Self confidence is the best outfit. Rock it and own it.
John J. Raspanti
Before he was annihilated by Carl Froch in 2012, former super middleweight champion Lucian Bute was deemed by many an unstoppable force.
At the time of the stoppage, he was undefeated in thirty professional fights with twenty-four devastating knockouts. He had a crisp jab and deadly uppercut. Some said he was lucky to escape with a victory over Librade Andrade in 2008, but in a rematch, Bute emphatically knocked out the tough Mexican in four rounds.
Born in Romania, but fighting out of Canada, Bute was idolized by Canadian boxing fans. He ate up the adulation. Quiet and unassuming, he seemed to grow more important with each victory.
Had the victories gone to his head?
At the weigh-in before his battle with Froch, the pre-fight favorite looked passive. After Froch clocked him with a right hand in the opening stanza, Bute‘s body shook. He tried to box, but was easily overpowered. He backed up and jabbed. He caught Froch with a strong left, but nothing happened.
In round four, Froch backed him into the ropes and unloaded. Bute tried to hold on. In round five his legs were gone. A final onslaught convinced the referee to stop the fight.
Bute made no excuses after the loss. Many said he was overrated. They were the same so-called experts who had once proclaimed him unbeatable. The former champion took some time off to be with his family.
Six months later he returned to the ring. His opponent was undefeated light heavyweight Denis Grachev. Expected to win easily, Bute struggled. He looked like a man battling himself. He hung on to win the bout by decision, but many wondered about his future.
Had the Froch fight shaken his confidence? A loss can be a devastating thing to a fighter. It’s even harder on one with an undefeated record. That aura is gone. After Mike Tyson lost to Buster Douglas in 1990, his invincibility disappeared.
Next weekend, Bute, 33, will be back in the ring against fellow Canadian superstar Jean Pascal at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada. He’s looked sharp in sparring, but questions linger.
Has he fully recovered from his loss to Froch?
Pascal’s confidence looks intact. After losing his light heavyweight title to Bernard Hopkins in 2011, he’s fought only two times. No matter says Pascal; he’ll take care of Bute with ease.
“I might retire Bute,” he told boxing.com.
Bute, aware that Pascal has had stamina issues in the past, plans to test him.
“Pascal is a fighter boxing between ninety and twelve seconds per round,” Bute told the Journal De Montréal. “He will not be able to keep up with the pace I set. It will be a one-way duel where I control the action.
“We have the tools to beat Jean Pascal. You will see the Lucian Bute of the past.”
Bute will need to summon his former self to defeat Pascal.
If he does he could win. If he doesn’t, Pascal, 31, will swarm him. The outcome could come down to one thing.