion Lucian Bute and former WBC champ Carl Froch. If ever a fight was guaranteed to be a fan friendly affair, Bute vs. Froch promises to deliver; The fight takes place at 6pm (EST) on May 26th at the Nottingham Arena in the United Kingdom.
Fans have argued for years now whether the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao debacle is a black eye for boxing, or if the controversy will spill over into the main stream media enough to draw new fans and spectators into a sport with fewer marquee names than it had in the past. With Carl Froch vs. Lucian Bute this Saturday, you have a fight with the potential to turn casual sports fans into boxing fanatics. Unfortunately, both HBO and Showtime have passed on this match, and it seems unlikely that ESPN, Fox Sports, or Pay-Per-View will be getting contracts together for Froch vs. Bute in the next few days..
Much of the credit for the intrigue in this bout must go to Carl “The Cobra” Froch (28-2, 20 KO’s) who has fought nothing but top tier competition fight after fight since his spectacularly enjoyable war with Jean Pascal for the WBC belt back in 2008. Froch then journeyed to Connecticut to make the first defense of the title, stopping Jermain Taylor in the final round of a fight in which Froch was down on the score cards. Next Froch fought undefeated Andre Dirrell winning a very close decision some felt was attributed to Froch’s hometown advantage. Froch then traveled to Denmark to lose his first fight in another extremely close decision against Mikkel Kessler, some again claiming the decision went to the hometown fighter. Froch’s next two fights took place in Atlantic City where he outworked Glen Johnson and then lost a unanimous decision to Andre Ward in the Super Six Tournament finale.
Lucian “Le Tombeur” Bute (30-0, 24 KO’s) simply cannot claim the same level of competition, however, his fights have been extremely crowd pleasing since he emerged on the international boxing scene with his highly controversial points victory over Librado Andrade in Canada in 2008. Bute had been dominating the bout with superior boxing skills up until the final few rounds as he seemed to tire and Andrade relentlessly attacked, knocking Bute down in the final seconds of the match - reminiscent of Chavez vs. Taylor. The local referee Marlon Wright caused the controversy when he took too much time with his count and gifted the fight to Bute. Since then Bute has knocked out six of his seven opponents, including a fourth round knockout of Andrade in the rematch. Almost all of Bute’s bouts took place in his adopted home of Canada.
I won’t speculate on who will win Bute vs Froch. Froch has the sturdier chin, but Bute certainly has knockout power. Bute may be the better boxer of the two, but Froch seems to have the endurance and hometown advantage. I could certainly imagine a similar scenario to Bute vs. Andrade, where Bute takes an early lead but then fades in the later rounds as Froch looks for the knockout. But then again I could see this fight ending up any way imaginable from a first round knockout to a twelve round draw.
The one thing I cannot envision is this fight not being a crowd pleaser. It may be a fight between a Brit and a Romanian with Canadian citizenship, but it is the kind of fight Americans need to see. Neither fighter may be as famous, or in the same league as a Mayweather or Pacquiao, but regardless of name recognition this is the kind of elite matchup the sport needs – with fighters actually fighting the best available competition. Fortunately, Lucian Bute vs. Carl Froch will take place this Saturday. Unfortunately, it will not be televised for one of the largest markets on the globe. Talk about a black eye for boxing.
For boxing fans in American interested in watching, the fight will be broadcast online by Epix. Check their website: http://www.epixhd.com/sports/ for more details.