By Hans Olson
It’s been a few days since Lucian Bute’s shocking fifth round knockout loss to Carl “The Cobra” Froch, and with that, we look for more perspective.
Tuesday, Boxing Insider caught up with one of boxing’s best analysts, Russ Anber, who was ringside in Nottingham calling the fight for Canada’s French language broadcast on Canal Indigo.
Boxing Insider: So Russ, what made Carl Froch so successful against Lucian Bute last Saturday?”
Russ Anber: “Froch was able to basically exploit the one major flaw in Lucian Bute, and that was his ability to fight on the inside and at close quarters in somewhat of a toe-to-toe exchange. I think that made the difference in the fight. I think Froch’s ability to hit Bute as easily as he did I think surprised everybody. He was able to land shots and Lucian was virtually defenseless against it for whatever reason. His hands were down…he was getting hit with shots…and little by little they took their toll. In the third round he got hurt and as far as I’m concerned, he never really recovered from that shot.”
Lucian at one point..he stood back…he stood against the ropes and he invited a firefight. Why do you think he did that?
Russ Anber: “I think that was just a false sense of bravado if you ask me. I think he got hurt and he was trying to show that he wasn’t hurt. Everybody quickly—and this is I guess where people can see the same thing and have a very different view of what they think they saw—everybody started complaining saying Bute spent too much time on the ropes. As a trainer, my first look at that wasn’t that he spent too much time on the ropes, but that he didn’t know what to do when he was on the ropes. That was to me, what stood out the most.
We can use an example most recently with Mayweather and Cotto. Mayweather spent two-thirds of the fight leaned up against the ropes and was winning rounds! He was beating Cotto laying up against the ropes…so I’m not sure that just the fact of him going to the ropes was the problem, but more-so going to the ropes and not being able to deal with what was coming at him when he was on the ropes.”
It didn’t look like Lucian was able to maintain distance well, like he has in the past. Why do you think that was the case?
Russ Anber: “One of the things that was key in that, was that Bute never once followed up with a right hook following his straight left hand. As a matter of fact, I think you’d be hard pressed to find Bute actually putting together any type of combination. Everything seemed to be very singular in shot. When he was doing that, you could see that Froch was waiting on the back foot, waiting to counter punch. When he did, he found an exposed target. Bute having his hands down…you couldn’t do that with a dangerous puncher like Froch.
Time and time again Bute would throw that left hand and Froch would counter with a left hook and boom! It landed. It landed because there was nothing to stop it from landing. The hand wasn’t up and he was leaning in with the shot. I don’t care how good a guy’s chin is—and Bute certainly showed a good chin in the fight—you can’t just keep getting hammered away at it unless you’re Arturo Gatti or George Chuvalo.”
Do you think the fight was more what Lucian Bute didn’t do, or what Carl Froch did do?
Russ Anber: “You know, it’s probably equal. The thing is, the things that Froch did do, Bute did even less to protect against it…so it was amplified it even more. What Lucian wasn’t doing, and what Froch was doing was now magnified twice. It was made double what it was because it was pretty much the same thing. Froch was counter-punching, getting inside the perimeter. Bute was unable to hold him at distance and didn’t throw combinations, didn’t come back with his own right hook, and Froch was throwing his left hook, firing that left hand and he was throwing combinations. He was throwing four or five punches at a time…and they were landing.
The times when Bute was making Froch miss punches when he was on the ropes and bobbing and weaving in an attempt to make Froch miss—and he did make him miss—he never really came back, and if he did it was only with a singular shot and it wasn’t enough to hold Froch off him. By that point, Bute didn’t have the power, or he didn’t have the legs to have the power to generate the necessary power to hurt Froch or back him off.”
What do you think happens next time if Lucian does take the rematch? Obviously that might not even happen…but what could he do to have more success against Froch?
Russ Anber: “Unless he’s able to correct the flaw, then he’ll be playing into Froch’s strength again. In order to succeed on the world stage, you have to be able to handle when the firepower is coming at you. You’ve got to be able to pick it off and roll with it, slip and slide, tuck up on the inside and put your hands up and block and use a shield to block punches and be able to counter back from it. If he doesn’t do something like that, it’s going to be difficult hold off a guy with the firepower and the heavy hands of a Carl Froch.”
Do you think Lucian Bute can come back from this defeat?
Russ Anber: “I can’t say that I know the guy well enough, nor has he ever had to deal with this kind of adversity before, so it’s difficult for me to be able to make a factual statement as to what I think. Let’s put it this way, [Bute’s trainer] Stéphan Larouche said to me after the fight ‘it’s a bad loss…it’s a bad defeat.’ And it is. There’s never a good defeat, but there are certain ways of losing a fight, and there are other ways which are bad. This is one of the bad ones.
Great fighters have come back from crushing knockout defeats to win world titles, and then there are other fighters that have never been the same. Fernando Vargas has never been the same. Jermain Taylor has never been the same since the Kelly Pavlik fight. There are some guys that just don’t come back from that stuff. It’s going to be interesting to see how Lucian comes back. One thing that’s certain, if he’s not back with new versatility, it’s going to make the comeback even more difficult.”
Do you think up here in our region we’ve overrated Lucian? He’s getting killed in the press, as are the many writers like myself who thought very highly of him…
Russ Anber: “Unfortunately, our society and certainly our sport…breeds cowards. It breeds the naysayers that after you fail, they’re the first one to fucking cast a stone and say what a loser you were. They’re the ones that don’t ever take take the risk or take the chance of putting themselves on the line, where you’re subject to facing defeat. These people, these cowards who come out…suddenly know everything and they say ‘oh he wasn’t that good to begin with, and he was protected in Montreal, blah, blah, blah’…you know what? Let’s let the facts speak for themselves.
Fact number one, he was undefeated. Fact number two, he was making the tenth defense of a world title. We’re likely never to see that from a Canadian fighter again…God knows when the next time will be when [a Canadian] is in the tenth title defense of a world crown. Fact number three, Andre Ward didn’t want to fight him. Fact number four, Mikkel Kessler didn’t want to fight him. Fact number five, the betting favorites, the betting experts, the boxing experts who place bets and set the odds—people who are not involved in Montreal—they’re not fans at the Bell Centre, they’re professional businessmen who place odds on who’s supposed to win the fight…they had him as a heavy favorite. As a matter of fact, in the UK there were big posters in the betting shop that said ‘Froch by KO over Bute for 10 pounds, win 75 pounds.’ 10 pounds to win 75 pounds on a Froch knockout! They thought that that was a seven and a half to one long shot that that wasn’t going to happen…so it’s not just us. But now of course, all the critiques…it’s so easy after the fact. Nobody said this was going to be a blowout in 5 rounds. Nobody said that.”
Bute is most certainly not a fraud in my opinion. I’ve said, if he were such a fraud, we must have some damn good promoters up here to have a fraud fill up arenas over the last few years…
Russ Anber: “Is it Bute’s fault they didn’t put him in the Super Six? Is it Bute’s fault that he was relegated to having to fight the second tier leftovers in the super middleweight division because all the big names were tied up? All these guys were garnishing valuable experience and he had to fight other guys. How do we know that he wouldn’t have been better if he had knocked out [Arthur] Abraham? We don’t know. Or he could have been knocked out sooner…we don’t know that either. But he did what he could and everybody is so quick to criticize. He fought everybody they put in front of him. It might not have been the cream of the crop, but he conducted himself with a lot of class in doing so.
I’m just so pissed when people are so quick to jump up and say ‘oh man I told you he wasn’t good, I told you he was shit, I told you he never left the Bell Centre, oh he never did this, oh he never did that…’ People are so quick to point that out when someone fails. He trips one hurdle against Froch and suddenly a world championship and nine defenses suddenly goes out the window. When people say stuff like that it pisses me off. I bet you there isn’t anybody here, any trainer, any manager in the business, who wouldn’t have loved to have a fighter who wins a world title, who draws 16,000 people for a fight and has nine title defenses. They’d give their right nut to have that! They’d give both nuts to have that!”
Boxing Insider’s Hans Olson can be reached at [email protected] Follow @hansolson