By Robert Coster
For many Lucian Bute is the missing piece in the 168 lbs division Super-Six Tournament. In fact, some boxing writers speak of the talented IBF champion as “the Super Seventh.” However the Romanian-born Bute, hugely popular in his home base of Quebec, would not have accepted to be part of the Showtime tournament for two reasons: he has been signed to be part of the HBO After Dark series and, most of all, he wanted to settle scores with challenger Librado Andrade. Bute showed the world (last November 28th in Montreal) how both skilled and lethal he can be by dispatching the tough Andrade in just four rounds. Lucian Bute (25-0, 20 KOs), one of today’s most exciting young champions, opens up to Fightnews.
Lucian, you looked very impressive in your win over Andrade. What did you do in the second fight that you did not do in the first bout?
For one thing, I worked extra hours on a strategic punch, a left hook (the same punch Lennox Lewis used against Hasim Rahman). I was also stronger, maybe bigger this time. My physical coach did a great job on me.
You were nearly stopped in the first fight. Some consider you were protected by the referee. Do you feel you deserved your victory in that first encounter?
Absolutely, I was tired, not knocked out. A guy who is knocked out does not get up and beat the count like I did. I won 10 out of 12 rounds of that fight. And, I don’t want to discredit Andrade but I was sick in that fight and it wasn’t the real Lucian Bute. Everybody saw the real Lucian Bute on November 28th. I think I erased all doubts about the end of the first fight.
You are tremendously popular in Quebec even though you are Romanian. Why do you think the Quebec fans have adopted you so readily?
To be adopted as an immigrant you have to work at it. I am lucky to work with a great team. I learned French; I am involved in the community. I am President of the Interbox Foundation who helps children with disabilities. I am also learning English right now.
How did you start in boxing in Romania?
At first, I was not really interested but then, at 14, a friend took me to a boxing gym. I fell in love with the sport and never stopped loving it ever since.
You had a stellar amateur career in Europe. Many amateur stars in the bigger weights head towards Germany. In your case, why did you choose Canada and Quebec?
My present coach Stephen Larouche coached Leonard Dorin. I was impressed by his skills. Interbox invited me to be the sparring partner of Eric Lucas who preparing to fight Markus Beyer. I made my debut here in Montreal and I have never regretted the choice I made.
WBC light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal twice beat your fellow Romanian Adrian Diaconu. Pascal is also tremendously popular in Montreal and represents rival team GYM. Would you be willing to step up and fight him? It seems to be a natural match-up for Montreal.
I am ready to fight anyone. Yes, if I have the possibility to fight Jean Pascal, I will do it. It would be amazing for the fans in Quebec and beyond.
You certainly have been following the Showtime Super Six Tournament. Aren’t you sorry not to be in the fray? Who do you think will win it?
My objective at the time was to beat Librado Andrade. It was a question of honor. Therefore I wasn’t available at the time. Also, the rematch with Andrade was on HBO After Dark, my first appearance on this major TV network. It was a great opportunity to showcase my talent. As for the second question, I pick Andre Ward to win the tournament.
And would you fight the winner, whoever he is?
I certainly would like to fight the winner, when the time comes.
Will American fans ever see you fight in the United States or are you going to stick to your home base of Quebec?
I will fight in the USA if I have to, no problem. This said, I have a good fan base in Quebec, Interbox can organize major fights for me here and HBO can cross the border to broadcast my fights. One thing is sure: I have to fight in the US to improve my career.
Champ, your wishes for 2010?
To defend my belt versus good opponents–defend it successfully, of course–and to improve my reputation in the United States.