If the terms aren't right for a home-and-home pair of fights against Lucian Bute, Carl Froch has other options, says promoter Eddie Hearn. A big one, reports Terence Dooley, would be a WBO eliminator fight in April or May in Nottingham, potentially setting up a rematch with Mikkel Kessler should Kessler win the WBO super middleweight title from Robert Stieglitz on April 14.
"It has to be right for us," reiterated Hearn when speaking to BoxingScene.com about the [Bute] discussions. "The fans like the fight. We won’t do anything silly. We’ll take it if the money’s right and there’s a return here in Britain. I am also looking at other opportunities for Carl to fight at the end of April or May at the Nottingham Arena in some kind of elimination match and then the rematch with Mikkel Kessler at the end of the summer should Mikkel win the WBO title from (WBO titlist) Robert Stieglitz in April.
Froch (28-2, 20 KO) is coming off of a one-sided loss to Andre Ward in December, but it seems like his stocked was raised anyway if only because of the classy manner in which he handled his defeat, congratulating Ward and making no excuses for losing the bout to the better man on that evening.
The fights with Bute were being discussed immediately following the Ward loss, though Ward vs Bute is the fight everyone really wants to see at 168 pounds. It's pretty clear that neither Ward nor Bute are really chasing that fight, turning it into sort of a minor league version of Pacquiao vs Mayweather (not in terms of talent, just money and overall public interest).
But my gut feeling here is that Bute vs Froch is also not going to happen. It seems like it should, but the complications of making it a two-fight deal are a bit odd and could really throw a wrench into the gears. One common worry is that if the first fight, which would be staged in Montreal, weren't competitive, why would you force a rematch that few would really want to see? It's a legitimate and valid concern.
Bute is reportedly due back in the ring in April. He also has just one date left on the Showtime deal he signed back in late 2010, which was for three fights. It's possible he could take a fight that Showtime does not pick up; they passed on his July mandatory title defense in Romania against Jean Paul Mendy, and could opt to not air something similar. But it does not look like they'll be getting the fight with Ward in this deal unless they're willing to wait a good while. As much as they tried to set that fight up by keeping the two closely scheduled so that the timing would work, it just doesn't appear likely to happen any time soon, perhaps not even by the end of 2012.
Froch is in a good position where he can do this pair of fights, which would be interesting, or he can do something like Hearn is suggesting. Or, he can take a simple homecoming tune-up fight in Nottingham, where he hasn't fought since October 2009, going off and becoming a bigger star and more legitimate fighter in that time away from the United Kingdom.