Carl Froch left no doubt. Forget the worries of potential dodgy scoring, or Froch's age or lack of hand speed being a problem. Lucian Bute couldn't even get out of the starting blocks today in Nottingham, as a fearless, reckless, determined, and downright overpowering Froch blasted out the previously unbeaten Romanian-Canadian in the fifth round, administering a beating beforehand, to gain a major super middleweight title for the third time.
Froch (29-2, 21 KO) won the first two rounds and stung Bute (30-1, 24 KO) a couple of times, but it was the third round that sealed Bute's fate. As Froch made a mad charge at the defending titlist, Bute seemed to call him on. This turned out to be a terrible idea, as Froch opened up the proverbial can of whoop-ass on Bute, battering him for the remainder of the frame and sending him back to his corner on unsteady legs.
In the fourth, Bute did better, getting his legs back and getting himself back into the fight, but then toward the end of the round, Froch slammed him again, sending him back to his corner with no idea where he was.
In the fifth, it came to a head. Froch came right at Bute and finished the job, wobbling Bute against the ropes. Referee Earl Brown jumped in, seemingly to stop the fight, but instead started to administer a count. Bute's corner entered the ring to save the fighter anyway, as the Froch side had prematurely celebrated. Truthfully, the only argument is that Brown shouldn't have counted. Bute was gone.
It was an awe-inspiring performance from Froch, who looked better than ever. He was supercharged by fighting in front of his home fans in Nottingham, and though Bute had a good pocket of supporters, too, Froch's fans were up to the task of getting their man in a true fighting spirit.
In fact, I can't remember the last time I saw a fighter so clearly determined to knock someone out. It was all Froch had on his mind. He was a destroyer tonight.
For Bute, obviously, this is a massive setback. All the criticisms have been validated. For my part, I'll say this: Yes, he was exposed in this fight. I think "exposed" is an overused word, but can be used correctly, and this was it. Bute is still a top five super middleweight right now, but was clearly a class below Froch. It wasn't even a slight debate in there. Froch was his superior.
In short, Lucian Bute is a good fighter. And Carl Froch beat the hell out of a good fighter at the Capital FM Arena, to prove once again he is among the true elite in the world at 168 pounds, and with Andre Ward established as No. 1, Froch is now clearly established as No. 2 -- and one of the best "number twos" in the entire sport.
Bute handled the loss with class and dignity, cheering for Froch during the announcement. He's never been less than a gentleman, and he showed himself to be one again after suffering what was frankly a pretty humiliating defeat. Bute can come back from this, but the box has been opened now, and there's no closing the lid. Future opponents might very well be coming straight at him, and if this loss mentally beats Bute down, he's going to have a tough go of it in the future.
As for where the fighters go next, Bute has a contractual rematch clause. Chances are he'll take it. It's a lot of money, and it's stipulated that it will be in Montreal. He's got nothing to lose now with that fight. But it is worth wondering if he'll want another slice of what Carl Froch laid on him tonight.
All congratulations to Carl Froch for a blistering performance this evening. He's done it again. "The Cobra" has done it again.