Bute vs Froch: A Night Of Redemption
By Chris Gibson
On 26th May 2012, the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham, England played host to the IBF super-middleweight title clash between Lucien Bute and Carl Froch.
Lucien Bute, with a record of 30-0 going into the fight, would travel to Froch’s hometown of Nottingham for the 10th defence of his IBF super-middleweight championship, something Froch described as ‘probably brave and stupid’ at the pre-fight press conference.
Bute had been criticised heavily in the press for only fighting at home and the list of opponents on his record was beginning to be questioned by many, notably Andre Ward who had recently defeated Froch in the final of the ‘Super 6 tournament’ so it was thought that this was a gamble that Bute had to take to enhance his reputation and get closer to a money-spinning unification fight with Ward.
Despite the fight taking place in Nottingham Bute went into the fight as the overwhelming favourite with bookmakers, boxing media, and fans across the globe. A big punching southpaw with decent hand speed it was thought that Bute, perceived to be the better boxer of the two and would be too much for Froch.
A formidable puncher with 24 knockouts on his unbeaten record Bute was coming into the fight off a KO victory over Jean-Paul Mendy and a shutout UD win over Jamaica’s Glen Johnson.
Froch’s only two defeats on his 28-2 record going into the fight had come against Mikkel Kessler and in the final of the ‘Super 6’ versus Andre Ward. The Cobra’s defeats had come against ‘pure’ boxers and it was thought by many that ‘Mister KO’ would cause Froch similar problems and win comfortably.
Unlike his opponent, Froch had put together an impressive resume over the years with multiple ‘names’ on his record and victories over Arthur Abraham and Glen Johnson sandwiched between his recent defeats to Kessler and Ward. It was thought that Froch’s best route to victory would be to turn the fight into a brawl from the off – and that’s exactly what happened.
The Capital FM arena was bouncing as the fighters made their way to the ring. The traveling fans’ shouts of ‘BUTE, BUTE’ were audible during the fighter introductions only to be drowned out by a raucous partisan crowd who had packed out the arena for The Cobra’s first fight on home soil in three years.
From the first bell, Froch was on the front foot pushing Bute back and landing some heavy shots, a cracking left hook rocked Bute and the two exchanged leather before referee Earl Brown broke up the boxers and had a word with the Nottingham fighter for punching on the break. Froch continued to be the aggressor, taking chances and did get caught with a hard left-hand counter in the later stages of the round.
We had dueling chants from the packed-out crowd at the start of the second and it was much of the same with Froch pushing the pace and his opponent back. The Canada based Romanian continued to look for that big left hand to little avail and was rocked by a thunderous right hand from Froch as the round drew to a close.
Froch continued his onslaught in the 3rd marching forward and hurt Bute inside the second minute with a great right uppercut and wobbled him with a left hook leaving the Romanian wishing he was back in Montreal and holding on to end the round which could easily be scored a 10/8.
We had a cagey start to round four, the best punch of the opening exchanges came from Bute who landed a beautiful left counter shot but it had little effect on the iron chinned Froch. Around 90 seconds into the round Froch launched into another ferocious attack on his opponent landing numerous power punches. The onslaught continued with referee Brown taking a close look at Bute, as Froch landed a huge left hand on the bell opening up a cut above the left eye of the champion, who was out on his feet as he retired to his corner.
The destruction was complete around 45 seconds into the fifth where Earl Brown mercifully stepped in and waved off the fight to the delight of the vast majority in the arena, including promoter Eddie Hearn who prematurely rushed into the ring and hoisted Froch into the air during the referees 10 count. Luckily Earl Brown stopped the count and waved off the fight just as Bute’s trainer Stephan Larouche entered the ring
A former 2-time WBC champion Froch became a 3-time world champion with this victory winning the IBF title, a belt he would never lose.
Froch executed a fantastic gameplan and was quick to heap praise on trainer Rob McCracken for putting it together. Hearn confirmed during a post-fight interview with Sky Sports’ Adam Smith that they were contractually obligated to rematch Bute in Montreal – the rematch never happened.
Froch would return to Nottingham to KO Yusuf Mack in November of 2012 before avenging his loss to Kessler and adding the WBA strap to his IBF title to become a unified world champion in front of a packed out O2 area in London in May the following year.
Froch would of course go on to twice battle George Groves, the second clash taking place in front of ‘80,000 people’ at Wembley stadium before retiring in 2014. Froch is widely regarded as one of the best fighters of his generation and his popularity and drawing power skyrocketed after the wonderful performance in this fight.
For Bute, the devastating loss to Froch would be his last outing at super-middleweight for around 3 years as he stepped up to light-heavyweight to win the NABF belt in an unforgettable fight against Denis Grachev. After a lengthy lay-off, Bute would lose the belt to Jean Pascal by UD in early 2014.
Bute would have an unsuccessful return to super-middleweight to battle James DeGale in 2015 for the same IBF title he lost to Froch. Further losses at the hands of Badou Jack and the impressive Eleider Álvarez would follow before his retirement from the sport in 2017.
Once ranked as the number one fighter in his division by The Ring magazine Bute was never the same after the crushing loss at the hands of ‘The Cobra’ in Nottingham.
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