For the first time since 2005, IBF super middleweight champion Lucian Bute will box in his native Romania as the Montreal resident faces the challenge of his number one contender Jean Paul Mendy in an all-southpaw clash tonight at Romexpo in Bucharest, Romania.
Bute is back in the ring less than four months since his last action, a tenth round TKO of ex-IBO titlist of Brian Magee, in which the IBF champion was given a harder than expected fight before cracking the ambitions of Magee with spearing body shots.
"Le Tombeur", 28-0 (23), will be putting his crown at risk for the seventh occasion since winning the title in 2007 and Mendy represents the least experienced foe Bute has faced in a very long time.
While the 29-0-1 (16) record of Mendy appears to be impressive, a look at the opponents on his resume tells a different story.
The 37 year old Parisian mounted four defenses of the French super middle title between 2002-2005 before campaigning in the US from 2005-2008.
During his American excursions, Mendy posted wins over prospects Dallas Vargas and Henry Buchanan before drawing with Anthony Hanshaw for the IBO belt but then outpointing veteran Jason Naugler in 2008 for the vacant IBF International strap.
After that it was back to France against obscure competition until an opportunity came up to face Sakio Bika, the only world class opponent Mendy has ever faced, in an IBF title eliminator in Las Vegas, NV a year ago.
In the first round, Bika floored Mendy almost immediately and was then disqualified for knocking out the Frenchman when Mendy was down. Thus Mendy was catapulted into his first world title fight.
The 31 year old Bute hasn't exactly been put in with the best competition since winning the title four years ago and had difficult bouts against Bika and the first of two encounters with Librado Andrade, not to mention the recent Magee bout.
But Bute has had a few good stoppage wins including the second Andrade contest and clashes with Edison Miranda and Fulgencio Zuniga.
That should continue against Mendy as the challenger is likely to be seriously outclassed by the far more seasoned champion.
However, Bute is fighting in his homeland for the first time as a world champion and that could result in a loss of focus, giving Mendy
a potential advantage.
The undercard features a WBC International featherweight title contest between southpaw champion Jun Talape, 20-7-1 (8), and Viorel Simion, 13-0 (5).