By Keith Idec
ATLANTIC CITY — Andre Ward doesn’t appear all that interested in facing Lucian Bute in his next fight.
Even if he does, the fight won’t happen in Montreal or Quebec City, where the Montreal-based Bute has become one of boxing’s biggest attractions.
“We don’t need to go there to fight him,” said Dan Goossen, Ward’s promoter. “We can do 16,000 fans in Oakland.”
Ward (25-0, 13 KOs) has plenty of leverage after defeating Carl Froch in the “Super Six World Boxing Classic” championship match Saturday night. The 2004 Olympic gold medalist owns the WBA and WBC super middleweight titles and is sure to move up on top 10 pound-for-pound lists following such an impressive performance against Froch (28-2, 20 KOs).
Nevertheless, a Ward-Bute bout would do bigger business either at Montreal’s Bell Centre, home of the NHL’s Canadiens, or Quebec City’s Pepsi Coliseum, where the Romanian-born Bute beat Glen Johnson by unanimous decision Nov. 5. The Bute-Johnson fight helped draw a crowd of 15,306, despite that Bute was a heavy favorite. A crowd of just 5,626 attended the Ward-Froch fight at Boardwalk Hall.
But Bute is willing to fight Ward in Oakland, where Ward trains.
“I can go to Oakland,” Bute said, before adding, “I’m thinking [Ward] will not come to Canada to fight me.”
Ward, a native of nearby Hayward, Calif., has fought four times at Oakland’s Oracle Arena over the past 2½ years. He and Goossen said following the Froch fight that Ward would like to fight in Las Vegas, something he hasn’t done since making his pro debut seven years ago.
Bute (30-0, 24 KOs) would fight Ward there, too, for the opportunity to settle the super middleweight debate in what would be a highly anticipated unification fight.
“I fought in Montreal only because I sold 15,000, 16,000 tickets,” said Bute, the IBF 168-pound champ. “And I received no offers from other fighters to fight outside of Montreal or Quebec City. That’s why I fought in Montreal, not because I didn’t want to fight outside of Montreal — because there were no offers, no options there.
“This is the next step in my career. I’ve been a world champion for four years and I’ve had nine successful title defenses, and now I’m contracted with Showtime. I’m very happy with that. And now I want to fight in the U.S., because it’s the next step. It’s my dream to fight in the U.S. That’s the next step in my career.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.