• Steve Bunce

Bute fight a mistake for fading Froch

Steve Bunce May 22, 2012
Carl Froch will try and win the IBF super-middleweight crown on Saturday © PA Photos
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I don't think for a second that Lucien Bute is going to regret travelling to Nottingham to face Carl Froch on Saturday - if anything, I think Bute's people aggressively pursued Froch after watching his performance against Andre Ward last December.

Bute will have seen signs of decline in Froch's performance against Ward, and even before that, when Froch overcame Glen Johnson. He will have been comparing that Froch with an earlier Froch.

When he met Ward, Froch did not look like himself: he was made at times to appear slow, ponderous and predictable. Ward's good, but he's not that good; he's not the second coming. Carl got in the ring that night and, to me, looked as if he didn't have much left and that his heart was not in the fight. It was an odd performance.

It's very possible that Froch's last seven fights, which have been against really tough opponents, have taken their toll. I think the Bute people have made the assumption that Froch has basically punched himself out. Plus, if Froch manages to upset the odds and win, Bute has a rematch clause up his sleeve.

Looking throughout history, boxers don't consistently have really hard battles back-to-back, because it takes a dreadful toll on a fighter.

If Froch was a bit fresher, I think he'd be a favourite and he'd win: if this fight had been made in 2010, I would have made Froch the overwhelming favourite. While facing top quality consistently is commendable, I feel it's going to cost him here.

For me, Froch needed a longer break and an easier fight after Ward. Okay, he's had some short breaks recently, but never a long one, and that makes the Bute match-up a mistake. To have this as a stepping stone post-Ward is bewildering, but brave.

It would take an almighty effort at this point in Carl's career to beat Bute. That said, Carl doesn't believe he can ever lose - in his mind his first pro defeat, against Kessler, could have gone either way, and against Ward he just got it wrong on the night. He'll still think he's invincible, and can walk straight through Bute.

Froch showed signs of decline even when beating Glen Johnson © Getty Images
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However, the way to beat Bute is to to fight with brain and not heart, and Froch is a smart fighter who has proved he can do that.

If Carl does lose, it's likely to draw him back towards the domestic scene - and that's no disaster, because there are some big paydays out there. A British-level fight doesn't mean taking on Kenny Anderson at the York Hall; it could mean a showdown at the O2 with George Groves or James DeGale. Meetings with DeGale or Groves could easily generate more money than Carl is getting for Bute, let's not forget that.

I would imagine that Groves and DeGale, win or lose on Saturday, will fancy a bite at Froch at some point. Carl's a proud guy, but money's going to motivate him. If there's big cash on the table for fighting DeGale or Groves then trust me, Carl would sell his granny for that fight.

Price is right to mention Klitschkos
If David Price and his people hadn't started screaming about one of the Klitschkos after he beat Sam Sexton, then they wouldn't have been doing their job properly. You can't start calling out about Chris Arreola, that's not right - you need to aim high.

Price is not ready for the Klitschkos at the moment, of course it's premature to think about getting into the ring with them - but he needs to put himself inside their orbit by talking about them. They are aware of him now.

We're very close to having a scenario of a void heavyweight world championship: ie. the period after the Klitschkos. We're not sure who's going to fill that; David Price is a contender, but he will want a crack at one of the Klitschkos before they retire.

Pre-Klitschkos, Robert Helenius would be a good opponent - as would Arreola, to be fair. And whyever not Audley Harrison, who meets Ali Adams on Saturday. Olympic gold medallist v bronze medallist - that fight would sell like mad.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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Steve Bunce has been ringside in Las Vegas over 50 times, he has been at five Olympics and has been writing about boxing for over 25 years for a variety of national newspapers in Britain, including four which folded! It is possible that his face and voice have appeared on over 60 channels worldwide in a variety of languages - his first novel The Fixer was published in 2010 to no acclaim; amazingly it has been shortlisted for Sports Book of the Year.