Carl Froch and Lucian Bute are set to square off tomorrow in what could potentially be an early candidate for Fight of the Year. Froch and Bute have styles that appear to match up very well with one another, and I expect it to be a tough, grueling, physical fight.
Froch is a little bit less than a 2/1 underdog in this fight, which is perfectly reasonable. Bute is coming in undefeated, and is in the opinion of most the more skillful fighter of the two. However, I think Froch has a great chance to score the upset, and here's why.
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I don't think that there is anyone that will dispute that Bute is the slicker, faster boxer of the two. In fact, I think Bute is one of the slickest fighters in the last decade. He's difficult to hit and knows how to fight at range. If Bute is able to keep Froch at the distance he prefers, then Froch has almost no chance in this fight.
Froch has to get on the inside and clinch when he has to, in order to wear Bute down. Bute hasn't really had to ever fight a grind-it-out, physical fight with the exception of his first fight with Librado Andrade, but even in that bout Bute was winning easily until the last round.
Froch will get picked apart at distance, so he has to make a decision on whether or not he's willing to take the necessary punishment that it will take to get close to Bute. If he can fight through the Bute jab and get into Bute's chest, he'll have a great chance of victory.
Besides Miguel Cotto in his prime, there aren't many fighters in recent memory the go to the body like Lucian Bute is able to. Specifically, he uses a sneaky left uppercut to the solar plexus that is devastating if his opponents don't see it coming. Virtually all his knockouts have come via his left hand in the form of one shot blows, either to the body or the head.
Seeing as how explosive Bute is with his left, Froch must circle to his left throughout the fight in order to stay away and hopefully effectively neutralize Bute's powerful left hand. Froch must show discipline in order to do this throughout the fight, but I guarantee it'll be a main part of his strategy.
If Froch can stay out of range of Bute's left, he'll have a great shot at victory. If Bute can find a home for it consistently to either the body or the head, it'll be easy work for the Canadian/Romanian star.
Go to 2:40 of the video to see how devastating that left hand can be. Andrade is known as one of the most durable fighters in the sport, and it stopped him in his tracks. Froch must be very, very careful.
This one might seem like a no-brainer, but the big key for Froch is that he's fighting in front of a sold out arena of his home fans. They're going to be making tons of noise and going wild early on for him, and if he is able to win the first couple of rounds, that momentum and crowd noise will help him through what could be a very tough fight.
If Froch is outclassed in the first couple of rounds, the crowd will be deflated and all but taken out of it. Not to mention the large minority of Bute fans will take over the arena and cheer every time Bute lands anything, which will only further hurt Froch.
So, Froch must be sure to try and steal a couple of early rounds to keep the crowd energized. They don't call them "The Cobra's Army" for nothing, they certainly are a loud bunch and if they're into the fight, Froch will have a shot.
There's no doubt that Bute has the hand speed advantage in this fight. However, he also has a distinct advantage in foot speed as well. If Bute is allowed to move around at will throughout the fight, it will be really difficult for Froch to find a home for his power shots.
So, how does Froch combat this problem? He needs to go to the body, early and often. It's the only way to slow Bute down, and will be extremely important if Froch wants to have any chance to win this fight. Bute has shown that he can get tired late in fights as he did against Andrade in their first matchup, so Froch must take note of that.
If Froch can wear Bute down over the course of the first eight rounds or so, he can look to finish the fight late. And he won't be discouraged if he's down on the scorecards. Remember his dramatic come-from-behind 12th round KO over Jermain Taylor?
If Froch lands something big early on in the fight, the crowd will go absolutely wild. We've seen in the past that Froch isn't afraid to slug it out, but that would be a big mistake if he did it in this fight. Froch needs to stay smart and fight under control.
Many times when fighters challenged Bute to a slug fest, Bute obliged and usually scores a quick KO. Just ask Edison Miranda, who taunted Bute and invited him to play rock em' sock em' robots, only to be knocked silly a few seconds later. Bute is simply too powerful and accurate for Froch to have a pure brawl with.
In other words, he needs to use effective aggression in this fight, and maintain his cool and not oblige the crowd when they go bonkers if he lands a big shot. I have a feeling that Froch won't listen to my advice on this one, and I can already picture him throwing bombs at Bute and getting caught by something in return.
But that's what makes Froch so exciting, he's willing to take risks other fighters aren't willing to take. Either way, this should be a great, fan-friendly fight and I'm looking forward to it. Tune in at approximately 6pm EST.
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