Weekend Afterthoughts, Featuring Carl Froch, Lucian Bute, And The Landscape At 168

Lucian Bute had a bit of an Ivan Drago quality to him heading into his fight this past weekend with Carl Froch in Nottingham, making Froch’s choice to use “No Easy Way Out” from the all-time classic film Rocky IV as his walkout music an absolute brilliant choice.

Bute, fighting for the first time on enemy turf since 2004, chose to ditch his usual regiment of coming to the ring to U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name,” and promptly got starched by Froch after nearly five mostly lopsided rounds. For the full report, check out Scott Kraus’ piece here.

 With our fearless leader Tim Starks out this week, Mark Ortega pinch hit this edition of the Weekend Afterthoughts. 

Does Bute enact the rematch clause? Considering how mostly one-sided the action was, a lot of people feel that Bute would be crazy to enact the rematch clause that was in the contract with Froch that would bring a return fight to the former champ’s stomping grounds in Montreal. While it is true Froch dominated, there was ever a slight glimmer here and there that at least Bute could land and if he had a new gameplan he could somehow reverse the result.


You also have to know that there is no greater immediate payday out there for Bute than a rematch; except for perhaps a fight with fellow Canadian resident Jean Pascal if Pascal gets by Tavoris Cloud.

Though the fight wasn’t as lopsided, remember that Juan Manuel Lopez fought an eventual rematch with his conqueror Orlando Salido, though it came after Lopez took an interim tuneup fight with Mike Oliver.

Similar to Lopez-Salido, Froch played spoiler to a future big fight between Bute and Andre Ward the way Salido spoiled a marinating Lopez and Yuriorkis Gamboa fight.

My immediate lean is that Bute doesn’t step right into a Froch fight, but I wouldn’t be as surprised as most.

How does this result affect the 168 pound division? Obviously, when Showtime signed Bute to a multi-fight contract, many were expecting him to fight the winner of the Super Six tournament following its conclusion.

Instead, Bute got rolled by the tournament runner-up, basically doing tournament champion Andre Ward’s dirty work for him in making it an easy decision to move up to 175 pounds if he beats Chad Dawson in September. Considering Ward clearly outpointed Froch and Ward’s dislike for leaving the confines of California, a rematch between the two on Froch’s homecourt is unlikely.

As for Froch’s future plans, a rematch with Mikkel Kessler, though slowed he is, would do big numbers considering their first fight was easily the standout bout in terms of action to take place during the Super Six. After seeing how Froch took out Bute and Kessler’s being buzzed by Allan Green last weekend, I think Froch gets the win before hearing the final bell.

If Ward does indeed move up to 175 if he secures a win against Dawson, Froch could finish out his career at super middleweight and be the top guy. There’s no question that he has earned it.

Froch’s legacy The run in which Froch has taken his last eight fights is among the most difficult stretches for any fighter in the past twenty years, and Froch’s 6-2 record in that span is no easy task. He is in that Manny Pacquiao conversation, except that Froch did this without the benefit of any catchweights or funny business. In picking up the IBF strap that Bute had carried since 2007, Froch is a “three time super middleweight champion”, though this is the first time Froch has beat a reigning champion; his first two titles came in a fight for the vacant title.

As far as where this win ranks for Carl, it is pretty easily his best, which says a lot considering, again, the level of opposition he has fought since fighting at the top level. There was some discussion on Twitter as far as how you would rank Froch’s wins, and I pretty much disagreed with the majority view.

Most people felt you would rank them this way: 1) TKO5 Bute 2) TKO12 Taylor 3) UD12 Pascal 4) UD12 Abraham 5) MD12 Dirrell.

I rank the Abraham win second for Carl, for a few reasons. Froch was coming off a tough loss to Kessler and was largely being counted out against Abraham, who himself was coming off a DQ loss to Dirrell. Though Dirrell was having his way with Abraham early on, as the fight wore, Abraham started closing the gap and the way in which the fight unsatisfyingly ended left Abraham not losing as much stock as if it were a clean defeat. Froch also showed another dimension in that he boxed extremely brilliantly with Abraham. Also, his fight prior to the Kessler defeat was a controversial points win over Dirrell in a fight many felt he lost.

You have to respect the fact that after being dealt a tough loss against Ward, Carl Froch immediately took the next most difficult possible challenge in taking on Bute. Though it was a homecoming, most fighters in this situation take a tuneup level opponent to get back in the win column. Froch said screw it and delivered a win to his hometown fans that they won’t soon forget.

Froch-Calzaghe debate When Froch first emerged on the world scene, a fight with Joe Calzaghe was oft-talked about but never realized because of the vast difference in their statuses at the time. With the Bute win, I would put Froch ahead of Calzaghe on credentials but felt Calzaghe was the wrong style for Froch and would have won on points. I think at the end of his career, Froch will be looked at more fondly on all-time lists than Calzaghe because he was unafraid to fight anyone.

I think that the Bute win will forever be compared to Calzaghe’s win over Jeff Lacy. Similarly, both Froch and Calzaghe scored these wins at home against undefeated foes that were made to be greater than their credentials would indicate. Bute and Lacy had both shown chinks in their armor in previous bouts, but still managed to be hailed as favorites against their UK counterparts. The difference is obvious in that Calzaghe was an underdog because of his soft resume and Froch was an underdog because of his tough stretch and recent defeat.

I’d still rank Froch’s win over Bute slightly ahead of Calzaghe’s over Lacy, but more light can be shed based on how Bute’s career plays out from this point on.

The Super Six Effect It is interesting to note that Bute didn’t put himself in the gauntlet that was the Super Six. What effect did the Super Six have on these two? For Bute, it prolonged his celebrity because he was able to feast on lower tier fighters while the majority of the top guys were tied up in the Super Six. I think most people will gauge that if Bute were in the tournament, he wouldn’t have found himself in the finals at the end of it.

Showtime-HBO-EPIX EPIX found a gem in the cracks that shouldn’t have even been available to them. Showtime has to really hope next weekend’s quadrupleheader from Carson, Calif. makes them look good after passing on Bute-Froch pretty much in favor of this card. I’d bet everything I have that whatever the action, the atmosphere won’t be anywhere near what we saw in Nottingham no matter how competitive these fights are on paper.

Other Tidbits Those 1000+ words briefly sum up my questions on Bute-Froch. Now here’s another 100 more for the rest of the weekend.

Pablo Cano, the young 21-year old who hung with Erik Morales for half a fight before being eventually TKOed got a win over former Humberto Soto victim Fidel Monterrosa. I think Cano showed a lot in the fight with Erik and I wouldn’t be surprised if he comes back from that loss to sustain a successful career. What he has going against him is a bad set of cheekbones that will have him prone to cuts and swelling for the rest of his career, which is bad given the clip at which he takes punches.

On the same card, Deontay Wilder laid out another stiff, this time with the first two punches he threw. Jesse Oltmanns went down, but seemed okay to continue, yet the referee stopped it as soon as he hit the canvas. I like Wilder’s dimensions and intangibles, but come on, this is getting pathetic.

And when is the last time a prized heavyweight prospect was hidden on obscurely televised fights from Mexico? That’s about the bulk of Wilder’s exposure for some reason. The activity would be helpful if he was hanging in the ring for longer than twenty seconds. Next he fights Owen Beck, who lost to a guy making his pro debut pretty recently. And STILL, Beck will be far and away his best opponent.

Interesting the routes in which Golden Boy has moved Seth Mitchell and Deontay Wilder respectively. I wonder which one will pan out in the long term. I have a feeling we won’t know until 2015 at the earliest.

Oh, and Sugar Ray Leonard did a good job as commentator for Bute-Froch on EPIX. Or maybe I just highly, highly, highly, prefer anyone over Freddie Roach. Mostly I just remember Leonard saying “He’s hurt! He’s hurt!” but that actually wasn’t bad narration. Maybe he was a bit rusty, I’d give him that gig full time. 

Mark Ortega can be reached via e-mail at ortegaliitr@gmail.com and followed via Twitter at www.twitter.com/MarkEOrtega. Mark also contributes to renowned boxing publications RING Magazine and Boxing Monthly, and is a member of the Boxing Writer’s Association of America and RING Ratings Advisory Panel. Check the June issue of Boxing Monthly OUT NOW for his piece on Timothy Bradley in anticipation of his clash with Manny Pacquiao.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.