Lucian Bute (right) defends his IBF super middleweight title against Carl Froch (left) on Saturday. (Andrew Couldridge/ZUMAPRESS.com)
SI.com’s boxing experts predict Saturday’s super middleweight title fight between Lucian Bute and Carl Froch (6 p.m. ET, Epix/EpixHD.com). Share your prediction in the comments below.
Here’s my biggest question coming into this fight: Can Lucian Bute win a decision in Carl Froch’s backyard? Maybe I’m a cynic, or maybe I have seen one too many abominable decisions in boxing. The three judges are from Canada, the U.S. and Great Britain — but if Froch keeps the fight close, he may have a chance to steal it, literally.
The advantage Bute has is that I think he has a big edge in the skills department. Bute has a stinging jab, is a savage body puncher and has a crisp uppercut that I think the aggressive Froch will walk into a few too many times. Froch belittles Bute’s competition but in his last fight Bute wiped out Glen Johnson more impressively than Froch did one fight earlier.
If Bute is on his game, I think he wins handily. Froch is a good fighter but he’s hittable and he takes a lot of shots. Froch dismissed Bute’s uppercut when I asked him about it on Wednesday but there is no question it will be a formidable weapon in this fight. Bute has shown a wobbily chin the past but if he can keep Froch off of him early with the jab he can control this fight, perhaps even position himself for a knockout in the later rounds. Bute by split decision.
Froch clearly wants to make some noise in this fight. He has said that fans should expect “fireworks,” and that he’ll be coming in “with all guns blazing.” The ballistic strategy is probably the right one for Froch, who at 34 and coming off the loss to Andre Ward is nonetheless in a good place in his career. A win against the unbeaten Bute, in front of Froch’s home fans, would raise his stock right back up and give him the inside track on a bout with the winner of the proposed Sept. 8 Andre Ward-Chad Dawson fight.
Bute’s a southpaw. He’s fast and a very polished boxer, all elements that could make him a handful for Froch. The Canadian hero is also undefeated, but he has faced nowhere near the caliber of opposition that Froch has. Plus, his chin has to be in question (having capped off his decision win over Librado Andrade by getting more or less knocked out). If Froch does indeed pull the trigger from the start and can keep the pressure on, forcing Bute into a shootout, he should prevail. Froch by unanimous decision.
BRYAN ARMEN GRAHAM
Here’s a rare case of the burden of proof falling on the champion. Yes, Bute holds the IBF super middleweight title, sits at No. 11 in our pound-for-pound ratings and is undefeated after 30 fights, but the caliber of his opposition pales in comparison to Froch (whose resume includes fights with Jean Pascal, Jermain Taylor, Andre Dirrell, Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham, Glen Johnson and Andre Ward) and he’s fought just one bout outside of Canada.
An excellent puncher with great legs and above-average defense, Bute is well aware of the perils of a hometown decision. He passed up easy money to test himself in his opponent’s backyard, and I see him rising to the challenge. Bute is the naturally bigger and more mobile fighter, and he should be able to press those advantages against an opponent who’s looked a tad mechanical at times. Expect a disciplined body attack that breaks Froch down by the middle rounds, setting up an uncontroversial finish. Bute by late-round stoppage.