• Steve Bunce

Bute rematch makes sense for Froch

Steve Bunce May 29, 2012

A lot of people who watched the Lucian Bute v Carl Froch bout have now decided that Bute can't fight - and that's both a disgrace and a distortion of the facts.

The bottom line is that Carl got in the ring in Nottingham at the weekend and produced his best-ever performance to win the IBF super-middleweight championship.

It had everything: control, power, energy, desire, determination. The reason for that is quite simple: Carl knew, and his promoter Eddie Hearn knew, that this was the 'last chance saloon' for him at world-title level, and that was his motivation.

I actually don't think that Bute performed badly. If you look at the fourth round, bearing in mind he was hurt in the third and the crowd was on his back, he boxed really well: picking Carl off, catching him. But Carl was just relentless, stepping across Bute and giving him no space - and the last ten seconds of the fourth, when he really hurt him, ultimately decided the fight, which was stopped in the fifth.

Why are people playing down Carl's achievement? Well, it's just what British people do. I didn't think this was the right fight for Carl - but I'm not now going to hide behind the fact I got it wrong by saying Bute is rubbish. You can't write him off when the fight's over; you can't name the lottery numbers a minute after the draw.

While non-boxing people stood up and applauded him, some boxing pundits and people in the business started talking about how bad Bute was. That's just wrong. Unless your preview last week was, 'Lucian Bute is rubbish, don't buy a ticket, Carl will knock him out easily', you've got no right to open your mouth once the referee stops it. We overlook too many good and great performances.

We knew the opponents Bute had faced were not of the same quality as those Carl had met - but he's still won 30 times, including multiple world-title fights. He has performed in front of nearly 20,000 people in his adopted country Canada, where he is hero-worshipped. There's no way he's become a bad fighter overnight.

What we really didn't know, and what Hearn and trainer Rob McCracken didn't even know for sure, was just how much Carl had left after all those hard nights. Carl told me before the Bute battle that, hand on heart, he feels as fresh now as he's ever felt.

Although there was a rematch clause in the contract, Carl doesn't think there'll be another meeting, and he doesn't want one. I tend to agree with that - however, I think there's some good money in the rematch in front of 20,000 in Montreal. My gut feeling is to go with the rematch.

Bute might go away, look at it and say, 'I got this wrong, I got that wrong. I had a week off training with a bad toe, and I felt like I was coming down with something'. Plus the people around him will be saying, 'That wasn't you in there. You weren't there, but he was focused because it was his make or break'. There are always people desperate to get a beaten fighter back in a war.

In the hours after the fight ended you'd say there was no chance of a rematch, but as the days pass it will get more and more likely. Fighters have come back from much worse beatings, so don't rule it out.

Carl wants Mikkel Kessler and Andre Ward next, quite simply because he wants to get rid of the demons of losing to both of them. He'd face either of them for three quid, even if there was a massive payday on offer against Bute. Well, you get my meaning.

Kessler was in Nottingham on Saturday, and the people in charge of him at Sauerland Promotions will try and make it possible, in no uncertain terms.

Kessler is naturally tougher than Bute, but you've got to think that Carl would push him. The Froch that lost to Ward was a stranger to him and to me.

The Froch that beat Bute can beat anyone on any given night.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Steve Bunce has been ringside in Las Vegas over 50 times, he has been at five Olympics and has been writing about boxing for over 25 years for a variety of national newspapers in Britain, including four which folded! It is possible that his face and voice have appeared on over 60 channels worldwide in a variety of languages - his first novel The Fixer was published in 2010 to no acclaim; amazingly it has been shortlisted for Sports Book of the Year.