MONTREAL - The knock against Lucian Bute since he became International Boxing Federation super-middleweight champion in 2007 is that, as the old fight saying goes, "he ain't never fought nobody."

That is likely to change if, as expected, he gets by Irish slugger Brian Magee on Saturday night at the Bell Centre.

Bute (27-0, 22 knockouts), of Montreal, will be the heavy favourite when he makes his seventh defence of the title against European champion and fellow left-hander Magee (34-3-1, 24 KOs). Both made the 168-pound weight limit Friday, with Bute at 167.6 and Magee 167.7.

Good opponents have been in short supply the past two years as the U.S. premium channel Showtime staged its Super Six tournament featuring top super-middleweights like American Andre Ward, German Arthur Abraham and Briton Carl Froch.

Bute has bided his time posting wins against a faded Edison Miranda or unheralded fighters like Jesse Brinkley and Librado Andrade.

Bute was inexplicably left out of the Super Six, although he has since signed his own multi-fight deal with Showtime and is pencilled in to take on the eventual winner either late this year or in early 2012.

Ward is set to face Abraham in one semifinal May 14, with Froch facing Glen Johnson in the other May 21.

With former world champ Mikkel Kessler recovering from an eye injury and American star Kelly Pavlik just getting back from alcohol rehab, the list of potential opponents was not a long one, said New York-based agent and matchmaker Don Majeski.

"This was the highest guy we could get," said Majeski. "He's British and European champion.

"He's the best fighter available. But that will change after this. Maybe we'll get Kessler or Pavlik. Certainly one of the losers of the Super Six. And then fight the winner at the turn of the year."

Majeski said US$750,000 was offered to WBO champ Robert Stieglitz, a Russian fighting out of Germany, and $400,000 to Kazakh-born German Dimirti Sartison, but both turned the money down and elected to fight one another on April 9.

Kessler is to watch the Bute-Magee fight from ringside.

There was also interest in pitting Kessler against 38-year-old Renan St. Juste of Repentigny, Que., who was forced out of the co-feature against Colombian Alejandro Berrio with laryngitis.

The new co-feature has Pier-Olivier Cote (14-0, 9 KOs) against Mexican veteran Michael Lozada (37-7-1, 30 KOs). Should he win, the Quebec City light welterweight will fight against an as-yet unannounced opponent on the undercard of one of the biggest bouts of the year -- Manny Pacquiao against Shane Mosley on May 7 in Las Vegas.

"We think (Cote) has special talent," said Carl Moretti of U.S. promoter Top Rank, which has an agreement with Cote's Montreal promoter InterBox.

A Top Rank fighter, American light middleweight Vanes Martirosyan (28-0, 17 KOs) will be in an eight-round tune-up against Bladimir Hernandez (18-4, 16 KOs) of Mexico.

A crowd of about 12,000 is expected to watch the favoured Bute take on the fifth-ranked Magee. Bute's camp has warned repeatedly against taking the 35-year-old Irishman lightly.

Magee went into Danish champ Mads Larsen's hometown 14 months ago and won the European belt.

"He comes to fight and he'll be in your face, trying to close the gap and keep the pressure on," said Bute's trainer Stephane Larouche. "It'll be a better fight than a lot of people think. Two southpaws make good exchanges."

Bute has only fought twice against lefties, none since 2007.

"He's going to make a really aggressive fight," Majeski said of Magee. "He's not a guy who will just come in and take punches.

"He not an over-the-hill guy, a retread. He could get knocked out but he won't be slam dunked. If he gets knocked out it's because he forced the fight and took it to Bute."

The Magee camp takes heart in the one bump on Bute's record, when he was flattened late in the 12th round by the relentless Andrade, but winning the decision only because he got up before the bell after what some feel was a long count by referee Marlon Wright.

They feel if he can hang in against Bute's speed, power and unpredictable attacks, he may wear him down.

"It's going to be a hard fight," said Magee. "I'll have to have the performance of my life but that's what I'm ready for."