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19 March 2012, 16:29
Lucian Bute has been warned he will be entering a ``bear pit'' when he defends his IBF super-middleweight title against Carl Froch in the challenger's Nottingham hometown.
Froch will attempt to become a three-time world champion when he bids to bounce back from December's defeat against Andre Ward by snatching unbeaten Bute's title on May 26 at the Capital FM Arena.
The Nottingham fight will enjoy home advantage for the first time since 2009 following an incredible run of fights overseas spanning two and a half years, and nearly 3,000 tickets were sold within two hours of going on sale today.
Froch has praised Canada-based Romanian Bute for his willingness to defend his belt on away soil, but the Briton's promoter Eddie Hearn hopes the champion will be shocked by the reception he gets at Nottingham's 9,000-capacity Capital FM Arena.
Hearn told Press Association Sport: ``It's a tough one. Bute is untested, really. We'll find out against Froch how good he is. He's definitely better than what some people think but he's been hurt before, he's been knocked down before, knocked out before.
``Carl can whack, so if he comes to engage and fight - which I think he will - he's going to get hurt at times.
``Let's see how he responds to the pressure of fighting away from home and the pressure of fighting in front of 9,000 fans in what will be probably one of the best atmosphere's you could find anywhere.
``It will be a bear pit. Because it will be 9,000 fans versus probably 100, and that is a proper bear pit atmosphere.
``I admire Bute for taking it. He doesn't need to do it but he does if he wants to fight the best, which he obviously does.''
Froch insists there was never any chance of him taking an easier `warm-up` fight to ease himself back following his defeat by Ward in Atlantic City.
``There was talk of taking a steady fight after the seven top-level fights I've had on the spin against world-class, elite fighters,'' he said.
``But I don't really want to be mixing and involved with lower-level fighters so I said to Eddie: `Ideally, I want to be jumping back in there with top-level fighters'.
``You don't see Floyd Mayweather having 10 months off and taking a warm-up fight.''
Hearn's priority was always giving Froch a homecoming.
``Carl is a real hero in Nottingham and I think we owe it to the public, who have flown all over the world to follow him, to have this big event there,'' he said.
``We want to keep it as a fairytale homecoming. At the end of the day I think he'd sell out the MEN Arena and the O2 Arena but this fight means so much to his career that you want to give him absolutely every advantage you can. That, being 20 minutes from his home, is one of them.
``It's a fairytale story, trying to become a three-time world champion in your hometown. It doesn't happen very often, especially with fights as big as this.
``So we're delighted to make it happen.''
For tickets please use the Capital FM Arena link above.