Bute ready to move forward
By Dave Spencer
As he roams across the canvas in a near empty gym, former world champion Lucian Bute is dwarfed by a shadow that looms over the entire ring. Every jab, every power punch, there is an omnipresent presence dominating the landscape of this concrete bunker that has produced its fair share of world champions and is hoping for its first two-time champion as Bute makes his first step back from a devastating loss to Carl Froch this past spring and enters the Bell Centre ring this Saturday making the first step towards redemption against undefeated Denis Grachev (12-0-1 8KO).
That presence is one of Bute himself, a huge stadium sized banner brought back from his native Romania and one that dwarfs the ring and is almost symbolic of how big the affable southpaw had become.
For thirty fights, things were good. Very good. Full houses, premium cable television, nine title defenses, a definite ‘vedette’ or star in his adopted homeland of Quebec. For thirty fights, he was….huge. Banner sized huge. Then it came crashing down in a hurry against Froch who was initially viewed as a consolation prize after not being able to secure an Andre Ward fight.
“The damage is done,” Bute tells FightNews, Carl Froch won that night. I know I can do way better than this. I don’t want to put pressure on myself, I just want to be like Lucian Bute used to be which is throw punches and win fights.”
The mantra for Lucian Bute and his Interbox team in the past has always been, ‘If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.’ After the Froch fight, every detail is being examined inside and outside the ring. “I’ve cleaned my head of a lot of responsibility,” Bute said reflecting on the loss. “It’s not an excuse but I’ve got to just concentrate on my performance. When the fights were smaller, I could do everything myself,” he said referring to all the responsibilities that come along outside of the ring. “When things get bigger and bigger, it’s a major difference,” said Bute who manages himself.
The results didn’t show it as Bute was not only winning but winning impressively, but there were concerns that were not properly addressed according to trainer Stephane Larouche. “In the process of Lucian’s title defenses, with things going well, even if we had some problems in camp or preparation, when the results are good you’re happy and you don’t point fingers at everything you do. You always try to improve all the time but you don’t go back for a new recipe all the time.
“But we realized in the process that Lucian was for three or four fights throwing less punches every fight. Every output of punches was lower and lower. We noticed that, but at the same time, he kept winning. So was it maturity? Was he picking his punches with more accuracy? In the beginning, he was throwing 100 punches a round and it was too much. The middle was perfect. But then he was throwing less and hesitating more. We believe that things happen for a reason though and Lucian believes that will make him a stronger fighter, a better fighter. I think we’re even a stronger team now and the link is more solid. There is that much more attention to detail.”
While Bute won’t talk about the impending rematch set for March with Froch as he prepares for Grachev, he does point to what was in May and what went wrong, knowing it was not his best night.
Bute has erased doubts before. Or at least muffled them substantially for an extended period of time. After dragging himself off the canvas and propping himself up in the corner to hear the final bell in the first Librado Andrade fight, Bute came roaring back to become the first fighter to stop the powerful locomotive and did so in the fourth round.
Having come back from adversity is something that no doubt will serve the southpaw well for any return engagement. “I realize now even more than the Andrade fight how when you win you can be so high and when you lose so low. I know now more than ever that my task has to be solely focused on boxing. My head was too spread out; you don’t even notice it until you end up hitting the wall.
“I was okay in the dressing room, but maybe from the dressing room to the ring, maybe there. I recall I was completely off. Everything I wanted to do, I couldn’t do. Waiting and waiting, my head wasn’t there. I know I can do a lot better than this.”
As a trainer Larouche has never shied away from rematches. He’s done it with Bute before, with world title challenger Benoit Gaudet, and even did it with former world title holder Adrian Diaconu when the slugger won a fight but Larouche wanted more of a complete performance from his fighter.
It is also something he won’t willingly discuss before getting by Grachev.”It would be a major mistake to talk about it right now. We’ve never done that before, and we won’t do it now. Lucian has never talked about the second opponent.”
Bute sums it up it nicely, “If I don’t do well against Grachev, there won’t be any talk at all for a rematch with Froch.”
Larouche feels that the Russian born Grachev is just what his fighter needs at this point. “If you consider the way he lost his last fight, it was so one-sided that normally people would take a few fights to come back and find a few victims, fighting somebody with one arm. That’s not what we’re doing though; we’re doing it the hard way.”
“I respect him,” says Bute, “He’s a good puncher, he’s heavy handed with power in both hands…aggressive, good chin. He’s a good athlete.”
Bute is prepared to move forward now that after a nine year career, he has a loss on his record. “It not easy after your first loss. I’m not the first one and I’m not the last one to suffer a loss. It’s hurts and there was a lot of pain, but I’ve accepted it, I understand it, but it’s in the past. I’m looking forward, I’m not going backward.”