By Clive Bernath: On May 26 two of boxing’s true professionals will collide at the Capital FM Arena in middle England when unbeaten French Canadian Lucian Bute defends his IBF super-middleweight title against local hero Carl Froch.
The pair came together for the first time at a press conference in Nottingham on Monday and more than 3,000 tickets were quickly snapped up by eager local fight fans, which is testament to how well not only how popular Froch is in his part of the world but also the respect fans have for the champion.
For me this fight is one of the reasons why I love the sport of boxing so much. Here, we have two great boxers coming together when they have no need to. As far as I’m concerned Froch could be forgiven for taking an easier fight in front of his own fans after facing genuine world class opposition back to back for the last four years while Bute, who is an even bigger draw in his native Quebec, could quite easily earn big money defending his title on home soil.
But no, Froch prefers to continue boxing in elite class while Bute is happy to escape the home comforts and test his mettle in front of a hostile partisan crowd.
I’m sure serious boxing fans are fully aware of the calibre of The Cobra’s’ last seven opponents but I’ll quickly remind you, Jean Pascal, Jermain Taylor, Andre Dirrell, Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham, Glen Johnson and Andre Ward. A mightily impressive list of world class names I think you will agree which is why I feel he could be forgiven for selecting an easier route back following the points defeat to Ward last December.
Froch,28-2-(20), speaking at Monday’s press conference said: "There was talk of taking a steady fight after the seven top-level fights I’ve had on the spin against world-class, elite fighters.
"But I don’t really want to be mixing and involved with lower-level fighters so I said to (promoter) Eddie (Hearn) ’ideally, I want to be jumping back in there with top-level fighters’.
"You don’t see Floyd Mayweather having 10 months off and taking a warm-up fight."
Credit has to be afforded to Bute as well. He could of stayed home and made good money but knows how important it is to fight on the road and progress his career further.
“I’m Very happy and excited to be here today – I would like to thank Carl for accepting the fight and stepping in the ring with me,” said Bute at the press conference.
“Big fights take time to negotiate but I’m glad that this fight has come. Both Carl and I have had similar careers so far, for me it’s the right time to come away from home and defend my belt and in my heart I believe I will be victorious.
“I’ve been criticised for not fighting away from home. I remember when Joe Calzaghe fought away from home at the end of his career he received the respect he deserved for doing that and that’s what I am looking to do.
Bute, 30-0-(24), added: “Carl is a good strong aggressive fighter. He will have nine thousand fan cheering for him and not many for me. It has all the ingredients for a great fight.”
I for one am looking forward to this fight more than any other this year and would not be surprised if this is the Fight of the Year.
March 19, 2012