Former super middleweight titleholder Lucian Bute, with a rematch on tap against Carl Froch in March, will first face Denis Grachev.
Bute and Grachev will meet Nov. 3 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, where the Romanian-born, Montreal-based Bute is a major star, Jean Bedard of InterBox, Bute's promoter, announced on Thursday. The fight is contracted at a maximum of 170 pounds, two more than the super middleweight limit.
Bute traveled to Froch's hometown of Nottingham, England, and lost his title via a fifth-round knockout in a mild upset on May 26. Bute had the contractual right to an immediate rematch in Montreal, but Bedard and Froch promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport worked out a deal under which Bute and Froch agreed to take interim bouts in the fall before meeting in a rematch in Montreal in early 2013.
"I am very happy that this fight is signed," Bute said. "I can't wait to see my fans again and to fight in front of them at the Montreal Bell Centre. This fight will be the first step of my goal to re-conquer the IBF super middleweight belt."
Bute, 32, had made nine title defenses, but all of them were in front of friendly crowds -- eight in Quebec and one in Romania. Stung by criticism that he would not go on the road, Bute accepted the challenge of Froch in England.
Grachev (12-0-1, 8 KOs), 29, who is from Russia but based in San Diego, made a name for himself in April when he knocked out red-hot light heavyweight contender Ismayl Sillakh in the eighth round in the main event of ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights."
"After several talks with Lucian and head trainer Stephan Larouche, we established a complete list of Lucian's needs and evaluated each opponent in function with such list," Bedard said. "We stopped looking once we got to Denis Grachev and got the fight signed. Three of his last four opponents were undefeated, and he KO'd two of them. Grachev is the best available boxer that Lucian can fight."
Said Larouche: "We chose Grachev for his abilities in the ring. I am convinced that his punching power and inside brawler style will be a good test for Lucian."
Froch (29-2, 21 KOs), a three-time super middleweight titlist and the Super Six World Boxing Classic runner-up, will have his interim fight in November in England. His opponent has not been selected yet.