Lucian Bute was once 30-0 and considered the best 168-pound world champion not named Andre Ward or Carl Froch until being derailed by a devastating fifth-round knockout from the latter in May 2012.
Bute then fought twice at 175 pounds, winning a unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Denis Grachev in November 2012 before losing a decision to Canadian countryman Jean Pascal in January 2014 in a clash of former titleholders.
Now the Romanian-born southpaw will end a 19-month layoff when he returns to the ring August 15 against Italian contender Andrea Di Luisa at the Bell Centre in Montreal. The 171-pound bout will air live on NBC Sports Network at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
After such a long period of inactivity, which was extended by a back injury suffered during training late last year, Bute (31-2, 24 KOs) is excited about getting back in action.
“I’m ready and looking forward to being back in the ring,” said Bute, who has a new trainer in Howard Grant. “I have not lost my passion. I train six days a week, twice a day.”
Bute, 35, became a world champion when he gained an 11th-round technical knockout of Alejandro Berrio in Montreal in October 2007. He then defended his title nine times before losing to Froch.
Di Luisa (17-2, 13 KOs) will be making his North American debut after fighting exclusively in Italy since his professional debut in October 2008.
Di Luisa, 33, has won four straight fights, the last two by stoppage, since losing to Christopher Rebrasse in November 2012.
"I'm very happy about this opportunity," Di Luisa said. "I know Bute because I fought him in the amateurs. He is very good and I respect him, but I don't fear him."
Also scheduled for the NBCSN broadcast is a clash between unbeaten 175-pound contenders: Eleider Alvarez (17-0, 10 KOs), a 2008 Colombian Olympian who fights out of Montreal, faces Paraguayan native Isidro Ranoni Prieto (24-0-3, 20 KOs), who will be fighting outside of South America for the first time.