Considering that it was practically impossible for Carl Froch's first IBF super-middleweight title defence to garner anywhere near the interest of the planned rematch with Lucian Bute, Yusaf Mack is actually as good a choice of opponent as anyone.
Let's face it: from the minute it became clear Bute's mandatory return challenge for the strap he lost to the awesome Froch in May could come one fight later for both men, Cobra Carl's home-town defence was never going to be against someone who would put that highly-anticipated Montreal battle in severe jeopardy.
And with your typical boxing fan's hobby du jour being to give the announcement of apparent mis-matches a ruddy good rollocking (and rightly so, in most cases), the whole exercise risked coming across as a hiding to nothing for Matchroom.
When one thing has no hopes of living up to another, there's no point even trying. And in following Le Tombeur's route of taking on a light-heavyweight in the form of American Mack, not only does the November 17 showdown preserve Froch's 'never back down from a challenge' persona but it adds an intriguing new dimension to what threatened to be nothing more than a reason for the Notts faithful to make some noise for their champ.
Bute is in action in his own terra firma of Montreal a fortnight beforehand against Denis Grachev of Russia. Far from seeking an easy rebound from that jarring feeling of a first defeat (and emphatically so), the 32-year-old realises he needs to come back even bigger, badder and stronger so as not to let his home town fans down if Froch-Bute II comes to fruition.
It's like Rocky Balboa and Clubber Lang all over again…
In all seriousness, the blossoming professional rivalry between Froch and Bute is offering a contemporary example of what 'B-level' fights were — and should be — all about: if the opponent selected really only has an outside chance, at least make sure there's something for the favourite to gain from it going forward outside of an extra payday.
Froch and Bute in November will step into the ring with fighters guaranteed to hit hard and draw a rugged contest out of their super-middle foes. They're not just killing time until next spring or keeping up appearances with their faithful crowds — they're entering endurance training for what will hopefully turn out to be one of the finest rematches of the modern era.
And without getting ahead of ourselves, there's the potential for one of the best matches, period, and a rivalry which will live long in the memory.
The Pugilist was reluctant to dive in on the Ricky Hatton return saga when reports first broke that this really could happen. But then the ripples of negativity soon cascaded from the masses.
At first glance, it's easy to want to mock the potential return of The Hitman. Hatton had a tremendous run built on an aura of indestructibility and merciless offense. When he came unstuck against Floyd Mayweather, he wasn't the same out there — the Manny Pacquiao mauling being a shining example of this.
Hatton has made all the right moves post-retirement, but the actions of others may force him back to the ring.
Against a fighter in Pacman who cerebrally outboxes most of his opponents before coasting later on, Hatton didn't see the third round. His time as a top fighter was done.
Most comebacks are driven by either ego or cash, but there appears to be another motive to Hatton's considerations.
Post-retirement, the former two-weight world champion turned to training and promoting — and at a time where much of the sport is all glamour and controversy with very little for the sporting purist to sink their teeth into, the Stockport lad was quietly delivering the goods with a promising turnover of talent and strong cards for Sky, the channel he made a lot of money with from inside the squared circle.
That was until Sky rather abruptly dropped Hatton Promotions, rather laughably citing a mission statement of 'quality over quantity' as their reasoning for this.
The rest of the sport won't dismiss Hatton's mind for the game quite as nonchalantly, but his fledgling firm lost a major ally just like that.
And Hatton knows another fight or two could be just the thing to draw short-term and allow long-term plans to continue unabated.
Whether he actually dons the gloves again or not is unclear for now. But TP, for one, does not get that sinking feeling of an ill-advised last grab for glory in this case that so many sporting comebacks come drenched in.
- Sports & Recreation
- Lucian Bute
- Carl Froch