bute-connors

Lucian Bute yuks it up with tennis legend Jimmy Connors at the Rogers Cup in Montreal on Monday. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

Lucian Bute's trainer said Thursday that the Montreal boxer's date at Bell Centre in early November will defiinitely take place, with an opponent likely to be officially announced in days.

"Lucian will be fighting Nov. 5, nothing has changed," St├ęphane Larouche told CBCSports.ca.

Bute's team had targeted two opponents for their final bout of 2011, but both fell through for different reasons. Danish puncher Mikkel Kessler opted to take another fight, while last week Kelly Pavlik cancelled a Bute tune-up bout against Darryl Cunningham, essentially taking himself out of the running.

The Youngstown, Ohio, fighter has been beset by squabbles with his promoter, Top Rank, and problems outside of the ring.

"Lucian was very upset [about Pavlik] because it was a credible opponent and a good name, but unfortunately we have no control over this," said Larouche.

Bute (29-0, 24 knockouts) is coming off a fourth round KO win in July in his birthplace, Romania, over International Boxing Federation mandatory challenger Jean-Paul Mendy of France.

Larouche said Bute has just come back and will begin getting back into shape next week before heading inside the ropes for sparring in a few weeks.

With Showtime in the U.S. televising Bute's next 168-pound title defence, it is believed that they would want to work with Bute's promoter, InterBox, on finding a replacement opponent who is as well known to the audience as those two fighters.

That would likely put former light heavyweight champion Glen Johnson at the top of the list.

The Jamaican-born Miami native is well known and has sparred with Bute in the past, possessing wins over the likes of Antonio Tarver and Roy Jones Jr.

On the downside, he is also nearly 43 years old and a loser in three of his last five bouts. He is coming off a decision loss to Briton Carl Froch in June, but Larouche sees that as an opportunity.

"Can Lucian do better than [Froch]? Can Lucian stop him? That could be interesting," he said.

The last time the iron-chinned Johnson was stopped was in a 160-pound title against Bernard Hopkins way back in 1997, and he's never been knocked out.

Heralded as one of boxing's most exciting fighters, the head trainer said Bute still has room for improvement.

"He hasn't stopped a guy with a straight left like he did with Mendy for a little while, his body punches are getting better and better. I think we're going to have to still improve the right hook, it's not his best weapon yet.

"I've always said, a southpaw with a good hook is a dangerous southpaw."

Bute has lost very few rounds in his last six fights, all stoppage wins, but has still had to contend with swelling around his right eye on occasion.

Larouche dismissed it as the result of fighting better opposition than earlier in his career.

Should Johnson get the call, it wouldn't be the first Canadian opponent for the man they dub "The Road Warrior." Johnson (51-5-2, 35 KOs) lost by decision to Syd Vanderpool of Kitchener, Ont., in 2000 but three years later began the late career renaissance that ultimately led him to the 175-pound title.

Meanwhile, Froch and unbeaten Oakland, Calif., native Andre Ward are set to battle in the final of Showtime's Super Six tournament in October.

The winner is expected to meet Bute, should he emerge from the November test unscathed, sometime in 2012.

Larouche cedes control over those types of decisions to InterBox and Showtime, but said he would love to forego a prolonged buildup and have that superfight take place by March.