MONTREAL - Lucian Bute and his suspect chin are set to return to the boxing ring for the first time since being sent crashing to the canvas by Carl Froch in May.
The previously undefeated fighter from Montreal will face unheralded Russian Denis Grachev (12-0-1) at the Bell Centre on Saturday night. The 12-round bout could be a first step in restoring Bute's tarnished reputation.
A win will set up a rematch on home soil with Froch, tentatively set for March 31.
''I defended my title 10 times but this is the most important fight.''
The 30-year-old Grachev, a former kick-boxer based in San Diego, was on no one's radar until his April bout against previously unbeaten Ismayl Sillakh. The Russian was knocked down in the third round but got up to floor Sillakh and end the fight in the eighth to claim the minor NABF light heavyweight title.
That belt will be on the line against Bute, although at a catch-weight of 170 pounds.
''I'll put a lot of pressure on Bute and he won't be able to handle it,'' said Grachev. ''That's my style, I can't fight different. 'Froch spoiled my goal. I like to fight undefeated guys. But Bute is a strong fighter. I like fighting him. I think I'm going to win. I would like to visit England and fight Carl Froch. I think this will be a big step for my career.''
The bout is to be aired in the U.S. on Wealth TV and on pay-per-view in Canada.