Former champion Bute looks to take back IBF super-middleweight belt from DeGale

Former champion Bute looks to take back IBF super-middleweight belt from DeGale

Main pic: James DeGale, November 2011. Photo credit: Domfranks85. 

QUEBEC — When a battered Lucian Bute lost to Carl Froch in 2012, it looked to have cost him more than his International Boxing Federation super-middleweight title.

It looked like Bute’s reputation and boxing career were shot.

But Bute (32-2-0), a dual Romanian-Canadian citizen based in Laval, Que., never gave up, even after losing again in 2014 to Jean Pascal.

The 35-year-old will try to win back the IBF 168-pound belt on Saturday night when he takes on the new champion, 29-year-old Englishman James DeGale (21-1-0), in the first boxing card at the recently opened Videotron Centre.

“I’m very confident,” said Bute. “I have everything. I have good skill and power to knock DeGale out.”

The left-hander looks as fit and confident as at any time since the Froch debacle. Bute won the IBF belt in 2007 and defended it nine times before going to his opponent’s hometown of Nottingham, England, where he was pounded senseless and left bruised and dazed against the ropes.

The defeat left many wondering if Bute had been overrated all along and that the hard-hitting Froch had exposed the slick southpaw’s weak chin. Bute had also been left in a daze by Librado Andrade in 2008, but it was late in the last round and he was saved by the bell (and a slow count from referee Marlon B. Wright).

Looking back on it this week, Bute said: “This happens in boxing. Two good fighters step into the ring and one wins and the other loses.

“I lost this fight in 2012. I accept that. It was his night. Now I’ve changed my team, my head is focused. I feel great, healthy. Everything is on my side.”

He will need it against DeGale, the 2008 Olympic middleweight champion who will make a first defence of the title he won May 23 with a 12-round decision over American Andre Dirrell in Boston.

DeGale promises to come out swinging, looking to test Bute’s chin from the outset.

“I’m going to start fast,” said the 29-year-old Londoner, who wears an Arsenal badge on his shirt in a nod to his favourite English Premier League team. “I’m going to throw loads of punches and then we’ll see where we go.

“I watched him against Froch and Andrade. There’s something missing. When he gets hit, he folds a bit. Lucian Bute is very good in the centre of the ring — boxing, jabbing, moving at his own pace. When it gets stuck in, he doesn’t like it.”

DeGale had no qualms about taking a fight on Bute’s turf, even if some say it was because he is not popular in England.

“Since the Dirrell fight I think I’m winning them over,” he said. “I get a lot of support back home now.

“After the Olympics, I was 22 and I was a bit overconfident. I did a lot of talking. I lost to George Groves (in 2011) and things changed. Now I do my talking in the ring.”

Bute split with long-time trainer Stephan Larouche after the loss to Froch. He spent time with different trainers until linking up with Howard Grant seven months ago. So far, it looks like a good fit.

“I told Lucian ‘This guy’s going to try to blast you out in two or three rounds,’ and my projection is he’s the one that’s going to get knocked out,” said Grant. “You can’t come out like a kamikaze.

“We’ve got our plan.”

The co-feature has Montreal-based light heavyweight Eleider Alvarez (18-0) in an elimination bout with Isaac Chilemba (24-2-2) of South Africa. The winner becomes mandatory challenger for the WBC belt held by Montreal’s Adonis Stevenson.

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press

Categories: Sports

About Author

Write a Comment

Only registered users can comment.