Froch and Bute deserve praise
Carl Froch and Lucian Bute deserve praise for taking the risk of fighting each other.
Carl Froch and Lucian Bute should be lauded because they're doing what many of their peers won't agree to do: take a risky fight under somewhat disadvantageous circumstances where a loss could prove costly.
They'll fight for Bute's International Boxing Federation super middleweight championship Saturday in Froch's hometown of Nottingham, England, in a bout that will be broadcast on Epix and streamed on EpixHD.com, beginning at 6 p.m. ET.
Bute is not only putting his title and unbeaten record on the line, he's agreed to leave his adopted home of Quebec to fight on the road.
There was little reason for Bute to do so – he was drawing overflow crowds whenever he fought in Quebec and was being paid handsomely to do it – but Bute wanted to seek out the best, and when a unification fight with Andre Ward couldn't be made, he turned to Froch.
Froch had fought a grueling series of bouts against elite competition, all while away from home. After losing the Super Six title to Ward in December, Froch decided that he wanted to fight his next bout in Nottingham.
It was hard to blame him. But it also would have been easy to understand Bute's insistence on remaining in Canada, where pretty much any other super middleweight in the world was willing to go because of the lucrative gates.
Bute, though, didn't allow it to devolve into the kind of situation that has prevented a bout between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao from being made.
"We made him an offer to come to Montreal," Bute said of Froch. "He turned it down. And maybe he was right, saying that he was away from home for a while [and] he wanted to fight at home. So we just told his promoter to make us an offer. We're going to go defend the belt in your place and we'll prove everybody wrong [who says] I'm only fighting in Montreal. So, I asked to go out to prove myself."
The result will be an intriguing fight between two of the best boxers in the world.
It's an example of what boxing should be about. When Bute won the belt, it wasn't the IBF Canadian title, it was the IBF world title. And, as Muhammad Ali used to say, that means defending it around the world.
Hall of Fame boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, who will serve as an analyst on the Epix broadcast, said fighting for one of the few times outside Canada won't come without risk for Bute.
"It could be a culture shock," Leonard said. "It could be something he's not used to. But for some reason I think he will rise to the occasion."
He'll face a formidable foe in Froch, who is in the midst of a somewhat unprecedented streak in modern boxing. The fight with Bute will be his eighth in succession against elite competition, with all of the fighters in their primes.
Since facing Jean Pascal on Dec. 6, 2008, he's gone against Jermain Taylor, Andre Dirrell, Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham, Glen Johnson and Ward. All of them have been world champions and all but Pascal and Kessler have been in the pound-for-pound rankings at one point or another.
That used to be the norm in boxing, but now, it's more often to fight two easy fights followed by one tough one.
Froch, though, has recovered from the loss to Ward and is convinced he'll lift the title from Bute.
"Mentally, I'm confident, I'm switched on, I'm ready," Froch said. "And I'm not licking my wounds. I'm not sulking. I'm not feeling sorry for myself because I lost my last fight. I'm really not. I'm taking confidence from that loss. I know where I went wrong and I know what I need to do to put it right. And I can beat Lucian Bute. I'm going to be a three-time world champion. That's the kind of stuff legends are made of."
It would be an equally legendary accomplishment for Bute to beat a quality fighter like Froch on his home turf.
Give Bute credit for being prepared, because not only did he prepare for Froch, but he also prepared for the well-known loud voice of Froch's girlfriend, Rachael Cordingley.
Bute is expecting an extremely loud venue rooting heartily for Froch. And with Cordingley sitting ringside shouting for Froch, it might be difficult to hear trainer Stephan Larouche in the corner.
So, much of Bute's sparring was done with loud music piped in that included the voice of a screaming woman.
"I'm sure it's going to be a little different in the ring, but I know that this fight is going to be an amazing atmosphere, something I never tried before," Bute said.
That's the point. He never tried it before, but he's willing to take a risk.
It's a bout between two of the best fighters in the world with a title at stake.
It's hard to ask for more.
Other than hoping and pray their peers will follow suit and do the same, that is.