By John MacDonald
Paul Butler 16-0 (8) claimed the IBF bantamweight title with a hard fought win over Stuart Hall 16-2-2 (7) last Sat night. The Ellesmere Port fighter raced to an early lead on the cards but appeared to struggle with the strength of his naturally bigger opponent as the fight went on. Speculation began directly after the final bell that the new champion’s future may lie in the super flyweight division.
The vacant IBF 115lbs title will be contested between number one contender Zolani Tete 18-3 (16) of South Africa and the number three ranked Teiru Kinoshita 13-0-1 (3) of Japan on July 18, in the former’s homeland.
If Butler were to vacate his title and move down in weight he would not be made the mandatory challenger, according to IBF Championships Chairman, Lindsey Tucker.
“Not with the IBF, with one of those other organizations he [Butler] might but with the IBF he’ll get in line and work his way to the front just like everybody else.” Tucker told Boxing Scene.
“We’ve got a fight for the vacant title and once that’s over we’ll do an eliminator to determine the new mandatory challenger for that title.”
If Butler were to go the mandatory route, he have to wait up to a year to get his shot at the title. However, he will receive a top 15 ranking with the sanctioning body if he were to move back to super flyweight and Tucker confirmed that he would be eligible as a voluntary challenger if a deal could be reached with the new champion.
“There is nothing to stop the new champion fighting anyone in the top 15 as an optional defense.”
If the “Baby Faced Assassin” is to remain at bantamweight he will likely have to face Randy Caballero 21-0 (13) in a mandatory defence. Caballero was Stuart Hall’s mandatory challenger but Hall was granted an exemption to face Butler on the condition that whoever won would face Caballero next.