By Keith Idec
Carl Froch couldn’t compliment Lucian Bute too much.
After crediting Bute for traveling to England to fight in his hometown Saturday night, Froch offered a reminder about Bute’s resume.
“You know, Lucian Bute, on paper is overrated,” Froch said while promoting their IBF super middleweight championship fight in Nottingham, England. “He’s an unbeaten fighter and he’s answered every question that’s been asked of him so far. Although you do have to remember that he got absolutely knocked out by Librado Andrade and saved by the bell, saved by the referee [Marlon Wright] or whoever saved him in the last round, because he was done, finished. Let’s be honest, he lost that fight by knockout.”
The controversial conclusion aside, Bute beat Andrade by unanimous decision (117-109, 115-110, 115-111) in the October 2008 fight Froch referenced. The Romanian-born southpaw redeemed himself in their rematch 13 months later by knocking out Andrade with a body shot in the fourth round.
Nevertheless, the ever-confident Froch feels as though Bute has received more credit than he deserves for getting to 30-0 and making nine defenses of a 168-pound crown he won in October 2007. The former WBC super middleweight champion is completely confident that he’ll be the toughest opponent of Bute’s 8½-year pro career when they meet at Nottingham’s Capital FM Arena (EPIX; 6 p.m. EDT; 3 p.m. PDT).
“This is his chance now to go into the lion’s den to fight somebody who’s proven at the world level, because I am proven at the world level,” Froch, 34, said. “I beat Jean Pascal, who went on to beat Chad Dawson. I know it’s on paper. I beat the man who beat the man. You know Chad Dawson’s a great fighter. … You know I’ve been in there with Pascal, Jermain Taylor, Andre Dirrell, who is a great fighter, Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham. I don’t need to reel them off, but very top-level, elite-level fighters.”
Froch (28-2, 20 KOs) and Bute (30-0, 24 KOs) have both beaten Brian Magee (36-4-1, 25 KOs) and former undisputed light heavyweight champ Glen Johnson (51-16-2, 35 KOs), but Froch definitely has been tested more frequently against top opposition.
“That doesn’t mean he’s not a great fighter and he’s not good enough to do that and go in there and beat them,” Froch said. “But what it does mean is we don’t know. We just don’t know. We’re going to find out, aren’t we? We’re going to find out Saturday if he has got enough to mix it at this level.
“If you’re going to ask me if I think he’s good enough, personally, I don’t know 100-percent if he’s good enough, but I’m going to find out. But before this fight, I would say he’s not fought anybody. He doesn’t deserve to ranked No. 1 or No. 2 [among super middleweights].”
The 32-year-old Bute shrugged off Froch’s critical comments.
“I’m not surprised that he said that,” Bute said. “He keeps saying bad stuff all the time. When he comes to fight, he likes to [make] that kind of comment. But I know who I am, I know what I did, and I know how I work. And let’s see what’s going to happen on the 26th.”
Bute did admit that Froch figures to be the most difficult foe of his career.
“You know, we have to look at his resume,” Bute said. “And obviously he fought the top-quality opposition of the super middleweights. … So we have to give him credit for that. So I have to admit that he’s probably my toughest, or highest-quality, opponent I have faced so far.
“And as far as what I think about him, as everybody knows he has a major will to win. He’s strong. He’s wild. He [was] never disqualified. We’ve seen that in a lot of fights. He’s always in until the end, and accounting for these things, so he brings strength, confidence and a lot of will to win.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.