Former 168-pound champion Lucian Bute and his new trainer, Howard Grant, have an adversarial history.
It began with Bute’s controversial win over Librado Andrade in October 2008 and continued in their November 2009 rematch when Bute stopped Andrade in the fourth round.
Bute's initial triumph came after he benefitted from a seemingly long 10 count that allowed him to avoid being counted out after a 12-round knockdown.
Grant was Andrade’s cornerman for both of those title fights.
“What happened in the first fight left me bitter with the outcome,” Grant said. “It was difficult being in the corner for the second fight and seeing Lucian at events [afterward]."
Time has apparently healed those wounds for Grant, who will be in Bute’s corner Saturday night at the Bell Centre in Montreal when the Romanian-born southpaw ends a 19-month ring absence against Italy’s Andrea Di Luisa (17-2, 13 KOs) in a fight airing on NBC Sports Network (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
“Being in Librado’s corner for those two fights, Howard knows me very well and I know him. We've had good compatibility and chemistry from the first training session,” said Bute, who now lives and trains in Montreal.
“I’m learning and he's teaching me new things every day. I can still make 168 easily, and I think I have good potential to be a champion one more time.”
Bute (31-2, 24 KOs) trains at Grant Brothers Boxing in Montreal with Howard and his brother, former 160-pound champion Otis Grant.
“Lucian’s become a part of us in the last four months. As a person, he's a fantastic guy and a gentleman—a lot like my brother and Librado. I’m very surprised how sharp he was in training when we first started with him,” Howard Grant said.
“Lucian's weight is good, his heart is good and his mind is in the right place. When I do the pad work for six, seven rounds with this guy, he’s a machine. Lucian still listens, has all of the skills and attributes and all of the tools and the desire to get back to the top of the ladder.”
After earning a 168-pound world title by beating Alejandro Berrio in October 2007 and then defending it nine times, Bute has lost two of his past three fights.
He was stopped in five rounds by Carl Froch in May 2012, and lost a 12-round unanimous decision to Jean Pascal in January 2014, which was the last time Bute stepped into the ring.
After losing to Pascal, Bute left longtime trainer Stéphan Larouche and briefly worked with Freddie Roach before turning to Howard Grant.
“Lucian was a bit tentative in the Pascal fight, but in the last round, he opened up a bit and showed he still has it in him. We’ve been pushing him to let his hands go and to let the punches flow, and I’ve been seeing that old, dominant side of him in the gym,” Grant said.
“Lucian's a nice guy, but when it comes to the fights, he’s got to let it all hang out. Looking at some of his old fights, he had this mean streak. He still has that dog in him 100 percent, but we’ve got to get him mad and turn that beast loose so he’s going to bite you.”
For complete coverage of Bute vs Di Luisa, visit our fight page.