By James Slater: Looked at by some people as the best super-middleweight in the world today, IBF champ Lucian Bute is widely expected to retain his title against mandatory challenger Jean-Paul Mendy when the two meet on July 9th. 37-year-old Mendy of France is a decent enough fighter, and of course he is unbeaten at 29-0-1(16).
A southpaw like Bute, Mendy didn’t cover himself in glory in his last fight, when he won a controversial 1st-round DQ over an overly aggressive Sakio Bika. Mendy has not fought since he was belted whilst on the floor by the Cameroon warrior in July of last year, and for this reason amongst others fans are unwilling to give him a better than below average shot against “La Tombeur.”
Fans really want to see 31-year-old Bute, 28-0(23) in with the best possible opposition, and the good news is the fact that Showtime will hold the date of November 5th open for the Romanian (providing, of course, he comes through without a hitch against Mendy) – with top names Mikkel Kessler and Kelly Pavlik being lined up to face him. According to Dan Rafael of ESPN.com, the T.V network’s first choice is Bute Vs. Kessler. Kessler returns to the ring this Saturday, against Mehdi Bouadla, 22-3(10) and if he and Bute both win their upcoming bouts, it looks promising that they will meet.
Kessler has asked for this fight for quite a while, and assuming his eye is 100-percent now, he will almost certainly give the Canadian hero a real fight. Pavlik, too, would provide an intriguing challenger for Bute; as rusty as he looked in his own ring return of May 7th.
Bute has looked quite sensational in some fights – see his wins over Librado Andrade (the second fight) and Edison Miranda – but he has also looked less than great against the likes of Andrade the first time around and Brian Magee last time out. No disrespect to the gutsy Magee, but Bute may have had some trouble getting himself seriously motivated for that title defence. Indeed, ahead of that fight, many fans were feeling they same way they are now, ahead of the Mendy bout: less than enthused.
Make no mistake, both the fans and Bute himself will be hugely motivated at the idea of a fight between the IBF champ and either Pavlik or Kessler. Kessler needs to look good against Bouadla, and Bute needs to see off Mendy. If the two come through as expected, we will likely be able to get excited about a genuinely risky fight for Bute on November 5th.