Because he wants to prove that he's more than just a protected hometown fighter, super middleweight titlist Lucian Bute is leaving the comforts of Quebec to defend his title in Nottingham, England, hometown of former titlist Carl Froch.
It's a gutsy move that Bute didn't have to make because he's a major star in his adopted hometown of Montreal and throughout Quebec, and he packs in sellout crowds in Montreal and Quebec City.
But Bute agreed to go on the road and is leaving no stone unturned in his preparation for the May 26 fight (Epix and EpixHD.com). When Bute spars at his West Palm Beach, Fla., training camp, his people try to simulate the approximate sound of what it will be like inside what undoubtedly will be a raucous Capital FM Arena.
The sound system is cranked up, playing tapes of chanting and horns so that when Froch's wild fans begin doing their thing, Bute (30-0, 24 KOs) will feel no different than any other day in the gym.
"While training, we recreate the atmosphere of what we expect to hear at the Capital FM Arena of Nottingham," Bute said this week at his media day in West Palm Beach. "I can't hear the bell and I can't even hear my coach talking to me. On May 26, I will be ready to face not only Carl Froch but also the hostile atmosphere of Froch's fans."
When the fight with Froch (28-2, 20 KOs) came up, each side hoped to bring it to their fighter's hometown. Eventually, Bute embraced the idea of going overseas. As good as he has been in his nine title defenses, he has fought every one of them either in Montreal, Quebec City or his native Romania.
He figured the time was right to go on the road and show what he was really made of.
"By saying yes to fight Carl Froch in his hometown, I'm showing the world that I can fight anybody anywhere," said Bute, who has been in camp for seven weeks already. "I expect a tough fight. I'm working harder at the gym to be ready physically and mentally. I'm really looking forward to defending my title for the 10th time. It's going to be an amazing experience."
Stephan Larouche, Bute's trainer, said the team has changed its mentality for the fight with Froch, compared to other bouts, because they are going into the lion's den.
"We fully expect Lucian to experience some discomfort on May 26. Fighting in England will be difficult for him,"
Larouche said. "Winning in Europe as the opposing boxer almost never happens. We recognize we have a huge challenge in front of us, but we do have a huge advantage: We are the champion.
"This training camp is much like every other. However, the psychological preparation is different. We started this camp as if we were the challenger. Lucian will have to play the spoiler. Most of the fans in attendance will be against him. Nobody there other than a few fans will want him to win. This is the first time that Lucian will live this experience. Lucian will have to work harder than he does for his fights in Quebec, and if he does, at the end of the evening, he will be the hero of the crowd."