By Shaun Brown
Stuart Hall and Paul Butler will provide the second ĎBattle of Britainí for fight fans this Sat night just one week after the Carl Froch-George Groves rivalry ended with a brutal knockout for the champion.
Darlingtonís Hall 16-2-2 (7) will be putting his IBF Bantamweight title on the line against Butler 15-0 (8) at Newcastleís Metro Radio Arena live on Boxnation. The challenger steps up a weight division after a successful stint at super flyweight which saw the Ellesmere Port fighter win the British and Commonwealth titles. For the champion this will be his second title defence after his Cinderella story began with a convincing points decision win over Vusi Malinga in Leeds last December just four days before Christmas.† After an unsatisfactory technical draw to conclude his first defence against Martin Ward in March, 34-year-old Hall is aiming to put the 25-year-old Butler in his place in front of his local supporters after some heated verbal exchanges between the two recently.
An interview with Hall will be on ĎScene later this week but first we caught up with the challenger to discuss his preparations for his first world title shot, his thoughts on the champion and the fight itself.
BoxingScene: Howís your training camp been for the Stuart Hall fight?
Butler: Itís been perfect. We know what weíre getting with Stuey Hall. As everyone knows weíve sparred plenty before so itís just about looking at his previous fights. Not so much Malinga and Ward, you can look further back than that and see how Lee Haskins dealt with him, the way Jamie McDonnell dealt with him and Iíve got footage of our spar as well and he hasnít unfortunately. We know what weíre gonna get with Stuey Hall on the night. He doesnít give many surprises, heís one-dimensional and heíll come to fight but class always prevails and thatís what I believe will happen on the Sat.
BoxingScene: Do you see Hall as your biggest test so far and are you expecting a hard nightís work or not?
Butler: Itíll be as hard as I make it. I honestly believe that. I think Ashley Sexton would give him a good fight. I boxed Ashley two years ago (W PTS10) and I thought I dealt with him pretty well. He had a weight advantage on the night, he had 10lbs on me.
Stuey Hall isnít going to have 10lb on me. Everyoneís banging on about him being a bantamweight and me being a super flyweight. Iím a very good bantamweight, sometimes the extra 3lbs makes you a lot better fighter and I think l looked good in my last performance (W KO4 vs. Oreste Bernabe Nieva). I know the kid wasnít up to much but my hand speed and power was there and I was sitting down on my shots. I feel a lot better at bantamweight. I think Hallís in for a real shock when he gets in the ring with me. If he thinks heís going to walk through me heís not. The work Iím putting in the gym and with my strength and conditioning, heís definitely in for a surprise.
BoxingScene: Is Hall someone you rate or not?
Butler: I donít think heís world level, not being disrespectful to him. I think heís a good British/European standard fighter that can mix it with the best fighters out there because of his pure grit and determination and he does want to win. He hates losing at anything, you can tell that when heís fighting as you seen against Malinga. A lot of people wouldíve spewed it after six or seven rounds and he was tired himself but he bit down on the gumshield and got through the next four-five rounds so fair dos to him. Weíre gonna be throwing the kitchen sink at him but if you throw it to him at the head then youíre in for a long, long night. You work Stuart to the body because heís got a good chin and heíll stand there all night in front of you but I think a good body puncher takes him out of there and thatís the plan.
BoxingScene: If this fight with Hall hadnít happened would you have still fought at bantamweight in your next fight?
Butler: No, Iíd have stayed at super flyweight. We spoke about this in November; me and [promoter] Frank [Warren] had a meeting before my December fight for the WBO Inter-Continental. Frank said ĎIf Stuey Hall wins the world title would you fancy moving up and challenging for the world title?í My answer was ĎOf course!í We know Stuey well and weíd be confident of taking the title off him if he was to win it. And Dec 21 he goes out and wins it. Since then Iíve prepared to step up to bantamweight, weíve had the ball in motion since then. Iíve been at the gym strength and conditioning and Iíve bulked up in the right places. Weíre 100% ready.
BoxingScene: Speaking of the extra 3lbs, anyone could put that on but has it been a big ask for you and difficult to adapt to as well?
Butler: Yeah definitely. Itís took me a long time to bulk up. You can see my body shapeís changed. Itís pretty much the same situation as Amir Khan moving up to 147. He looked a different animal on the scales against Luis Collazo. He looked in great shape, everyone was questioning if his chin would be as good and it was. Collazo didnít really land much but when he did land he didnít seem to shake him up. I think this extra 3lbs will help me massively. I think me moving up is worse for Stuey because Iíll have a lot more in the tank than him. I know for a fact it kills him to make the weight. I remember watching him as an amateur and he was doing bantamweight then. I was like 15/16, heís been killing his body to make bantamweight and itís not going to be no different on Sat.
BoxingScene: So do you think this fight will suit you better over the long distance or do you not see it going that long?
Butler: I honestly think I can stop him but itíll be tough. Itís just if heíll take the body shots or not. Heíd done an interview about a month ago saying: ĎWhen we sparred he tried the left hook a few times to the body.í It landed and I hit him well. So heís telling me I can hurt him with 14oz gloves on. Iíll break him in two if I catch him with 8oz gloves on. Iíll bust him up and he honestly wonít get up from the canvas if I catch him to the body. He knows that and I know that. He knows I can hurt him. Iíve been getting his mates on Twitter saying he punches harder than [Leo] Santa Cruz because Malinga said so! I had my hands down at my hips and he hit me clean on the chin [when we sparred] because I used to have a bad habit of letting people hit me on the chin to show how macho I was, Iíve snapped out of it now. I know I can hurt him, he canít hurt me. I know that was 14oz gloves on but Iíve got a good gauge of his power.
BoxingScene: Before the fight was signed there didnít appear to be any bad blood between you but thatís developed since it was made. Is that pre-fight build-up or is there something else to it?
Butler: No. I respect him but all Iím saying is the truth. I donít think Malinga would be in the top four British bantamweights because I think Haskins would beat him, McDonnell would beat him, Hallís beat him and Iíd beat him as well. Is Malinga a great fighter? I donít think so. I told him Iíd beat everyone on his record because he called all my opponents Ďbumsí. He thinks Iím being disrespectful, Iím just telling the truth. I think heís limited but heís got bags of heart and determination. He wonít beat me for speed, movement, he canít out box me, he canít go on the back foot and counter and he canít come forward and bully me because it just wonít work. I think heís just a bit cheesed off that Iím not giving him no credit. Iím not gonna give him any credit, heís world champion and I want to take his title.
BoxingScene: In some respects thatís similar to how Carl Froch felt about George Groves because the challenger wasnít giving him the credit he thought he should get.
Butler: Yeah, but I stood there and cheered him on against Malinga and Martin Ward. I predicted him to win both those fights and he did and he got his credit then. Iím now his opponent. Iím not gonna give him any credit and say heís good at this and that. But weíll find out on Sat. Iíve got massive respect for him but itíll all go out the window on Sat.
BoxingScene: Fighting in Newcastle, youíll have your fans but itíll be a fairly pro-Hall crowd. Is that something that youíll just take in your stride?
Butler: Yeah definitely. Iím made up its in Newcastle. I love walking into the lions den and hearing the boos. Iíve got a lot of fans going up, Iíve sold like 600 tickets so thereís going to be a lot of people from the ĎPort there and I think theyíll be as loud as Stueyís fans. The fans are in for a real good fight and theyíll get their moneyís worth.
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