Boxing preview: Carl Froch vows to impress against Lucian Bute

Ciaran Shanks looks ahead to Carl Froch's bout against Lucian Bute in Nottingham on Saturday night

By Ciaran Shanks

Carl Froch has vowed to bite back with a vengeance on Saturday night as he looks to rebuild and become a three-time world super middleweight champion.

The 34-year-old knows he has much to prove when he steps into the ring with the imposing IBF champion Lucian Bute at the Capital FM Arena in his hometown of Nottingham after his last fight saw him outclassed by American prodigy Andre Ward.

The champion and challenger both attended the weigh-in outside of the arena in the blazing sunshine, with hundreds of fans – including a boat-load of Bute fans – in attendance and both weighed in at a lean 11st 13lbs.

Both Froch and Bute looked in excellent condition and exchanged words in the face to face photo shot.

That defeat to Ward in the final of the groundbreaking Super Six tournament at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey last December cost Froch his WBC belt and a huge dose of personal pride.

Yet ‘The Cobra’ has been granted an immediate shot at redemption when he challenges Canadian-based Romanian Bute who is also seeking to prove himself, in his first bout outside North America.

For Froch, whose only other defeat was at the hands of Kessler in Denmark in 2010, it is the chance to banish the demons from his loss to Ward and solidify his world title pedigree.

However, Bute enters the fight as the favourite as he is undefeated in 30 fights and possesses deceptively quick hand speed and a punishing southpaw left hand.

Bute’s use of a devastating and somewhat secret left uppercut to the body has toppled many of his opponents including Ireland’s Brian Magee who was defeated in Bute’s hometown of Montreal in March 2011.

However, there are some questions that hang over Bute including his dubious victory over Librado Andrade in 2008. Bute was well ahead on points in the twelfth round but lost his composure and when attempting a knockout, was floored himself by the Mexican with five seconds to go.

It appeared that the Canadian referee had given Bute plenty of time to recover and was more concerned about dealing with Andrade than the champion.

Despite being dazed and confused, Bute took a unanimous points decision.

Bute has been given a rather undeserved tag of a “protected” fighter who will not seek any risky fights. However, insisting on travelling to Froch’s back yard to fight simply rubbishes that suggestion, as he will be oozing confidence and has the luxury of a rematch clause in Montreal to fall back on.

The fight between Froch and Bute has been compared to Ricky Hatton’s finest hour when he faced legendary Russian-Australian Kostya Tszyu in 2005. “The Hitman” battled bravely to defy the odds and elevated his status from good to great on the world stage and great to immortal in Britain.

Froch has revealed a four-stage plan before he retires. It involves four victories, avenging two defeats and finishing his career culminating with a rematch with Ward in Las Vegas.

Such a plan would raise eyebrows amongst spectators and experts who believe Froch is simply too old. However, at the age of 34, Froch is at his peak and is one of the hardest workers in British boxing.

The only criticism of Froch can be that he often relies on his granite chin and warrior-like approach instead of focusing on his fundamentally-sound boxing skills. However, his eagerness to exchange in a war has earned him plaudits and has been a tremendous role model to young fighters breaking into the sport.

Speaking at the press conference on Wednesday to promote the fight, Froch said: “It was a very bad night for me against Ward and I’ve got a lot to prove now.

“This is the comeback from the bitter disappointment on that night in Atlantic City. I’ve been on the road now for three years, fighting away from home.

“Nothing has been easy but there is a really good feel about this fight with it being in Nottingham.

“I’ve got a fantastic fan base, as proved by the fact the arena will be sold out.

“Over the last three years I’ve been through every emotion, the highs and lows. I know what it’s like to taste defeat and its not nice.”

Froch, whose career record stands at 28 wins (20 by knockout) and two defeats, believes he can give his fans the finish they are looking for despite being the underdog against the unbeaten Bute.

He said: “I really feel I can catch him early with something sweet, he’s been knocked out before as an amateur, he’s been over as a pro and I’m going to do the same.

“It’s going to be punishing, it’s going to be hard but most importantly it’s going to be exciting.

“I thank Lucian Bute and his team for coming over, but I’m telling you now he’s made a big mistake.”

If Froch is to have success in this fight then he must pressure Bute early on and make sure he is scoring well on the cards.

Bute knows that if the fight goes to the final two rounds then he must match Froch blow for blow, pound for pound when Froch is at his most dangerous, looking for a finish just like he did against the likes of Jermain Taylor and Glen Johnson.

Froch’s failure to cope with Bute’s systematic style of punching could cause yet another agonising night for “The Cobra” but if Froch can just scrape it, utilising a solid jab and keep Bute at bay, then the world could yet again be Carl Froch’s oyster as he looks to seal his place into not only British, but world boxing folklore.

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