By Lem Satterfield
Unbeaten, Romanian-born southpaw IBF super middleweight titlist Lucien Bute of Canada will look to make a fight with former WBC and WBA king, Mikkel Kessler, of Denmark, if he defeats southpaw Brian Magee of Northern Ireland in Saturday night's Showtime televised clash from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, he said during Tuesday's national conference call.
Bute (27-0, 22 knockouts) first insisted that he is clearly focused on making the seventh defense of his belt against Magee (34-3-1, 24 KOs), who is 9-0-1, with five knockouts, including four straight stoppages since, himself, being knocked out by Carl Froch (27-1, 20 KOs), of England, in the 11th round in May of 2006.
"I'm concentrating on Brian Magee. I have not thought about anybody else other than Brian Magee," said Bute, who will be after his seventh knockout in eight fights, and his fifth straight stoppage against Magee.
"My objective is to have a good performance and to win the fight on Saturday," said Bute. "After that, I will think about whatever opponnent is going to come after I win this fight. My objective is to remain champion, to stay unbeaten, and to come out with a good performance on Saturday."
But Bute let on that if he defeats Magee, as expected, he will have has his eye on Kessler (43-2, 32 KOs), who, reportedly, will be at ringside on Saturday night.
"Once I defend my title against Brian Magee," said Bute, "I would like to fight Mikkel Kessler. Why not?"
As part of Showtime's Super Six World Super Middleweight Classic tournament, Kessler dethroned Froch as WBC champion by unanimous decision in April, this as a rebound after having suffered cuts over both eyes and bruises on his face during a November, 2009, 11th-round, technical decision loss to Andre Ward (23-0, 13 KOs) that dethroned Kessler as WBA titlist.
In August of 2010, however, Kessler cited an eye injury for having to withdraw from a September bout with Allan Green (29-3, 20 KOs) of Oklahoma that was to be part of the Super Six.
The injury had affected Kessler's vision for the previous few months, after which the fighter had been advised to stay away from sparring and boxing for at least nine months.
Kessler was then stripped of the WBC belt and named the organization's "emeritus" champion, leaving Froch to defeat former middleweight king, Arthur Abraham (32-2, 26 KOs), of Germany, by unanimous decision for the the vacant belt in November of 2010.
"I thought that I could fight Mikkel Kessler now in March, but he didn't heal enough in time after his injury for that to happen," said Bute. "So we have to concentrate on other opponents like Brian Magee."
In the Super Six semifinals, Ward has a May 14 clash against Abraham, and Froch, a May 21 fight opposite Glen Johnson (51-14-2, 35 KOs), of Miami.
Signing with Showtime, whose deal is paying Bute a reported $2 million per bout, gave the Canadian the opportunity to eye the Super Six results and to perhaps have his pick of the litter.
"When I signed my contract with Showtime, I knew that there were big fights coming up. Names like Kessler and the Super Six, that's who I wanted to fight. So I want Mikkel Kessler or anyone else," said Bute.
"Any of the other guys in the Super Six, that's who I want to fight next," said Bute. "I've been watching the Super Six, and I've been waiting for the Super Six to finish so that I can fight the guys who are available out there after the Super Six is over."
After signing on for a three-fight deal with Showtime in late October, Bute was on the way to routing Jesse Brinkley (35-6, 22 KOs) before scoring a Nov. 5, ninth-round knockout. In April, Bute nailed down a third-round stoppage of hard-hitting Edison Miranda (33-5, 29 KOs) from a vicious uppercut.
Bute, whose past two fights against Brinkley and Miranda took place at Bell Centre, has proven to be among the most dominant fighters not only in his weight class, but also, the sport, this, either by stopping opponents or widely out-pointing them.
"I don't really have too much worry about my opponents," said Bute. "Once I sign a contract, I concentrate on my opponents I prepare well for two months in advance where I'm just concentrating and focusing on my opponnent."
Bute's vicious body shots led to fourth-round stoppages of two straight rivals, Fulgencio Zuniga and Librado Andrade, respectively, in March and November of 2009.
"In all of my fights, I train with a strategy in mind that I've prepared with my trainer and I just take a few opportunites to study tapes of my opponents. I see openings, I see mistakes that they make," said Bute.
"I also see the good things that they do, and I work on my strategy accordingly," said Bute. "So I can let my arms go, I can allow my boxing to do my work in the ring. It comes naturally, the work that I do. The knockouts happen because I'm well-prepared for my fights."
Bute-Andrade was a rematch of the champion's unanimous decision victory over Andrade in October 2008, which ended in controversy at the Bell Centre.
Although Bute eventual defeated Andrade, 117-109, 115-111 and 115-110 on the judges' cards, he had to survive a near-final round knockout against Andrade, who entered the bout riding a three-fight winning streak, with a record of 24-1 with 18 stoppages, and with his lone defeat having come by decision against Kessler in March of 2007.
During two fights in 2006, Bute decisioned Andre Thysse and Loleng Mock, respectively, by 120-107, 120-108, 120-109, and, 120-109, 120-108, and, 118-111.
In February and June 2007, respectively, Bute dominated Sergey Tatevosyan, 119-108, on two judges' cards, and 120-108 on the third; as well as Sakio Bika, 118-109 on two cards, and 116-111 on the third.
During an October, 2007, 11th-round stoppage of Aljandro Berrio, Bute was ahead, 98-92, twice, and, 97-93 on the third card, earning the IBF belt in victory. Bute was up, 90-80, on all three cards before stopping former world champion, William Joppy, in the 10th round in February of 2008.
Joppy was stopped for only the second time in his career, the first time being a fifth-round knockout loss to Felix Trinidad in May 2001. Joppy had gone the distance with Bernard Hopkins and Jermain Taylor.
"I'm coming into the ring with the mentality to dominate every minute of every fight," said Bute. "I want to dominate my opponents, and if the knockout comes, then it comes. So far, I've been successful, and I will continue to do this. It's the same thing that I'm going to do on Saturday night."
Bute has recently entered some of the sport's pound-for-pound ratings, although he is far below boxers such as southpaw eight-division and WBO titlist, Manny Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 KOs), Floyd Mayweather (41-0, 25 KOs), and, southpaw WBC middleweight champion "emeritus" Sergio Martinez (47-2-2, 26 KOs).
"I really don't have it as a goal in my career to make rankings or the different rankings that are all over the place today in boxing," said Bute. "But my objective is to be the best that I can be, and, definitely to be recognized as a pound-for-pound king by my performances and my winnings in the ring."