According to ESPN boxing writer Dan Rafael, former IBF super middleweight champion Lucian Bute (30-1, 24 KOs) will exercise his rematch clause against Carl Froch (29-2, 21 KOs). Bute, of course, lost his title on May 26 via brutal fifth-round TKO in Froch’s hometown of Nottingham, England.
The caveat is that both men will first take interim bouts. Froch will defend the IBF title in November, and Bute will look to rebound in either Montreal or Quebec City in the fall, as well. As it stands, Bute and Froch are still seeking opponents, but logic dictates that their hypothetical foes will fall just below elite.
While it is important for Bute and Froch to stay sharp, a loss for either man in the interim would dampen the luster of the proposed rematch slated for March 2013 in Montreal.
Bute had made nine defenses of his IBF title—mostly via spectacular knockout or dominant decision—before wilting against Froch, and the inevitable response to his defeat was to question whether Bute was exposed.
So, is Bute doing the smart thing by opting for a rematch?
Given Bute’s class and his performance in championship fights, it seems premature to dismiss his accomplishments before the Froch debacle, even if his level of opposition hadn’t been elite.
In Rafael’s piece, Bute put his performance in perspective, claiming that it was completely out of character: “That was not the real Lucian Bute in that Nottingham ring on May 26.”
“I spent the last few weeks reflecting about what went wrong, what happened, and the only thing that is crystal clear in my mind is that I want my rematch with Carl Froch as soon as possible” Bute was quoted as saying in Rafael’s article.
Losses are a part of boxing, and despite the naysayers who scoff at Bute’s resume, his reputation might suffer more if he chooses to avoid Froch than if he were to lose to the powerful Englishman a second time. Bute seems to have made up his mind, and his public self-assurance so soon after losing his title is a positive indication that a rematch with Froch is in Bute’s best interest.
Bute’s promoter, Jean Bedard (InterBox), also expressed his confidence in Rafael’s article:
There is no hiding the fact that the result on May 26 was hard on everyone. But even in defeat, in the locker room after the fight and the days following the loss, I still felt Lucian had the fire in his belly to come back stronger and demand his rematch with Froch. Matchroom is a great organization to work with and I have been speaking to Eddie once or twice a week since May 26. I almost know his number by heart.
The fact that Bedard and Eddie Hearn (Froch’s promoter) are working together so closely and amicably pinpoints the other reason that a Bute-Froch rematch makes sense: money.
Bute-Froch II will draw upwards of 20,000 rabid fans in Montreal, and the event will be a massive draw on British television. Given the tantalizing storyline of Bute’s quest for redemption, expect an American network to show interest and bring the fight to a wider audience.
Froch is already a known commodity given his participation in the Super Six World Boxing Classic, and before losing to Froch, Bute had been in the midst of a contract with Showtime, which had given him increased exposure.
Against Froch, Bute was unable to control range with his jab, and Froch’s thudding right hands and awkward pressure style continuously forced Bute to cower against the ropes in what amounted to a shockingly one-sided outcome.
That said, Bute has not been subjected to extreme punishment throughout his career, and the knowledge that he will get his rematch against Froch in the safe confines of Montreal will certainly bolster his confidence.
The time to analyze Bute’s game plan from the first fight and what he must change should be left closer to the actual rematch. What is clear, however, is that Bute is showing a champion’s resolve in seeking a second fight against Froch.
Should he win his interim bout, Bute will enter the rematch with restored confidence, and it is this personal rebuilding and redemption that seem to be at the core of Bute’s mindset. Whether fans and writers think that Froch will simply overwhelm Bute again is irrelevant.
All that matters for Bute is that he gets another chance, and his determination, regardless of the outcome, will endear him to boxing fans, all while leading to his most lucrative payday. Intellectually, Bute has made the right call.
As for his in-ring prospects against Froch? Let the debate begin.