Lucian Bute and his promoters at Interbox may not be "scrambling" to find a replacement for Kelly Pavlik in November, but they're certainly trying to work quickly to lock down the super middleweight titlist's next fight.
One interested party is 42-year-old Glen Johnson, who in his last fight was knocked out of the Super Six by Carl Froch. His manager tells Steve Kim that Johnson would be relatively easy to procure for the matchup:
Ok, just spoke to Glen Johnson, he's willing to face Bute "in his backyard" on Nov 5th and his manager, Henry Foster says they don't even need what Pavlik was to receive($1.3 million) to make this a reality.
Another name brought up, but not offered anything, is Peter Quillin, but Quillin is now set on fighting at middleweight instead of super middleweight, and is moving forward in that direction. He tells Netboxe/BoxingScene.com that he's not interested in the fight. The same article mentions middleweight titlist Dmitry Pirog and comebacking Andre Dirrell as other potential opponents.
If I had to wager a guess, Glen Johnson will probably get this fight. He's easy to deal with, always willing to travel, always in shape, and generally puts on a good show. With the styles of the two fighters, you're likely to get a good fight, and Johnson has more credibility than he knows what to do with, coming off of a loss or not.
After thinking about a Bute vs Johnson fight for a few minutes (really digging into the ol' brain for this one), I had two thoughts, the second of which overpowered the first:
- I've mentioned a few times recently that while Johnson is still a legitimate fighter and solid contender at 168, he does seem to struggle with top fighters these days. Chad Dawson made it look easy in their rematch, Tavoris Cloud won a competitive but in my opinion clear decision last year, and Carl Froch did the same as Cloud. All different fighters, but all deservedly beat Johnson, whose best win in the last five years is either Yusaf Mack or Allan Green. In other words, not the cream of the crop.
- THAT SAID, styles do still make fights, and Lucian Bute's one glaring weakness to me is that he hates fighting inside, and isn't very good at it. Bute loves range, but Johnson brings pressure, is a smart fighter, covers up well defensively, and has only been stopped once in an 18-year pro career, and that was by a peak powers Bernard Hopkins in 1997. Johnson could have the style that despite his age and the fact that he hasn't beaten a fighter on Bute's level in a long time, could make him a very live underdog.
So I like the idea a lot. It's a style matchup that could give Bute a lot of problems, or he could prepare for exactly that type of fight and get a good win, further developing his game and showing a new side. Either way I think you have an interesting fight on your hands.