The super middleweight (168 lbs.) division has given fight fans some astounding bouts in recent years, none more exceptional than those offered up throughout Showtime’s Super-Six Tournament, which culminated with a victory by Andre Ward in the finale this past December.
Ward’s opponent that night was Carl Froch (28-2, 20 KO’s), who earned his way into the finale by defeating the division’s biggest names and collecting the WBC super middleweight strap in the process. But when the dust settled, Ward emerged the tournament winner by way of a unanimous decision to retain the WBA (super) and capture the WBC and the Ring Magazine super middleweight titles.
Although the tournament had been touted as a sure fire way to establish the top guy at 168 lbs., there was some argument it was simply not the case since undefeated Lucian Bute (30-0, 24 KO’s), owner of the IBF crown, was not a participant.
That all changes this Saturday night on Showtime when Bute crosses the Atlantic to defend his title against Froch in the challenger’s hometown of Nottingham, England. Though odds have yet to be posted here in Las Vegas, I expect Bute will be installed as at least a 2-1 betting favorite on the road.
Froch has proven to be at a major disadvantage against boxers who move well. Against both Dirrell and Ward he was clearly outclassed and in the latter case, completely dominated. Froch has shown a willingness to evolve with each fight and has undoubtedly come a long way since the days when he continued to take two punches just to land one of his own.
Bute has won six of his last seven fights by knockout and I for one believe he could very easily be coming in 7 for 7, but he elected to take his foot off the gas in his last bout with good friend and sparring partner Glen Johnson.
I believe Bute will not allow himself to get caught up in a test of wills with Froch and simply wants to retain his title and get a win against a very well known opponent. Doing so will not only increase his celebrity within the sport, but will ultimately better his negotiating power for upcoming mega-fights that seem to be on his radar at this time in his career.
There’s a lot more money at stake than there is pride so expect to see Bute execute an intelligent fight plan that may not result in a fan friendly fight. Pick: Bute by decision.
This week in Vegas
Tuff-N-Uff is making its way back to the South Point Arena on Friday for another excellent card featuring the future stars of MMA.
Along with a nicely stocked fight card from top to bottom, there will be free beer tasting, live bikini bull riding, and the “World’s Most Dangerous Man,” Ken Shamrock, present to sign autographs for fans.
Make plans to head there Friday night and stop by to say hello.
RECORD = 49-28 (64%)
Vegas-Runner, a pro sports bettor in Las Vegas, has been featured on CNBC/ESPN and currently holds the record for “Most Units Won” in a single year at the Sports Monitor. Follow VR @vegasrunner and at Pregame.com