By Kevin Francis, courtesy of The Daily Star
RACING fan Paul Butler could have been a jockey but chose the boxing ring instead of the parade ring.
And preparing to challenge Nigerian Yaqub Kareem for the Commonwealth super-flyweight title at the Liverpool Olympia next Friday, he says he made the right decision.
Butler’s latest bout comes hot on the heels of his stunning KO of Anwar Alfadli last month, which took his professional record to 10 straight wins.
But it could all have been so different if the Ellesmere Port battler had decided to wear racing silks instead of boxing shorts.
Butler, 24, said: “I know with my size and weight that I could have been a jockey and I did think about it on a number of occasions.
“The two sports are quite similar, with all the training and weight-making involved.
“But, in all honesty, I don’t think I could have controlled a thoroughbred horse as they are pretty powerful animals. I even have trouble taking my dog for a walk!
“They call racing the sport of kings but I will eventually be the king of the sport I have chosen, believe me!”
The British champ has won three of his last four bouts by KO and the way in which he disposed of Alfadli has given him a massive boost in confidence.
He said: “It was one of the best punches I’ve thrown in my career and when it landed, I knew it was game over for Alfadli.
“My confidence is sky-high at the moment and I know that Kareem is going to be a lot tougher, but I want that Commonwealth title to become a double champion.
“My power is definitely improving with every fight, but I’m not going to be relying just on power to win fights.
“In addition to that power, I’ve got good skills and I’m getting better and better in the gym and with every fight.”
Butler’s trainer Anthony Farnell, the former WBU world middleweight champion, is excited by his charge’s development but has urged caution against Kareem.
He said: “This is a hard fight for Paul. African fighters are tough warriors, just like Mexicans.
“So this will be a great learning fight for him as he heads towards world level within the next year to 18 months.
“Paul’s skills are improving every day and his power increases week by week. I’m pleased by how he’s coming along.
“I’m confident in the next few fights he’ll be the best fighter in Europe. I have absolutely no doubt about that at all.”
Butler v Kareem will be live on BoxNation (Sky 437, Virgin 546). See www.boxnation.com