NOTTINGHAM, England — Here are three thoughts on Carl Froch’s spectacular fifth-round knockout win over Lucian Bute:
1. Carl Froch is the second-best super middleweight in the world. Throw out the loss to Andre Ward. Toss it. Trash it. Ward is elite, and odds are if he fights Froch 10 times he will get smoked 10 times. Ward is No. 1 in the division, but Froch should be ranked right behind him. Bute was widely considered the 1A 168-pounder, and Froch destroyed him. After an even first round, Froch turned on the pressure and pounded Bute into submission. Before the fight Bute said he didn’t want to spend the night on the end of Froch’s long jab. Froch didn’t give him the chance; he turned a prizefight into a street fight and had Bute out on his feet in the fifth round when his corner jumped into the ring to stop the fight. That was as impressive a win as anyone could ask for.
2. What happened to Bute? Bute’s plan coming was to put pressure on Froch, to make him fight the full three minutes every round. Instead, he couldn’t keep Froch off him. No excuses, either: Bute said before the fight he was in top shape, and looked it in the ring. He brought seven different sparring partners to camp, including a heavyweight, to simulate Froch’s aggressiveness and spoke confidently that his aggressiveness would be the key to the fight. But he was completely overmatched. Bute showed a great chin, absorbing shot after shot, haymaker after haymaker, refusing to go down. But his counterpunches didn’t faze Froch; he simply walked right through them.
To Bute’s credit, he marched into enemy territory and took less money than he could have made in Canada to prove that he could win outside of his adopted home country. But that fight could have been in Bute’s living room with his siblings as judges and he would not have had a shot.
3. So … Bute-Froch II? Bute has a rematch option, in Canada, and there will be plenty of money in it if he picks it up. A rematch would draw close to 20,000 fans at the Bell Centre in Montreal, or some other venue. Bute, however, may not be up for it. He took a pretty savage beating against Froch and may want a confidence boosting bout before he takes another shot. Froch will have options — he says a rematch with Ward is not one of them — including Mikkel Kessler, who beat Froch in 2010. Or Froch could opt for an easier title defense; his promoters were interested in Librado Andrade before Bute accepted the offer to come to England.
Suddenly, Froch has a bright future. He says he would have retired had he lost to Bute. Now, he is arguably the most appealing super middleweight in the division.