After snaring British, Commonwealth and WBA/WBO Intercontinental belts plus world rankings with all four major sanctioning bodies at super-flyweight, white hot Ellesmere Port prospect Paul Butler storms the 118lb bantamweight division this weekend. It’s a gamble that he believes will culminate in a world title shot.
On the big ‘Thoroughbreds’ promotion at Aintree Racecourse on Saturday night, the 25 year old ‘Baby Faced Assassin’, 14-0 (7), squares up to quality Argentine Oreste Bernebe Nieva in what could prove a dry run to a huge domestic showdown with Darlington’s IBF bantam boss Stuey Hall later in the year.
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Yesterday morning Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren, who has managed and promoted the ‘Assassin’ throughout his entire pro career, spoke with boxing writer Glynn Evans about his association with Butler and how he intends navigating those final crucial steps that could lead to The Holy Grail.
“I’d seen a bit of footage of Paul as an amateur and was immediately impressed with what I saw. His dad was heavily involved with the Vauxhall Motors amateur club for which Paul boxed and he seemed a good bloke. I had a gut feeling that young Butler was a kid that I wanted to be involved with.
His fitness levels were clearly very good and he was very aggressive. He was like a little Ricky Hatton but with better discipline. Paul’s actually a very good all round sportsman; particularly in snooker and football. To excel in those, shows that he’s got both mental and physical attributes. And he’s got bags of perseverance and determination. It took him five times before he finally passed his driving test!
I’d been very impressed with Paul’s repertoire of punches, especially his body punching, during his apprenticeship but I really became convinced he had the tools to succeed at world level after we brought over a real tough opponent from Chile (Miguel Gonzalez) who was unbeaten in 17 and came to win. Paul showed a lot of patience and composure to win very convincingly over 12 rounds. That night, he showed an excellent boxing brain.
When we’ve stepped him up recently against top quality Latin opposition, Paul has proved that he’s got good stamina, can pace himself, and has good technical boxing ability. But really good fighters have a certain in built, inbred viciousness and Paul likes to hurt opponent’s with every shot he throws, rather than accumulating points. He’s not a crippling hitter with one shot but in work rate and determination, he matches Hatton in every department. He’s not a boozer and he lives the life. I wish Hatton had had his discipline.
At the very lightest weights it’s far harder for British fighters to get to world level. In some divisions, you can be the best in Europe yet not in the top 30 in the world. They’ve got to be extra, extra special because all the competition is over in Latin America and south-east Asia. The fighters from those regions come from seriously hungry backgrounds where there’s no welfare state and they have to win just to eat and survive.
One hindrance is that the (super-fly) division that Butler’s been operating in, doesn’t have a great tradition and isn’t the most marketable. That’s partly why he’s moving up to bantamweight. We’re keeping all other options open but it’s no secret that I’d love to match him with Stuart Hall for the IBF World Bantamweight title sometime this summer and I hope that Dennis Hobson (Hall’s promoter) is receptive to that.
I think Hall against Butler is a fight the fans would really love and I believe we could get it across to the general sporting public, not just boxing diehards. Both fighters have a good story. Stuey is the lost soul who’s rediscovered himself, whereas Butler’s the mild mannered ‘Baby Faced Assassin’ with a real spiteful streak between the ropes.
Stuey Hall is the champion and we have to respect that. I’d love to build the fight in the north-west – Butler’s a phenomenal ticket seller, a far bigger draw than Ricky (Hatton) was at a similar stage of their careers – but if we have to go over to the north-east that’s what we’ll do. It’ll be a great, great fight and it doesn’t have to be the end of the world for the loser.
I know I bang on about securing home advantage but the very best fighters win wherever they fight and it’s quite possible Paul will hit even harder up at bantam. Being forced to trim down over a period of time can gradually take something off a fighter’s punches.
It’s conceivable that, over the next 12-18 months as he gets stronger and more experienced, Paul might even move up to super-bantam and get himself into the mix with the likes of Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg. He’s a growing lad and he’s certainly got the frame. Shifting between weights happens a lot over in the US. The less said about how that happens, the better!
Regardless of which division, I’m very confident I’ll get Paul his world title chance this year. He lives the life and is a pleasure to be associated with. He’s got a great chance of making it big.”