Former IBF 168 lb champion Lucian Bute will return to the ring on Saturday night after 19 months out of action through injury to face little known Italian fighter Andrea Di Luisa over 10 rounds in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
The last time we saw Bute in a ring was January of 2014 when he dropped a wide decision to another Canadian based fighter in Jean Pascal, and a mooted December 2014 return was also dropped when he suffered a back injury in training – yet with all those problems firmly behind him, the now 35 year old Bute has insisted he is in confident mood ahead of his return.
Speaking at yesterday’s final presser, he said;
“I would like to thank Andrea Di Luisa for accepting this challenge and to fight me at home. My preparation was great.
“In the last few years, I had health problems that affected my performances. What I can say now is that I’m fully healthy. I did almost 100 rounds of sparring for this fight. I am back.”
British fans may best remember Bute from May 2012, when he travelled to Nottingham to face a Carl Froch who was 5 months removed from dropping his WBC 168 lb strap to the classy Andre Ward in the final of the Super Six.
Bute, previously unbeaten, was dominated and stopped by “The Cobra” inside 5 one sided rounds in the bear-pit atmosphere of Froch’s Nottingham backyard.
Due to his various problems he has only boxed twice since that time, including the Pascal fight, with the sole contest in between a 12 round decision over former kickboxer Denis Grachev.
Despite the victory, the performance was relatively unconvincing given the opposition (then 12-0-1), leaving many to question what exactly he has left in the tank in order to compete at top level.
We certainly won’t learn much about that from Saturday’s 171 lb catch-weight fight, which is against a relative novice who is yet to box outside of Italy, although given the lay-off such a fight is perfectly understandable on this occasion, however at 35, time is hardly on Bute’s side.
Chief support comes at 175 lbs from Colombian former Olympian Eleider Alvarez (17-0, 10 KOs), who is squaring off against Isidro Ranoni Prieto (24-0-3, 20 KOs), of Paraguay.