We might not see Lucian Bute face Glen Johnson on November 5 after all. With Kelly Pavlik out of the running and a catchweight fight with Tavoris Cloud ruled out, veteran Johnson appeared to be the leading candidate to face Bute on Showtime in Montreal. But Johnson and his promoters say that Bute's team has sent them a low-ball offer for a fight, and they believe that they're trying to avoid the 42-year-old known as "The Road Warrior."
Here's what Johnson said:
"Bute is my friend and helluva a nice guy, but I believe that they're low-balling me very badly, mainly because they don't want the fight to happen. So, a way to get out is to try to low-ball where they think we won't accept it, instead of saying 'we don't want to fight Glen Johnson.' I've been around long enough to know when somebody's serious about an offer and I believe the fighter himself wants to compete but the promoter is afraid of stepping him up a level. They want to keep him safe. They don't have the confidence in him they should have. He's a good fighter. He should have a great fight and maybe he wins and maybe he loses, but he's ready for that fight."
Johnson's co-promoters, Leon Margules and Lou DiBella, echoed the statement, with DiBella calling the offer "unacceptable," and Margules saying, "Glen got the better of him in sparring and they're spooked."
If Bute doesn't fight Glen Johnson on November 5, then the options are pretty limited as far as super middleweights who could possibly make for an intriguing battle. Bute, whose talent and style are both well-respected, has taken criticism for not stepping up his competition to a consistently world class level. It's a criticism which might be lessened were it not for the fact that so many other top super middleweights have been taking hard fight after hard fight in the Super Six World Boxing Classic. (Of course, the existence of the Super Six has made world class opposition hard for Bute to find even if he wanted to.)
Peter Quillin has already turned down the idea, as he's focusing on a run at middleweight. Pavlik is out. Mikkel Kessler will be fighting Robert Stieglitz at some point, so neither of those guys are options. Thomas Oosthuizen is fighting on September 3 against Aaron Pryor Jr on the Zaveck vs Berto card. Arthur Abraham is ice cold and headed back to 160 on November 5 in Germany.
So who can Lucian Bute look to fight if Glen Johnson isn't the opponent? Andre Dirrell is not going to step right back into a big fight like that, despite his readiness to return to the ring. Andre's brother Anthony could be an option, I guess, but he isn't near being a true contender. That goes for pretty much anyone else out there -- guys like Edwin Rodriguez, Jesus Gonzales, Dyah Davis, and so on. James DeGale is fighting Piotr Wilczewski for the European title. George Groves isn't going to take that big a step up.
There's really just nobody at 168 right now to fight that Bute will get much credit for. The only other top ten sort of guy who might be available is Sakio Bika, and Bute beat him back in 2007.