Montreal-based Romanian Lucian Bute took time out of his busy fight-week training schedule to answer a few questions from SHOWTIME. The 29-year-old undefeated Bute risks his International Boxing Federation (IBF) super middleweight crown against hard-hitting Fulgencio Zuniga on ShoBox: The New Generation on Friday, March 13 (live on SHOWTIME at 11 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast) at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
Bute is making his third defense of the 168-pound title he won with an 11th-round TKO over Alejandro Berrio on Oct. 19, 2007, in Montreal, where the defending champion’s last 11 fights have taken place.
Last Oct. 24 in Montreal on ShoBox, Bute dominated the initial 11-plus rounds against Librado Andrade but fell apart late and was brutally knocked down in the final seconds. Visibly shaken and hurt, Bute barely made it to his feet, but he beat the referee’s “10-count” to retain his belt on a lopsided decision.
SHOWTIME: How important is Friday night’s fight to you and the people of Montreal?
LUCIAN BUTE: “Montreal has become my second native land. I came here to fight my pro debut and just fell in love with the people and the culture. We’re going to keep bringing the major, major championship fights to Montreal because I know the main thing that we are doing here is selling out and that is something not too many promoters can do in other places. This is a tough time for many with the economy where it’s at but boxing still remains an important part of everyday life in Montreal.
“I like being on SHOWTIME and I like being on TV. That’s the way you build up to the big fights. You have to make your name in America. To make the big money you have to be involved in the big fights and SHOWTIME and ShoBox are giving me that opportunity now.”
SHOWTIME: Do you feel like fighting in Montreal gives you a clear-cut advantage in your fights?
LUCIAN BUTE: “When you are fighting at home there are some slight advantages but once that bells sounds there is no one that can help you but yourself. Sure, the arena is packed and they are screaming your name but no one can help you. You are all by yourself and you have to perform. Between the ropes there is no more advantage.”
SHOWTIME: What do you think about Fulgencio Zuniga?
LUCIAN BUTE: “I’ve been watching Zuniga’s fights on tape, especially his last three fights. Of course, I saw his fight against Denis Inkin (for the WBO super middleweight title in which Zuniga lost in a controversial 12-round decision). It was a really, really close fight and I even thought Zuniga won the fight. But the fight was in Germany. I do think that if that fight was in America that Zuniga would have been declared the champion.
“I also have watched his fight three years ago against David Lopez, who like me is a southpaw. (Lopez) was beating him until the final round when Zuniga knocked him out. That just shows me how much heart Zuniga has. He will never quit in a fight, especially a title fight. I also saw his fight against Victor Oganov. I feel like I’ve got the speed on my side. I’ve got the boxing ability and I will make sure we will keep fighting on my level. At my level, speed kills.”
SHOWTIME: Can you compare Zuniga to your last opponent Librado Andrade?
“They are a little similar. I would say that Andrade is a busier fighter and physically a little bit stronger. In fact, probably quite a bit stronger. But on the second punch Zuniga is probably quite a bit stronger. He has more power on every single punch than Andrade does.”
SHOWTIME: Many call your win over Andrade controversial because of what happened at the end of the fight. What are your thoughts about the way the fight ended?
LUCIAN BUTE: “I think it was not a mistake on my part. I just got so tired in that last round. A 126-pounder could have knocked me out I was so tired. I learned from that experience. When I went down there were four seconds left in the fight so all I needed to do was stand up. There were eight seconds when I got to one leg. Whether the ref told Andrade to go back to his corner or not, it’s irrelevant because with just four seconds left in the fight I knew he couldn’t hit me anymore. So I think the referee did the right thing.”
SHOWTIME: Would you like to fight Andrade again?
LUCIAN BUTE: “Absolutely. It’s a must. We have to fight again. Hopefully he will win his mandatory fight aginst Vitali Tsypko (on April 4, also from Bell Centre) and he will be my next opponent for the fall. We need to settle this. I need to do this and he also deserves it.”
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Nick Charles and Steve Farhood will call the ShoBox action on Friday night. The executive producer of ShoBox is Gordon Hall with Richard Gaughan producing and Rick Phillips directing. For more information on SHOWTIME Sports, including exclusive behind-the-scenes video and photo galleries, complete telecast information and more, please go to the new SHOWTIME Sports website at http://sports.sho.com.