Lucian Bute realizes that he probably won't get the credit
Updated: March 25, 2011, 17:17
Send to a friend
NEW YORK (AP) Lucian Bute realizes that he probably won't get the credit he deserves until he faces the fighters involved in the Super Six World Boxing Classic.
Most of the best super middleweights are tied up with the round-robin tournament put on by Showtime, although the unbeaten Bute was not invited to participate. So he's been forced to fight some marginal opponents the past couple of years with the understanding that even an emphatic victory might not do much to build his fan base in the United States.
Not to worry, though. Bute couldn't be more popular in Canada.
The 31-year-old Romanian has become a star in his adopted home country, where he'll defend his IBF version of the title Saturday night against veteran Brian Magee.
This will be the 21st time that Bute has fought in Montreal, with a number of other fights taking place in nearby Quebec City. It makes sense, considering he sells out the arena just about every time he fights there.
"The following I have here in Montreal is very important," Bute said. "They've been there from the beginning of my career. I feel great when I have them in my corner, and they cheer my name and cheer me on. So I want to thank them for being so loyal for so many years."
Their loyalty comes despite opposition that hasn't always been the most difficult, from guys like Edison Miranda well past their prime, to fringe contenders like Alejandro Berrio and Fulgencio Zuniga who stood little chance against of pulling the upset.
However, it's not Bute's fault.
Andre Ward is considered the best fighter in the 168-pound division, but he's tied up with the Super Six. Carl Froch, Glen Johnson and Arthur Abraham are also tied up with the semifinals of the tournament, which is supposed to end later this year.
One potential opponent, Mikkel Kessler, was involved in the Super Six before an eye injured forced him to back out last August. The former WBC titleholder is expected to be on hand for Saturday night's fight and could step into the ring with Bute when he's healthy.
"I'm only concentrating on Saturday night, Brian Magee, a good performance and a win. I'll worry about Kessler and anybody else after I win this fight," Bute said. "The fact that Kessler is going to be ringside is not going to affect my performance at all."
It should provide a bit more motivation, if he needed any.
The 35-year-old Magee (34-3-1, 24 KOs) is confident that he can pull off a monumental upset. He points to his experience and not losing since getting knocked out by Froch - in a fight many believe he was winning - in the summer of 2006.
"Hopefully, I'll be the new world champion. There's no doubt about it, it's going to be a hard fight," Magee said. "I'll need to have the performance of my life but it's a good position to be in, fighting for the world title."
Magee also knows that he'll have very few people rooting for him, even though he claims everyone is an adopted Irishman this week. The fight will be taking place on Saturday night of the week of St. Patrick's Day, with an Irish parade scheduled for Sunday in Montreal.
"At the end of the day, there are only two fighters in the ring. I've been an away fighter all my life, so it doesn't make a difference," he said. "I'm just so used it now, you know? It's just the way things are."
How would he celebrate a win?
"A pint of Guinness, of course."
Updated March 18, 2011