By: Mike Sloan: Carl Froch had mentioned a few times leading up to last Saturday night that he felt Lucian Bute was a bit overrated. After watching the Englishman dismantleButeand eventually remove him from consciousness, maybe Froch was onto something.
In all actuality, it’s unfair to labelButeas overrated simply because he had so many terrific wins on his ledger leading up to his battle against the twice-beaten Froch. Scoring victories over the likes of Edison Miranda, Librado Andrade (twice), Jean-Paul Mendy, and Glen Johnson are hardly an indication of a man who is more style over substance. Also, making the remark that the Romanian-Canadian was overrated going into his fight against Froch actually dims the sensational knockout scored by Froch and actually lessens his win.
One thing that is certain, though, is that Froch need not worry about retiring anytime soon; his dreadful performance against Andre Ward in which the American tore him apart for twelve rounds looks more like a blip on his career radar than anything else. In fact, Froch was so dominant that it’s not out of the realm of possibility that a second chance at Ward isn’t out of the question like it was before Saturday’s fight.
Butewas picked by many to topple Froch and remain unbeaten. He was the betting favorite going in and his overall smoother style of boxing was expected to be more effective than Froch’s reckless, crude, and essentially sloppy style of throwing bombs from odd angles. The notion was that while Froch would wind up to throw his loopy long-ranged punches,Butewould stay in the pocket and fire rapid, short, straight lead and counter punches throughout. While it was doubtful thatButewas going to knock Froch out, it was expected by many that he’d win a decision.
As it turned out, anybody who pickedButeto walk away the victor was sorely mistaken, a dozen eggs splattered across their faces.
Froch was relentless and bullied the then-unbeatenButearound the ring from the start.Butewon the opening round with clever counters – mostly his left hook – but the punches never shook Froch. Even whenButelanded a clean, precise punch, Froch shrugged it off and fired back.Buteseemed puzzled and discouraged that he couldn’t keep his foe at bay and backpedaled almost the entire fight.
Butewas hurt in the third but he recovered quickly and stuck to his gameplan. It looked as though ifButecould clear his head and time Froch’s deadly right hands, he’d eventually figure his opponent out and get into a rhythm.
Froch never let that happen; he hurt him badly late in the fourth round.
Froch swarmedButerepeatedly and was able to eventually detonate that lethal right hand on his jaw one too many times. OnceButestiffened against the ropes in the fifth, he had no prayer of surviving the attrition. Froch pounced all over him and unleashed a hellish fury until referee Earl Brown rescuedButeto administer a standing eight count.
From there, all hell and confusion broke out. Froch’s manager Eddie Hearn ran into the ring and scooped his fighter up, though Brown didn’t notice it. After realizing that he was out on his feet, Bute’s corner men climbed into the ring to call off the fight while Brown was still observingBute, but the ref then quickly waived off the fight.
Froch could have been disqualified, but luckily he wasn’t; that matter of technicalities wouldn’t have altered the fact thatButewas knocked clean into the stratosphere with the final barrage of bombs from Froch. Still, it begs the boxing fan to ask several questions.
For starters, the rematch clause in their contract is automatically triggered to set up an immediate second go-round in Bute’s hometown ofMontreal. But considering how badly he was dominated, it might not be too great an idea forButeto climb back into the ring against Froch. That’s not to say thatButeis damaged goods, but it’s doubtful a change of venue will skew the outcome of a rematch. Granted, Bute will probably fight a little more intelligently and correct some of the defensive mistakes he made against Froch, but the Nottingham native will be such a massive favorite going into a rematch and the demand for such a fight will be at an all-time low; the polar opposite of how things were mere hours before they climbed into the ring on Saturday.
Also, the potential super fight between unbeatenButeand Ward has been thrown out the window. Ward is scheduled to lock horns with light heavyweight king Chad Dawson in the Fall, but the idea of a Bute-Ward showdown was one of the most intriguing the sport of boxing had to offer. In keeping with Ward, it’s unlikely that Froch will get another crack at him considering how one-sided and lackluster their first encounter was. Also, Froch intimated that he doesn’t have a personal desire to scrap again with the unbeaten American anytime soon.
Where does this leave bothButeand Froch? ForBute, the future is a murky one. Outside ofMontrealand the hardcore boxing fans,Buteis a virtual unknown the world over. And after having tasted such an emphatic defeat, his stock unfortunately has plummeted into the cellar. He’s still a terrific fighter, but the super middleweight division isn’t stacked with a plethora of superstars that will warrant a sold out arena or a major television gig that will generate millions. It’s a silly ideal the boxing world is known for, but once a guy loses for the first time, he suddenly becomes worthless (though that has been proven incorrect hundreds of times and the “experts” never learn).
Butewill likely settle for a softie return bout and then sign the dotted line to fight a credible opponent. Good choices for him would be comebacking Andre Dirrell, Andrade conqueror Rowland Bryant (for the obvious angle, though that’s unlikely), Kelly Pavlik, Mikkel Kessler or local rival Adonis Stevenson inQuebec. Every one of those fights makes sense forButeand they’d generate enough interest to keep his name out there. And most importantly,Butecould beat every one of them. Provided he can pass a few of these names – or similar opposition – a rematch with Froch would then via marketable and alluring. The last thing he should do is jump head first into an immediate second fight with Froch.
As for Froch, his future is so bright that he has to wear sunglasses. Ward is out of the picture and it’s unlikely those two will ever fight again. He could try to avenge the first loss of his career by taking on Kessler again. If not the Danish fighter, he could land a huge mega fight with Sergio Martinez. There are plenty of guys between 160 and 175 that Froch could wind up trading blows with, and considering how popular he has been the past few years and how sensational he looked on Saturday night, he could take on a litany of foes. Names like Nathan Cleverly, Julio Cesar Chavez (though that won’t happen due to him being so protected), Zsolt Erdei, Felix Sturm, Robert Steiglitz, Martin Murray, and a few others are all superb opponents for Froch.
Where the two go from here is anybody’s guess, but don’t be surprised to see the ageless Bernard Hopkins decide to not retire and face one of these two men, with the leading candidate being Froch.
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