NOTTINGHAM, England — How many times have we heard a fighter blame a lackluster performance on an injury? David Haye blamed a broken pinky toe for his loss to Wladimir Klitschko. Audley Harrison blamed a torn pectoral muscle for his lopsided loss to Haye. Zab Judah claimed he was exhausted in his loss to Carlos Baldomir because Don King forced him to do too many interviews before the fight.
Excuses have become part of the fiber of the sport. So you can imagine when I received a press release from IBF super middleweight Lucian Bute’s camp earlier this month about an infection Bute suffered in his right big toe, I wondered if this was Bute’s team floating an early excuse for a potential loss to Carl Froch on Saturday night (6 p.m. ET, Epix, EpixHD.com).
Bute says that could not be further from the truth. First, some facts: Late last month, Bute decided to try on a new pair of shoes to train with. During that first training session, Bute began to develop blisters on both of his toes. The blister on a right toe became infected, making it painful to walk on and, worse, causing a shooting pain to run up his right leg. The infection also led to a fever and weakened him for days.
Ultimately, Bute went and saw a doctor, who diagnosed the infection and put him on a ten-day regiment of antibiotics. The injury forced him out of two days of training — and even had his trainer, Stephan Larouche, contemplating canceling the fight — but Bute was able to recover quickly enough to resume a normal schedule.
Bute says his team had no intention of releasing the information until an Internet report appeared exposing the injury. To settle uneasiness in the Froch camp, Bute issued a statement making it clear he would move forward with the fight.
Give Bute credit: These days many fighters who experience an injury that significantly disrupts training will postpone the fight. But Bute was determined to move forward. After speaking with him on Friday, I get the sense that this fight means a lot to him. He understands the rap on him is that he always fights close to home. He thinks (correctly, in my opinion) that a win over Froch on his home turf will end all that talk, which is why he is taking a paycut to do it. He says he is approaching this fight like the title is vacant and that he has to win it all over again if he is going to bring it back to Canada.
Whatever happens, however, Bute won’t be blaming his toe.
– Chris Mannix