NOTTINGHAM, England - Nottingham, England, may well be Carl Froch's hometown but Canadian world boxing champion Lucian Bute had more than his fair share of support at Friday's weigh-in for their title bout.
About 400 people attended the weigh-in, including about 100 Bute supporters who were in full voice for the Montrealer ahead of Saturday night's tilt for the IBF super-middleweight belt.
They showed up early, allowing them to claim the prime real estate in front of the stage where the scale was located. They were loud — so loud, in fact, that Froch felt compelled to encourage his supporters to compete on an even footing with Bute's.
"Bute! Bute! Bute!" they chanted in a festive manner.
Most had travelled from Bute's native Romania and saw the two boxers trade some good-natured barbs ahead of the fight.
Bute, 32, addressed the presence of his loyal fan base but remained humble in light of the support.
"My fans came here to encourage me and I’ll give it all I have on Saturday to make them happy," he said.
"However, no Romanians, Quebecers or Englishmen will be able to climb into the ring. It'll be between me and Froch."
It remains to be seen whether Bute’s supporters will be as influential once the bell rings. Approximately 500 of them will be in the stands, as opposed to the more than 9,000 Froch fans who plan on attending.
Froch, 34, will take inspiration from his supporters and believes they can make a significant difference in the fight.
"They'll be important for me but for Lucian as well," he said.
"He isn't used to fighting on hostile ground. I faced Mikkel Kessler in Denmark, so I know how it feels in those moments."
Bute will be defending his title for the 10th time but has never done so in front of a hostile crowd. Froch, fighting in his hometown for the first time in five outings, has never lost on English soil in more than 20 fights.
Both fighters respected the weight limit on Friday.
The boxers' weights were announced in "stone", pounds and ounces, proof the event was indeed taking place in England. Thus, Bute (30-0-0, 24 KO's) had a weight of 11 stone, 13 pounds and two ounces (167 pounds, two ounces) while Froch (28-2-0, 20 KO's) tipped the scales at 11 stone, 13 pounds and five ounces (167 pounds, five ounces).
During the traditional face-to-face staredown that followed, Bute and Froch exchanged a few words. The Brit started the debate by saying a few words in a firm but not overly aggressive way, while Bute played it cool and smiled.
"I don't quite remember what the exact words were," Froch said.
"But whatever is said between two boxers should remain between them. There's no animosity between us. We respect each other. It's going to be an amazing fight between two professionals without arrogance."
"It's the biggest fight of my life," said Froch, who lost to Andre Ward in the finale of the Super Six tournament, his last fight.
"If I box the way I’m capable of boxing, it’ll allow me to go back to being a first-rate fighter on the world scene."