MONTREAL – IBF super-middleweight champion Lucian Bute of Montreal hopes to make his next title defence against Englishman Carl Froch, even though the U.S. specialty channel Showtime is not interested in airing that matchup.
Bute’s promoter Jean Bedard of InterBox said Friday he will begin negotiations immediately with the Froch camp for a bout April 14 in Quebec City.
“Carl Froch is the fight we want and we will do everything we can to make it happen,” Bedard said on a conference call. “We owe it to our fans.”
Bute (30-0) had planned to face the winner of Showtime’s Super-Six tournament, which was won by American Andre Ward with a 12-round unanimous decision on Dec. 17 over Froch (28-2).
Bedard said Ward was unavailable due to injury.
Showtime proposed that Bute face Andre Dirrell, an American who lost to Froch by split decision in 2009 in Nottingham, England. InterBox was not interested in that bout and elected to try to make a deal with Froch on their own.
Bedard is uncertain if Froch will agree to fight without Showtime as the purse would likely be lower without a U.S. broadcaster, unless a rival channel like HBO steps in.
“My goal was to fight the winner of the Super-Six,” said Bute. “But if (Ward) is not ready, I’m willing to wait for him to rest up and I’m ready to fight him in the summer, anywhere in the world.
“When the tournament ended, I was glad to hear (Froch) say he wanted to fight me. Now, I’m training for Froch and I hope he’ll keep his word and fight me in April.”
The right-handed Froch is a tough, physical fighter whose style would contrast sharply with southpaw Bute’s speed and elegance in the ring.
“Froch was the most exciting guy in the Super-Six,” said Bute’s trainer Stephan Larouche.
He is also known to Quebec fans as the first fighter to defeat Jean Pascal of Montreal in a close decision for the then-vacant WBC title in 2008 in Nottingham, Froch’s hometown.
After winning the Super-Six, Ward said Bute needed to prove himself against top contenders to earn a shot at his WBC title. The Romanian-born Bute has had trouble finding top-level opponents, partly because most were tied up in the Super-Six the last two years.
Bute was not included in the Super-Six, although Showtime signed a separate deal with him believed to be for three fights. The third and last was supposed to be against the Super-Six winner.
Bute defended the IBF belt he won in 2007 for the ninth time when he pounded out a clear decision over Glen Johnson on Nov. 5.