Monday, January 9, 2012
Updated: January 10, 8:39 AM ET
Lucian Bute, Carl Froch negotiating
By Dan Rafael
After Andre Ward outpointed Carl Froch to unify super middleweight titles and win the Super Six World Boxing Classic on Dec. 17 in Atlantic City, N.J., he suggested that a good future bout for Froch would be a match with titleholder Lucian Bute, since it was unlikely that Ward himself would meet Bute next.
A few hours earlier, Bute and his promoter, Jean Bedard of InterBox, who were in town to watch the Ward-Froch final, held court with a handful of reporters and voiced their own interest in a potential Froch bout if they were unable to make a fight with Ward should he win the Super Six.
Now, less than a month later, Bute and Froch are negotiating a two-fight deal that would begin with a bout in the spring in Montreal, Bute's adopted hometown where he is a major star, and be followed by a rematch in Froch's hometown of Nottingham, England, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport, Froch's promoter, told ESPN.com on Monday.
Hearn said he was "having positive discussions with Jean and the team at InterBox" about the deal and that he was "very happy with the idea of working with them."
"We have penciled two dates -- April 14 for Montreal and Aug. 4 in Nottingham -- for the 'home and away' bouts," Hearn said. "Don't see why we can't get this boxed off in the next week or so."
Although Bedard did not respond to a request for comment, Hearn said there were still elements of the two-fight deal to work through such as what to do if the April fight was a one-sided decision or an early knockout, which would crush the marketability of an automatic rematch.
"At the end of the day, we need the second fight to be relevant and appealing," Hearn said. "I'm very sure it will be."
Bute (30-0, 24 KOs), a native of Romania living in Montreal, has made nine defenses of his 168-pound title and hoped to face the winner of the Super Six. However, Ward, who is nursing a fractured left hand he hurt against Froch, made it quite clear after he beat Froch that he was not overly interested in facing Bute next.
Ward said that Bute first needed to earn the fight by beating a top opponent.
Froch and Bute have had a bit of a simmering rivalry already, making it an intriguing fight even though Froch is coming off a clear loss to Ward.
"I think there is more of a story regarding Froch in Canada," Bedard said last month when he and Bute met with media before the Super Six final. "For our fans in Canada, Froch has been talking against Lucian for the past five years so it's a very easy fight to promote for us."
Froch (28-2, 20 KOs) went 3-2 in the Super Six tournament fighting one tough fight after another. Besides losing to Ward, he lost a highly competitive decision to Mikkel Kessler in an all-action fight. He also defeated Andre Dirrell, handing the 2004 Olympic bronze medalist, his first career defeat, Arthur Abraham and Glen Johnson.
It remains to be seen if Showtime would have interest in buying Bute-Froch, much less make a commitment to two bouts. It has one fight remaining on a three-fight deal with Bute and also has bankrolled Froch's last six fights.
"We are talking," Hearn said of conversations with Showtime. "They have expressed their desire to keep Carl and I don't envision any problems either side."
However, Showtime, which has Bute's next fight penciled in for April 14, would prefer to make a fight between him and light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs), who has said he would go to Montreal for the fight and would be willing to meet at a catch weight of 170 pounds.
Hopkins, who turns 47 on Sunday, is already a well-known figure in Montreal. He outpointed Jean Pascal, Montreal's other star fighter, there in a May rematch of a previous draw to become the oldest fighter in boxing history to win a world championship, breaking the record held by heavyweight great George Foreman.
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.