LONDON - England’s Carl Froch stopped defending champion Lucian Bute of Romania in the fifth round to take the IBF super-middleweight title in Nottingham early Sunday. The 34-year-old Froch was coming off a rare defeat to Andre Ward and went into the fight against the undefeated, Canadian-based Bute as the underdog.

But he took command from the opening bell to take possession of IBF belt to go with the WBC belt he held twice in the past. The win brought Froch’s career record to 29 wins against two defeats. For Bute it was a first defeat in 31 fights Fighting in his home town, Froch opened positively and was the aggressor througout the first round despite receiving a warning for hitting on the break after the follow-up exchange.

Bute landed a strong southpaw left in the second as Froch staked him behind his jab and it was the Englishman who again ended the round on top, rocking Bute with a big right hand. The Romanian landed a good jab as the third round got underway, but Froch responded immediately and hurt his man with a succession of ferocious shots.

Bute was on wobbly legs and clinging on desperately with Froch marching forward in a bid to finish the contest early. Bute landed two counter lefts and survived the round but Froch was primed to move in for the kill. Both men traded shots in the fourth as Froch hammered home a powerful right and followed it up with a flurry. But Bute, to his credit, planted his feet and fired back gamely.

Froch jumped in with a right which had Bute in peril once again and another looked like forcing the end. Bute, however, was saved by the bell as Froch landed a fierce left hook at the end of the round. Bute looked unsteady when the fifth round got under way and a right hand rocked his head back.

After several unanswered shots, another big hit from Froch forced Bute down with only the ropes holding him up.

Referee Earl Brown began a count, but when Bute’s corner entered the ring to spare their man further punishment, Froch had the belt won. Froch said he believed the emphatic win made up for the defeat at the hands of Ward. “After the Andre Ward defeat I was very deflated. I was here tonight to put right a wrong,” he said. “I came here more determined than I’ve ever been before. I’ve been guilty of switching off in the past but tonight I’ve been very focused.”