When super middleweight Lucian Bute squared off against Denis Grachev in Montreal's Bell Centre on Saturday night, boxing fans expected the legendary fighter to bounce back from his devastating loss to Carl Froch from earlier in 2012.
What they saw was a unanimous decision win from Bute that left more questions than answers.
The judges in attendance scored the fight 118-110, 116-112, and 115-113 in favor of Bute, but the pure domination that the Canadian fighter possessed earlier in his career wasn’t there.
Since his loss to Froch, Bute hasn’t looked like the same man in the ring.
Bute is still the star fighter that holds an astonishing 31-1 record with 24 knockouts, but the unexpected loss to Froch in May obviously shook the star’s confidence.
With another win against the tough Grachev under his belt, the time for a rematch with Froch is now.
When Bute’s perfect record was destroyed by Froch’s TKO victory, the inevitable rematch was all the boxing fans could talk about. Instead of capitalizing on the hype, though, both sides felt it would be smarter to accept different fights first.
If Froch beats Yusaf Mack later this November, the possible 2013 meeting for the IBF super-middleweight title that Froch now holds will be next. That bout could either be the rematch of the century or further proof that Bute wasn’t as great as he was made out to be.
Not only did Bute’s decision victory on Saturday create question marks about his actual talent against real competition, the fact that he can only win in his home country of Canada is a legitimate concern.
With Froch beating Bute in England and the majority of the Canadian’s wins coming on his own soil, where this eventual rematch will take place will become a point of contention.
No matter where this ends up happening—a neutral location like Las Vegas would be the smartest plan—Bute will be fighting for the legitimacy of his career; not just a title.