By Shaun Brown
Stuart Hall and Paul Butler will provide the second ‘Battle of Britain’ for fight fans this Sat night just one week after the Carl Froch-George Groves rivalry ended with a brutal knockout for the champion.
Darlington’s Hall 16-2-2 (7) will be putting his IBF Bantamweight title on the line against Butler 15-0 (8) at Newcastle’s 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 ‘Scene 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: How’s your training camp been for the Stuart Hall fight?
Butler: It’s been perfect. We know what we’re getting with Stuey Hall. As everyone knows we’ve sparred plenty before so it’s 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 I’ve got footage of our spar as well and he hasn’t unfortunately. We know what we’re gonna get with Stuey Hall on the night. He doesn’t give many surprises, he’s one-dimensional and he’ll come to fight but class always prevails and that’s 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 night’s work or not?
Butler: It’ll 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 isn’t going to have 10lb on me. Everyone’s banging on about him being a bantamweight and me being a super flyweight. I’m 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 wasn’t 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 Hall’s in for a real shock when he gets in the ring with me. If he thinks he’s going to walk through me he’s not. The work I’m putting in the gym and with my strength and conditioning, he’s definitely in for a surprise.
BoxingScene: Is Hall someone you rate or not?
Butler: I don’t think he’s world level, not being disrespectful to him. I think he’s 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 he’s fighting as you seen against Malinga. A lot of people would’ve 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. We’re gonna be throwing the kitchen sink at him but if you throw it to him at the head then you’re in for a long, long night. You work Stuart to the body because he’s got a good chin and he’ll stand there all night in front of you but I think a good body puncher takes him out of there and that’s the plan.
BoxingScene: If this fight with Hall hadn’t happened would you have still fought at bantamweight in your next fight?
Butler: No, I’d 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 ‘If Stuey Hall wins the world title would you fancy moving up and challenging for the world title?’ My answer was ‘Of course!’ We know Stuey well and we’d 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 I’ve prepared to step up to bantamweight, we’ve had the ball in motion since then. I’ve been at the gym strength and conditioning and I’ve bulked up in the right places. We’re 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. It’s took me a long time to bulk up. You can see my body shape’s changed. It’s 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 didn’t really land much but when he did land he didn’t seem to shake him up. I think this extra 3lbs will help me massively. I think me moving up is worse for Stuey because I’ll 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, he’s been killing his body to make bantamweight and it’s 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 it’ll be tough. It’s just if he’ll take the body shots or not. He’d done an interview about a month ago saying: ‘When we sparred he tried the left hook a few times to the body.’ It landed and I hit him well. So he’s telling me I can hurt him with 14oz gloves on. I’ll break him in two if I catch him with 8oz gloves on. I’ll bust him up and he honestly won’t 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. I’ve 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, I’ve snapped out of it now. I know I can hurt him, he can’t hurt me. I know that was 14oz gloves on but I’ve got a good gauge of his power.
BoxingScene: Before the fight was signed there didn’t appear to be any bad blood between you but that’s 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 I’m saying is the truth. I don’t think Malinga would be in the top four British bantamweights because I think Haskins would beat him, McDonnell would beat him, Hall’s beat him and I’d beat him as well. Is Malinga a great fighter? I don’t think so. I told him I’d beat everyone on his record because he called all my opponents ‘bums’. He thinks I’m being disrespectful, I’m just telling the truth. I think he’s limited but he’s got bags of heart and determination. He won’t beat me for speed, movement, he can’t out box me, he can’t go on the back foot and counter and he can’t come forward and bully me because it just won’t work. I think he’s just a bit cheesed off that I’m not giving him no credit. I’m not gonna give him any credit, he’s world champion and I want to take his title.
BoxingScene: In some respects that’s similar to how Carl Froch felt about George Groves because the challenger wasn’t 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. I’m now his opponent. I’m not gonna give him any credit and say he’s good at this and that. But we’ll find out on Sat. I’ve got massive respect for him but it’ll all go out the window on Sat.
BoxingScene: Fighting in Newcastle, you’ll have your fans but it’ll be a fairly pro-Hall crowd. Is that something that you’ll just take in your stride?
Butler: Yeah definitely. I’m made up its in Newcastle. I love walking into the lions den and hearing the boos. I’ve got a lot of fans going up, I’ve sold like 600 tickets so there’s going to be a lot of people from the ‘Port there and I think they’ll be as loud as Stuey’s fans. The fans are in for a real good fight and they’ll get their money’s worth.
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