Montreal boxer Lucian Bute felt the sting of "The Cobra" on Saturday night in Nottingham, England, stopped in five mostly one-sided rounds by hometown hero Carl Froch.
Froch (29-2, 21 knockouts) pinned Bute on the ropes early in the fifth and snapped the Canadian's head back until he was defenseless. Referee Earl Brown stopped the bout, with Bute led back to his corner completely dazed.
Bute (30-1, 24 KOs) loses his International Boxing Federation belt, which he first won in October 2007, and some bigger paydays that potentially loomed against the likes of Andre Ward and Bernard Hopkins.
"I spent too much time trying to trade punches with him" Bute said. "Even on the ropes I thought I could get out of it by surprising him with my left, but I wasn't able to."
Froch represented the best fighter Bute had ever faced, possessing wins over the likes of Arthur Abraham, Jermain Taylor and Laval native Jean Pascal.
Much was made of the fact this was first time in eight years Bute fought outside of Quebec or Romania, where he was born.
But the locale did not affect the 168-pound title fight. Bute's quickness against lesser foes belied some defensive sloppiness that Froch exposed.
Particularly, a tendency to keep his right hand low and his head stationary during exchanges. The southpaw Bute was dealing with a rapidly swelling left eye before the stoppage.
"I executed the plan to a tee," Froch said. "The plan in fact was just to listen to [Froch trainer] Rob McCracken. I listened to him during the fight, as I listened to him for the entire 12 weeks of training camp."
The 34-year-old Briton won a close first round, and took the second more decisively. Bute tried to counter Froch, and had some success, but the local fighter possesses one of the better chins in boxing.
The third round was likely a two-point margin for Froch. Even though Bute didn't suffer a knockdown, he was battered for most of the stanza as the partisan crowd at Nottingham Arena raised the decibel level.
Froch was finding particular success with uppercuts between Bute's gloves.
Bute appeared to winning his first round through two minutes of the fourth by using movement, but Froch landed some devastating punches in the last 20 seconds.
The 32-year-old was unable to change his tactics, and the inevitable conclusion occurred at 1:05 in the fifth.
Froch has now held a 168-pound title belt on three separate occasions.
The contract for Saturday's bout had a provision for a rematch in Quebec. While it would likely fill an arena, the comprehensive nature of the Froch win will give InterBox, Bute's promoters, much to ponder.With files from The Canadian Press