In a battle between two of the top super middleweights in the world, Carl Froch thrilled his raucous hometown fans with a dominant fifth-round TKO victory over previously undefeated Lucian Bute in an exhilirating, career-best performance.
The bout, broadcast live in the U.S. on Epix and streamed live on EpixHD.com from an energized Capital FM Arena in Nottingham, UK, matched the runner-up of the Showtime Super Six Tournament, Froch, against the most glaring omission from that field, Bute, in Froch’s first contest in front of a friendly crowd in five fights.
He gave them a spectacular performance that exceeded all expectations.
After two close early rounds in which both men were sporadically successful, the fight exploded in the third round, when Bute awoke a sleeping giant in Froch by landing a couple of strong left hands. Froch retaliated with abandon and hurt Bute with a thudding combination, which spawned a prolonged beatdown of Bute by Froch which lasted the remainder of the fight. Froch repeatedly landed flush right hands in the midst of awkward combinations and continually pressed his helpless opponent to the ropes, unleashing a rapid-fire assault from which Bute never recovered.
The onslaught by Froch continued in the fourth. Although both fighters scored with hard punches in the first half of the round, with Bute showing heart in recovering from the immense damage he’d accrued, Froch badly hurt Bute once again with a crushing right against the ropes late in the round. Bute looked precariously close to being stopped as Froch raced the clock, throwing punches with reckless abandon, but Bute managed to survive to hear the bell. As it turned out, he merely prolonged the inevitable.
Froch continued his blitzkrieg in the fifth round and Bute had no answers. A powerful right hand crushed Bute less than a minute into the round and Froch’s follow-up attack crumpled the helpless Bute against the ropes, where referee Earl Brown called a knockdown. In the boisterous atmosphere it initially appeared he was calling the fight (as it did when he stepped in to stop Froch’s assault at the end of the fourth round), but he gave Bute a count, ruling that the ropes had held Bute up. Bute’s corner entered the ring and mercifully waved the fight off on behalf of their badly beaten fighter and Brown dutifully stopped the contest.
With the victory, Froch (29-2, 21 KO) cements his status as one of the best super middleweights in the world. His resume since 2008 ranks among the strongest in the sport and he has taken one difficult challenge after another, emerging victorious far more often than not. He is not the most technically skilled fighter but his awkward style, granite chin, inexhaustible endurance, and relentless will make him world class, among the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport.
Despite notching excellent wins in recent years, this performance stands out as the very best of Froch’s career. He took a highly-regarded, unbeaten, prime super middleweight who was the favorite coming into the fight and absoultely obliterated him over five rounds. He shook off a number of powerful punches from Bute and overwhelmed him with unrelenting punishment. A rematch with division kingpin Andre Ward, whose victory in the Super Six final over Froch looks exponentially more impressive today (and it was already the best win on Ward’s resume) is possible for Froch, as is a rematch with the only other fighter to defeat him, Mikkel Kessler.
Given the tremendous atmosphere for this fight, Froch may no longer have to travel to entice such high-profile fighters into the ring.
Bute (30-1, 24 KO), on the other hand, will need to rehabilitate after such a devastating loss. He has a rematch clause against Froch should he choose to exercise it, but to do so would be unwise. Bute would be best served retreating to Canada, licking his wounds, and restoring his confidence against second-tier fighters before stepping back up in class for a bout with fighter of Froch’s class.
In the opening bout of the telecast, Pier-Oliver Cote improved to 19-0 with 13 KOs with a technical knockout of Mark Lloyd (15-6, 3 KO) in a 140-pound contest. Cote controlled the fight throughout but amped up his attack significantly in the fifth round, scoring an early knockdown with a right uppercut and a second later in the round with a hard left hook, eventually forcing a referee stoppage with 15 second remaining in the round. In an interview with Chris Mannix after the fight, Cote mentioned Gavin Rees and Paul McCloskey as potential future opponents. A matchup with either fighter would represent a step up in class for Cote.
Unfortunately, the Cote-Lloyd bout was shown on tape delay; however, after the contest the broadcast joined the Carl Frampton-Raul Hirales super bantamweight bout live in progress in the ninth round with the undefeated Frampton in complete control of the fun, mostly one-sided action. Hirales was game and landed some clean shots but Frampton was too aggressive, too accurate, and too strong to be overcome. Frampton worked both the head and body well in the rounds that were televised, grinding Hirales down with digging hooks and thudding head shots. Hirales (16-1-1, 8 KO) was clearly hurt several times but hung on to the final bell, as Frampton took a wide unanimous decision (120-108, 119-109, 119-109) to improve to 14-0 with 9 kOs.