Carl Froch has intestinal fortitude, Lucian Bute will rise to the occasion – Sugar Ray Leonard

23 May

Alan Dawson – London

Carl Froch‘s most impressive performance was his come-from-behind 12th round technical knockout victory over former lineal middleweight champion Jermain Taylor in 2009, according to ring legend Sugar Ray Leonard, who has lauded The Cobra’s self confidence and gladiatorial spirit. Froch hopes to land his third super middleweight world championship on Saturday, May 26 but Leonard believes he will have his hands full with IBF title-holder Lucian Bute.

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Two boxers who don’t shy away from the fight make for an ‘exciting’ match-up, says Sugar Ray. Credit: Interbox

“Well, it’s a very intriguing match-up,” commented Leonard, who was once described as a mini Muhammad Ali by their mutual trainer Angelo Dundee. A consensus top twenty all-time great, Leonard, a 56-year-old American, amassed a 36-3-1, 25ko record with spectacular triumphs over Wilfred Benitez, Thomas Hearns, Roberto Duran and Marvin Hagler.

The former champion of five weight divisions will be providing commentary on Froch (28-2-0, 20ko) and Bute’s Capital FM Arena battle to an American broadcaster this weekend and has spoken out over what he thinks will be the key aspects of combat: “You have Carl Froch, who [is confident]. I mean, that’s what it takes first and foremost. You have to believe in yourself, believe in your ability.

“I’ve seen Carl fight a number of times [and] I think one of the most impressive fights was when he fought Jermain Taylor. You know if my memory serves me correctly Carl came back and knocked him out. And I was very impressed with that because that showed intestinal fortitude. You can’t teach that. That is within. A lot of fighters tell you what they’re going to do, this and that; and that’s just the art of verbal confrontation. But when you prove it like Carl has in the past, you know what? This fight should be pretty exciting.”

Bute and trainer Stephen Larouche have prepared for the Nottingham crowd. Credit: Interbox

Bute (30-0-0, 24ko) is one of the greatest draws in boxing today as he regularly attracts big crowds in his adopted fighting home of Montreal, Canada. Against Froch, however, he attempts to make a tenth successful defence of his IBF championship in the 168lb division by defeating his opponent in their own back yard.

In an effort to deal with the raucous support Froch will enjoy, Bute and his coaching staff have recreated a hostile environment during their training camp, playing jeers through speakers whilst even mimicking the ringside buoyancy of Froch’s noticeable girlfriend Rachel Cordingley, a popular lingerie model.

Leonard commented: “I didn’t realise that he fought the majority of his fights in Canada. It could be culture shock. It could be something he’s not used to. But for some reason I think he will rise to the occasion.”

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