by David P. Greisman
To many, Lucian Bute is the best super middleweight not in Showtime’s “Super Six” tournament. That might not matter much longer.
The “Super Six” is scheduled to conclude Dec. 17. As for Bute, he’s set to fight this Saturday on Showtime against former light heavyweight champion and “Super Six” fill-in Glen Johnson.
The natural progression points to Bute (should he defeat Johnson) stepping into the ring with the tournament winner, be it Andre Ward or Carl Froch. Will that happen?
With Ken Hershman having departed the network for HBO, Showtime spokesman Chris DeBlasio is, for the moment, the point man for boxing questions.
BoxingScene.com: Is this the biggest and most important fight that Showtime’s had with Lucian Bute so far?
DeBlasio: “If you look at Lucian Bute’s career, this is probably the toughest and most experienced fighter he’ll ever face. In terms of what we’ve done with Bute, we’ve had him on our ‘ShoBox’ show on two occasions against Andrade [and Fulgencio Zuniga]. We saw him in two fights on ‘Showtime Championship Boxing’ so far [Brian Magee and highlights of his win over Jean Paul Mendy]. This, by far, is the biggest fight for him in terms of competition, and for our audience as well.”
BoxingScene.com: Was it important to move Bute along to this point considering the level of opposition in his previous fights?
DeBlasio: “I don’t know that it’s up to us to say that we’re moving him along. He expressed interest in fighting the best in the division. Obviously the best super middleweights in the world fight on Showtime. We’ve shown that over the last two years with the ‘Super Six’ tournament.
“So he expressed interest in fighting the best, and he’s getting the opportunity to do that on Showtime. It’s not a case of us pushing him toward that. This is his goal, his desire, to show he’s the best super middleweight in the world.”
BoxingScene.com: Should Bute win, are there certain fights Showtime would like to see him in next?
DeBlasio: “The obvious one as a fight fan myself, speaking personally, is to face the winner of the ‘Super Six.’ If he can get past Glen Johnson, him against the winner of the ‘Super Six’ is by far the biggest fight in the super-middleweight division’s history. Super middleweight’s not the oldest division in boxing, but this would be the most significant fight, in my opinion. It’d clearly be the two best guys out there.”
BoxingScene.com: If that fight doesn’t happen, or if it at least doesn’t happen yet, I know Showtime had been seeking to have Bute vs. Mikkel Kessler. Is that something the network would be interested in?
DeBlasio: “Yeah, I think so. Ultimately it’s up to the promoters, right? They have to come to terms on a fight, a purse, a venue, and an execution of a promotion. And then the TV network is secondary.
“If we want the opportunity to televise and show that fight, then we’ll throw our hat in the mix. If Bute is successful, even if he’s unsuccessful, he’s still a very viable and very competitive super middleweight. There are so many great super middleweights out there.
“I think we’d entertain a lot of options, the ‘Super Six’ winner being what I think would be the priority. I think that’s the priority for InterBox and for Lucian Bute, too, but that remains to be seen. It’s a little premature, Bute not having fought yet, plus we don’t really have a ‘Super Six’ winner yet either. That doesn’t come until Dec. 17. Those are all things that are swirling around. It’s premature to discuss his next opponent when he’s got one ahead of him.”
BoxingScene.com: What do you expect for Lucian Bute vs. Glen Johnson?
DeBlasio: “Glen Johnson has had almost 70 professional fights. And I haven’t seen any one where he shows up halfhearted or three quarters. He’s there 110 percent every time he fights. He gets in front of you, he walks you down and he’s a challenge. And he’s got a great chin and he has got a lot of power.
“I expect a really competitive fight. I don’t know if Johnson is fast enough to catch Bute, but if he does, he can certainly hurt him, and that spells excitement to me as a fan. Bute, he’s got all the tools, so he may prove to be too much for Glen Johnson.
“I really think that Bute would be listed as the favorite, but Johnson stands a very good chance to do some damage if he can land his big right hand.”
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter at twitter.com/fightingwords2 or on Facebook at facebook.com/fightingwordsboxing, or send questions and comments to email@example.com