SPORTS

Canada's Bute wants underdog role as he defends IBF title on Froch's turf

05/11/2012 07:15 EDT | Updated 07/11/2012 05:12 EDT
MONTREAL - Lucian Bute wants the role of the underdog when he travels to England to defend his IBF super-middleweight title against Carl Froch.

Bute (30-0) is risking the belt he won in 2007 and has defended nine times by going to Froch's home town of Nottingham to face the brawling Englishman (28-2) before a hostile crowd.

The Romania native who became a Canadian citizen this year wants to show that he can beat a top contender away from the comforts of Montreal or Quebec City, the site of the vast majority of his bouts.

''In my head, I'm going to England to put my belt on the table, as if the title is vacant and that I have to win it to be world champion,'' the slick left-hander said Friday. ''There will be 10,00 people there cheering for him.

''There will be lots of noise. But I'm going there to win and come home with the belt. Whether it goes to points or ends before that. My goal is to win.''

Bute, trainer Stephan Larouche and the rest of his entourage were to fly to England on Friday night to begin adjusting to the time change and to make final preparations for the bout.

During training camp in Florida, Larouche would sometimes play recorded crowd noise from a Froch fight, with fans singing and chanting.

''Now I feel good, but over there, a week before the fight, the pressure will go up,'' said Bute. ''That's normal.

''The press conference, the weigh-in, everything. The adrenaline; the emotions. It's the first time for me to go outside, to his hometown. It's not easy psychologically; I'm ready for that. It's time to prove to everybody that I'm the best fighter. When you're a good fighter, you fight everybody, everywhere.''

Bute is coming off a 12-round decision in November over veteran Glen Johnson, while Froch is on the rebound from losing a one-sided decision to Andre Ward in the final of Showtime's Super-Six series in December. Bute wasn't invited to fight in the Super Six, even though he is considered one of the world's best 168-pound fighters.

Larouche knows that winning on the opponent's turf is always tough, even with a neutral referee and a trio of judges that includes a Canadian, a Briton and an American.

He deliberately upset the normal routine of training, surprising his fighter with sparring sessions at odd hours and locations, to get him to expect the unexpected.

''It was less comfortable, more destabilizing than ever,'' said Larouche. ''He's confident. He really wants it. He's happy to be going there. Training is a pleasure for him. He likes to suffer. That's a sign of a great champion.''

A setback came last Saturday when Bute, working in new shoes, developed a blister on each foot. One healed right away, but the other got infected and needed treatment with antibiotics. He was cleared by a doctor to resume training on Thursday.

''Now I feel great,'' he said.

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