By T.K. Stewart
While the rest of the boxing world is somewhat enthralled with Showtime's Super Six World Boxing Classic super middleweight tournament, IBF 168-pound titlist Lucian Bute is content to be on the outside looking in.
Bute would have been a natural to be included in the tournament with other big name European stars such as Mikkel Kessler, Carl Froch and Arthur Abraham.
But Bute is the one glaring omission from the tourney and the Montreal-based Romanian is fine with his career choice to refrain from the tournament and he is instead looking forward to a Nov. 28 rematch with Librado Andrade.
The World Boxing Classic was the brainchild of Sr. Vice President of Showtime Sports, Ken Hershman, who has said in the past that Bute was "not invited to participate" in tournament without elaborating as to why.
Bute, undefeated at 24-0, 19 KOs is the biggest draw in Canadian professional boxing. His bouts have sold out the Bell Centre in Montreal which holds over 20,000 for boxing. His rematch against Andrade will likely sell out the Pepsi Coliseum in Quebec City on a card to be televised by HBO. Bute was ringside in Connecticut for Froch's big win over Jermain Taylor and the first fight between Bute and Andrade was televised by Showtime. Hershman appeared to have been grooming Bute for a long future with his network before the fighter's 11th hour defection to HBO.
Some have made the claim that Bute and his promoters are simply trying to avoid the toughest competition while continuing to collect big paydays in Canada. Whatever the case, Stephan Larouche, Director of Operations for Interbox, Bute's promoter, says that aside from hockey – Bute and the sport of boxing in Montreal is the hottest ticket in town - which could be one reason they are reluctant to leave Quebec.
“There are two big things in Montreal right now,” says Larouche. “Montreal Canadiens hockey and boxing and I'll tell you that boxing and Lucian Bute are not far behind hockey.”
Trying to find out why Bute was left out of the Super Six has been more challenging that trying to find the Lost Ark of the Covenant. It appears as though Golden Boy Promotions and HBO stepped in with some money to woo Bute away from the Showtime route to instead match him against their man, Andrade.
When the Bute vs. Andrade rematch was officially announced in August, Interbox CEO Jean Bedard was positively beaming. His praise of HBO was a clear shot across the bow at the Showtime network.
“It’s an honor for us to welcome HBO to Canada for the first time in over 30 years,” he said. “We look forward to collaborating with one of the greatest U.S. television networks. This will be a great opportunity for Lucian to get the highest visibility possible in his sport and to showcase all his skills to prove he’s a world class champion.”
Interbox took another dig at the Showtime tournament when they released the following statement: “...with the rematch scheduled, each [Bute and Andrade] hopes to leave everything in the ring on November 28th to settle fans curiosity over who is the true champion.”
Meanwhile, Larouche says that all the efforts they are putting behind Bute are paying off.
“Our goal is simple for Lucian; that's to bring a major television channel to Canada every time he fights. Our hope is that he will develop into the same attraction here that Ricky Hatton became in England.”
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