NEWS
03/01/2012 02:27 EST | Updated 05/01/2012 05:12 EDT

Canada's Bute to defend IBF super-middleweight title against Froch in England

MONTREAL - Canada's Lucian Bute will make a rare foray into hostile territory when he travels to Carl Froch's hometown to defend his International Boxing Federation super-middleweight title.

Promoters on both sides of the Atlantic announced Thursday that Bute (30-0) will face Froch (28-2) in Nottingham, England, on May 26.

The bout should put to rest criticism Bute has faced over being a protected boxer who never fights on unfriendly ground. Other than three bouts in the United States early in his career, all Bute's fights have either been in Montreal, Quebec City or in his native Romania.

''It's my goal to fight the best boxers in the super middleweight division,'' Bute said in a statement. ''Carl Froch belongs in the elite of the division and it will be a great fight.

''I am very confident and it will not faze me fighting in enemy territory. Supporters of Carl Froch will live their greatest disappointment. The IBF belt will fly round trip Montreal-Nottingham and back.''

Bute will make the 10th defence of the IBF belt he won in 2007 from Alejandro Berrio.

Froch should be the toughest test yet for 32-year-old Bute, who has scrambled for opponents in recent years because he was not involved in the Super Six, a tournament featuring most of the world's top super-middleweights organized by the U.S. specialty channel Showtime.

The 34-year-old Froch reached the Super Six final, losing by unanimous decision to American Andre Ward in December.

Promoter Jean Bedard of InterBox said Showtime was not interested in televising the bout but that Bute's multi-fight contract with the channel is still valid.

It will be televised on Sky TV in Britain and on pay-per-view in Canada, although Bedard hopes a U.S. broadcaster will want to take on the bout between two of the world's best in the 168-pound division.

Bedard said both fighters ''put water in their wine'' to make the fight happen. Without revealing the purse, Bedard said Bute would make less than half of what he would make on a Showtime card.

He is also the one putting a title at risk.

''Lucian wanted to fight the best and (Froch) was the only one willing to fight him,'' Bedard said on a conference call. ''Lucian accepted a lot less, but it's part of our strategy.''

''We'll get rid of two (criticisms) about Lucian — that he's never fought anybody and that he's never fought away from home. That's why this is important for him.''

It will be Froch's first bout in Nottingham, where he draws large, boisterous crowds, since winning a split decision over American Andre Dirrell there in 2009.

It was also the site of his close, 12-round win over Montreal's Jean Pascal in 2008 for the then-vacant WBC title. After that loss, Pascal won a world title at light-heavyweight before losing it to veteran Bernard Hopkins last May.

Since then, Froch lost in Denmark to Mikkel Kessler, beat Arthur Abraham in Finland and split bouts with Glen Johnson and Ward in Atlantic City. He has held and lost the WBC title twice.

''It's a dream come true to get this opportunity to become a three-time world champion in my hometown of Nottingham,'' said Froch, known as The Cobra. ''The Super Six was an incredible journey for me, but I missed fighting in the UK and it was important that (Promoter) Eddie (Hearn) and I made that happen.

''For it to be for a world title is the icing on the cake. I'm ready to go to war all over again."

Contrasting styles will be in play as the slick southpaw Bute pits his tricky, multi-angled style and vicious uppercut against the brawling, hard-hitting Froch.

But the key for Bute will be to show that he can win in hostile territory.

He was supposed to fight the winner of the Super Six, but Ward said the Montreal fighter needed first to earn that right by beating an A-level opponent.

''I have to respect Lucian and his team for agreeing to enter the lion’s den and face Carl in his hometown of Nottingham, but am fully confident that Carl can become a world champion again on this epic night,'' said Hearn.

Bute was to return from camp in Florida on Friday. He and Froch are expected to hold a news conference in Montreal later this month. Bedard said he would travel to England two weeks before the bout to adjust to the time zone change.