- Lucian Bute v Carl Froch
Froch shows class with Bute demolition
Carl Froch revitalised his career with a stunning knockout victory over Lucian Bute to claim the IBF super-middleweight title.
Froch, the underdog on Saturday after losing in the final of the Super Six tournament to Andre Ward in his last outing, was deeply impressive against the highly-rated and unbeaten Canadian - coming out swinging and picking Bute apart quickly, eventually securing a fifth-round knockout to become a three-time champion at the weight.
"I was going to announce my retirement tonight if I lost, that's how close I was," Froch said. "It's still sinking in. After the Andre Ward fight I was very deflated, don't get me wrong I was beaten by a better man then but I was here tonight to put right a wrong.
"I was just on it tonight. If it had gone on for 12 rounds it would have been 12 rounds of that."
Bute was the bookies' favourite going into the fight in Froch's hometown of Nottingham, but that prediction looked to be some way off the mark as Froch made an extremely active start - looking so different to the stiff, immobile brawler who failed to get anywhere near Ward for much of his last fight.
The first two rounds saw both boxers make an impression with some clean technical shots, but it was Froch's power that seemed to be causing his opponent the greater pain.
The third round, however, saw the momentum of the fight swing firmly in Froch's favour - as the 34-year-old rained shot after shot on his opponent, who needed a combination of clinches, the ropes and the referee to stagger to the bell.
The fourth round saw more of the same; Bute struggling to find his legs as Froch kept on stepping forward. Again, it was the bell that saved Bute, as he took a stunning left hand in the final seconds of the round that seemed to cause him to completely lose his bearings.
A cut beneath his left eye led the referee to check Bute was fit to continue during the break; ultimately deciding that he probably was. The Canadian showed real grit and courage to keep facing up to Froch - he never shied away from the challenge, even as the punches kept coming - but within a minute of the sixth round Froch pinned him against the ropes and piled on with combination after combination to bring the contest to an end.
It was a strong right that finally ended the contest, but it was really only a matter of time as a stranded Bute took blow after blow.
"A lot of people wrote me off," Froch added. "The bookies got it wrong - as I said they would. I was here to push on, claim this IBF title - and that's what I've done.
"When I've got the guru [coach Rob McCracken] in my corner, nothing can go wrong."
Bute, as part of the fight negotiations, has a rematch clause back in his adopted Canada - although it remains to be seen whether it is exercised. In the event it is not, rematches against Mikkel Kessler or Andre Ward could be on the agenda.
"This was all or nothing for Carl Froch tonight," promoter Eddie Hearn said. "We are contracted to a rematch with Lucian Bute, and we'll take it in a heartbeat... if they want it. It was very one-sided tonight."
Earlier in the night, Carl Frampton extended his unbeaten run with victory over Raul Hirales, taking the IBF inter-continental title in the process.
It was a unanimous decision for the super-bantamweight, with the judges' scorecards reading 120-108 119-109 119-109.
"Easily the toughest fight of my career to date," Frampton said afterwards. "But I'm starting to prove now I'm the real deal."
Frampton will now search out a fight against EBU super-bantamweight champion Kiko Martinez.