While six of the top super middleweights duke it out in Showtime's Super Six World Boxing Classic, titleholder Lucian Bute is off doing his own thing -- and doing it well.
Bute is clearly the best 168-pounder in the world not involved in the Super Six, which boasts titleholders Andre Ward and Carl Froch along with Andre Dirrell, Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham and alternate Allan Green (who replaced Jermain Taylor). However, Bute, who had previously appeared on Showtime, was not invited to join the tournament party, so HBO scooped him up.
Before middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik defends his belts against junior middleweight titlist Sergio Martinez in the HBO "World Championship Boxing" main event at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., on Saturday night (10 ET), the split-site telecast will open in Montreal, where the Bell Centre crowd will be roaring for the popular Bute when he makes his fifth defense against powerful Edison Miranda of Colombia.
"I am taking Miranda very seriously," Bute said. "I have a lot of respect for him. He's courageous and I know he comes to win. He demolished many good fighters and is a notorious puncher. I will have to keep my concentration level on high, show my speed, footwork and ability to stay champion."
Bute (25-0, 20 KOs) made his HBO debut in his last fight in November and scored a dominant fourth-round knockout of battle-tested contender Librado Andrade in their rematch.
Stephan Larouche, Bute's trainer, said his man is well-prepared to fight Miranda and is looking at the bout as another opportunity to impress the HBO brass.
"We had a training camp very similar to the one we did for the second Andrade fight," Larouche said. "Why change a winning formula? Of course, we had different sparring this time, custom-made for beating Edison Miranda. We relied primarily on two world-class athletes in [former title challenger] Randy Griffin and former IBF champion Alejandro Berrio [whom Bute knocked out for the title in 2007]. If I had to describe the camp we had in one word, it would be 'amazing.' Lucian is a training machine.
"But we were not only preparing for Miranda. We were preparing for HBO. We need to follow up on the outstanding first impression Lucian made with HBO fans last November with another dominating performance. I have never seen a more motivated and physically strong boxer in all my life, and I have trained five world champions."
A native of Romania, Bute is beloved in his adopted hometown of Montreal, and he hopes to impress again against Miranda.
"My preparation for Andrade was exceptional and this time it was even better," said Bute, who could eventually face Pavlik if they both win. "I haven't reached my peak in boxing, but after every fight I feel I am a better boxer."
Miranda's greatest strength is his power, something that InterBox's Jean Bedard, Bute's promoter, is a little wary of, perhaps because of the way Bute went down in the life-and-death 12th round of his first fight with Andrade.
"Power is a shortcut to win," Bedard said. "Miranda can put out the lights with any punch. One week after his fight with Librado Andrade, Lucian was back in the gym. He's taking Edison Miranda seriously and he'll do everything he has to do to stay world champion for a long time. Lucian is an ambitious fighter. He wants to be a Hall of Famer."
Miranda (33-4, 29 KOs) -- who has vast experience in a win against Green and losses to Ward, Abraham and Pavlik -- typically trash talks endlessly before fights. But before his fight with Bute, Miranda has been unusually quiet and respectful.
"I saw the first fight between Bute and Andrade," Miranda said. "[Bute] won my heart. Bute deserves a lot of blessing. I come to fight. I come to win. I have nothing against Bute. I will prepare myself. I may not win, but I guarantee you will all be very happy [fans]. I have a lot of respect to InterBox and Bute.
"In the 12th round of Bute-Andrade [the first fight], Bute was hurt and Andrade hit him and he still got up. I said he is a real champion. He fights with his heart, like me."
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.