Former super middleweight tilist Lucian Bute has suffered some recent career setbacks, but the Quebec-based star says he's fit and ready to go for Saturday night's HBO showdown with Jean Pascal, in what looks to be the biggest fight in Canadian boxing history.
Two years ago, Bute (31-1, 24 KO) was mauled and stopped in five rounds by Carl Froch, and a little over five months later, he returned with a somewhat shaky win over Denis Grachev, a good but limited fighter. That was November 2012, and it was the last time Bute fought.
Last year, he had bone fragments removed from his left hand. Now, the southpaw says he's feeling good.
"I feel good. I feel great. Saturday night will be a special night for me, a special fight. (The loss to Froch is) in the past. I feel great, 100 per cent with both hands. I'm staying focused for my fight, my strategy. There's nothing to stop me. Nothing! I'm very confident. I'm very strong. I'll be the winner."
It's sort of a matchup of unknowns between the two established veterans. Bute hasn't fought in 14 months and was looking a bit weary then, while Pascal (28-2-1, 17 KO) has fought just a pair of tune-up bouts since his May 2011 loss to Bernard Hopkins, beating Aleksy Kuziemski and suffering a shoulder injury in the process in December 2012, and returning to have his way with George Blades last September.
Is Pascal 100%? Is Bute 100%? How far off of their best are these two fighters? Is Bute still affected by the loss to Froch, and is Pascal ready to put the pressure on fast and test his resolve? It's a big fight between two popular fighters in Montreal, but how good are these guys here in 2014? That's what we're going to find out for at least one of them.