Showtime Networks Inc. announced Friday that undefeated IBF Super Middleweight World Champion Lucian Bute, one of the most talented pound-for-pound and popular fighters of this era, has signed a multi-fight agreement with the premium television network. The announcement was made by Ken Hershman, Executive Vice President and General Manager of SHOWTIME Sports®, and Jean Bedard, Bute’s promoter and President of InterBox, at a press conference in Las Vegas. All the principals involved spoke with members of the international boxing media on a conference call on the eve of Saturday night’s WBO featherweight world championship between Juan Manuel Lopez and Rafael Marquez and the Super Six World Boxing Classic battle between Allan Green and Glen Johnson LIVE on SHOWTIME (10 p.m. ET/PT). Bute’s first fight in the new deal will be scheduled for the first quarter of 2011 against an opponent to be announced.
The following are quote highlights from the call.
“We’ve been obviously very active in the super middleweight division with our Super Six World Boxing Classic Tournament. The one missing link that has evaded us has been Lucian Bute and we’re happy to fill that hole now with him. We have a plethora of opponent options for him. We will continue to deliver on our message and our promise to our subscribers to put on the biggest and best events in boxing on SHOWTIME.
“Lucian is a tremendous talent. He’s undefeated and he sells out Montreal with his eyes closed. He’s got one of the most dynamic fan bases and ring entrances in all of boxing. He’s the real deal and we can’t wait to get him on SHOWTIME come the first quarter of next year.”
On criticism of not include Bute in the Super Six originally:
“I’ve addressed this issue in the past. In my view when we had to go about creating it and structuring it to get five promoters and six fighters on the same page. To me, the way to do it was with the existing relationships that we had. It wasn’t to say that I didn’t think InterBox or Jean Bedard or Lucian were trustworthy. I did. It’s just that I didn’t have the depth of the relationship I do with some of the others. We had to make some tough decisions and we made them. In terms of regrets, I think no and that everything happened for a reason. When we put the Super Six together I thought we had some really good fighters and some really intriguing matchups and it’s all been really fascinating. And now we have the opportunity with Lucian to take him and put him in with the winner of the Super Six for what would be the greatest fight in super middleweight history. We’re just really looking forward and not back.
“We think having Lucian around the same time as we’re doing the Super Six will really drive home his awareness and his popularity and tie him into the Super Six properly so that when we do get to the end we will have built the biggest fight of all-time in this division.
“It’s a multi-fight agreement that’s going to take us into 2012.
“One of the things we asked Lucian and Jean Bedard was: are there any fighters that are not on your list. And they told us what we love to hear at SHOWTIME and that was no. With that being said, whoever comes out of the Super Six will have accomplished an amazing feat. I can’t imagine they would not want to wrap that up and be part of this unification with Lucian Bute. That would be the crowning achievement for them. I think that fight gets made in late 2011 or early 2012 and it will be the biggest fight in super middleweight history.”
“I’m very happy to be here today. This is a very big opportunity for me. Thank you to Ken Hershman for giving me the opportunity to fight on SHOWTIME. This gives me the opportunity to prove that I belong with the best super middleweights in the world. All the best fighters in the division are linked to SHOWTIME right now so that gives me the opportunity to fight against the best in the world. And being on SHOWTIME will give me that platform.
“My first goal in boxing was to become a world champion in boxing. I want to always be prepared and I want to win every round. I don’t want to give any opening or give anyone a chance. It was my dream to become a world champion and now that I am I am still thinking about working hard and I still think about winning every round and being dominant.”
How big would a fight be with Jean Pascal in Canada?
“I have a lot of respect for Jean. He was still an amateur when I came to Montreal after turning pro. He’s a good fighter. Hopefully the fight will happen in the near future, but with the new contract I have signed with SHOWTIME it will just help everyone to get well-known and the fight will be that much bigger. I know Quebec fight fans are waiting for it, but by waiting the fight will just keep getting bigger and bigger all the time.
“This new contract will help me get to the next level and be known all around the world. It was a plan we had three years ago to be well known in America and to be on a major network. I’ve been known a little bit in the States and now I have to go to the next level.”
“We are very excited to join SHOWTIME for the next 12 or 18 months. The plan for Lucian was to be recognized as the best super middleweight in the world and SHOWTIME will give us this opportunity. I would like to thank Ken Hershman and all the staff at SHOWTIME for making this day happen and we look forward to some spectacular events in the future.
“The reason why we want to work with SHOWTIME is because of our objective is to be recognized as the world’s best super middleweight. And all the best boxers that we are dreaming to fight are with SHOWTIME. We will now have more resources to bring big fights to Montreal. That’s why we are happy today.
“The plan is not to have (Lucian) fight exclusively in Montreal. The plan would be to go to New York to fight maybe the winner of the Super Six because he won’t come to Montreal and Lucian won’t come to Denmark or Germany or California. So in the plan there will be a fight outside of Canada and probably in New York.
“Our plan right now is to stay at 168 pounds and fight all these guys. Then we will make another decision to maybe go up to 175 if there is a challenge there for him.
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