Ellesmere Port star Paul Butler aims to become a double champion on Friday 8th March at the Liverpool Olympia when he challenges for the Commonwealth Super-Flyweight Championship, live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546).
Butler, who won the British title last November defeating John Donnelly in the opening round with a crushing body shot, must now face the tough Nigerian Yaqub Karim who holds the belt.
The 24-year-old has marked himself as one of the best young fighters to watch out for in Britain with eye-catching performances that have thrilled fans.
Unbeaten in nine fights with four KO's, Butler is eager to put on another devastating show, but has promised not to be careless against the teak tough Karim.
Big-hitting Karim has stopped seven out of his 10 wins, with only two losses and a draw. He won the title in August in 2011 with an eighth round stoppage of Cobbina Johnson.
"After winning my last fight against Donnelly in the first round the temptation is to go out all guns blazing and try to take Karim out," Said Butler.
"But he’s the champion and he deserves respect, I’m expecting a hard fight against him, he’s a tough African and he won’t be coming over here to just give up his title without a fight,”
“The opportunity to become a double champion by winning the British and Commonwealth belts in successive fights is a big motivator for me and I’ll be looking to do Ellesmere Port proud on the night,”
“The title fights are coming in fast now and it’s tempting to look too far ahead, but I’m focused on Karim and beating him before talking about the next step.”
Butler’s trainer Anthony Farnell, the former WBU World Middleweight Champion, is excited by his protege’s development but has urged caution against Karim.
He said, “This is a hard fight for Paul. African fighters are tough warriors, just like the Mexicans, so this will be a great learning fight for him as he heads towards world level in the next 12-18 months. Paul’s skills are improving everyday and his power week-by-week, I’m pleased how he’s coming along and I’m confident in the next few fights he’ll be the best in Europe.”
Butler v Karim headlines a quality packed that features Liverpool ace Stephen Smith in a six round contest; undefeated Liverpool light-middleweight Joe Selkirk; 2010 Commonwealth Games Champion Callum Johnson from Lincoln, plus Ellesmere Port talent Matthew Fagan in his second professional fight. Two of Wales’ best unbeaten prospects, super-featherweight Craig Evans from Blackwood and light-welterweight Lewis Rees from Tonypandy both feature on the undercard.
Tickets priced at £30, £40 and £60 are available from Eventim on 0844 249 1000 or eventim.co.uk
Butler v Karim is live and exclusive on The Home of Champions BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546). Join at www.boxnation.com
SAUNDERS AND HALL CLASH AT YORK HALL
Big-hitters Billy Joe Saunders and Matthew Hall will clash on Thursday 21st March at the York Hall, Bethnal Green, with Saunders’ British and Commonwealth Middleweight titles on the line, live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546).
Saunders had a successful 2012 picking up the Commonwealth crown with a stunning first round win over Tony Hill and making defences against Bradley Pryce and Jarrod Fletcher, before ending the year with a points win over Nick Blackwell to land the British title.
This year is set to be a big one for the 23-year-old when he looks to make the Lonsdale belt his own property with three defences and target the European title to hold the big three before moving to a world title shot.
The Hatfield traveller, a Beijing Olympian, has racked up a perfect 16-0 record since turning professional in 2009 and has specialised in explosive early finishes with all ten of his knockouts coming within two rounds.
Against Hall he also meets experience with the 28-year-old having won the Commonwealth Light-Middleweight title in 2009 and challenging for British and European titles in his 31 fights.
He’s pulled off upsets in the past, the most recent was a points win over the previously unbeaten Scottish prospect Kris Carslaw in Motherwell in November 2011.
Last year he took Sam Webb and Gary O’Sullivan the distance in twelve-rounders, just losing out on points decisions, before closing the year with a points win over Lee Noble in Manchester on the Freddie Flintoff undercard.
But Hall’s power-punching is still a threat with 16 of his 25 wins ending in KO and 12 of those were inside three rounds.
Saunders is looking forward to the test and predicts a battle against his Manchester rival.
“Hall is still one of the danger men in the division and can still whack,” Said Saunders.
“He derailed Carslaw who was unbeaten and he’ll be looking to do the same to me which puts the pressure on me, but I love it because the pressure makes me perform better and better,”
“We’re both big punchers, he can bang and so can I, the difference is will his chin be able to stand up to my big punches, we’ll find out on the night,”
“He’s strong, comes forward and constantly throwing plenty of punches so I’ve got to make sure I not get careless against him,”
“I believe that I’m leagues above Hall, though, and it will show on the night.”
Chief support on the card sees Penge welterweight Bradley Skeete make the first defence of his Southern Area title against Basingstoke’s Darryl Still. Skeete won the title in December when he stopped South London rival Chas Symonds in four rounds at the ExCeL London.
Tony Conquest’s rematch with WBO International Cruiserweight Champion Neil Dawson, which was due to take place at Wembley Arena on Saturday 16th March, will now take place on this show. Conquest suffered a shock first round loss to big-hitting Dawson in December at the ExCeL and will be out for revenge.
Also featuring on the undercard is some of Britain’s most talented young fighters including unbeaten Canning Town lightweight talent Billy Morgan; Cheshunt’s undefeated super-flyweight prospect Charlie Hoy; middleweight Tom Baker from Chingford and super-middleweight John Dignum from Bowers Gifford.
Finally, amateur star Simon Vallily from Middlesborough makes his professional debut in a four round cruiserweight contest. Vallily won heavyweight gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi and in the previous year he captured the ABA Super-Heavyweight title.
Tickets priced at £40 and £60 are available from Frank Warren Promotions Box Office on 01992 550 888.
Saunders v Hall is live and exclusive on The Home of Champions BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546). Join at www.boxnation.com
MARTIN MURRAY: “ARGENTINA TRIP DOESN’T DAUNT ME”
MARTIN MURRAY insists he holds no fear of going into the lion’s den against Sergio Martinez this spring.
The unbeaten St Helens man will face the planet’s best middleweight in front of almost 50,000 fans at the Estadio José Amalfitani in Buenos Aires, Argentina on April 27.
And he knows few will be cheering him on.
“It’s not daunting me at all. The crowd is going to be very hostile but I’m always in the zone when I enter the ring so it makes no difference what people are doing around me,” he said.
“I’ll just be focused on going in there and doing my job.
“Naturally they’ll be some nerves before the fight, but that’s a good thing. I always feel some nerves, I like them and I perform off of them.”
Murray believes his previous performances in the spotlight have prepared him perfectly for fighting in front of such a large audience.
In late 2011 he travelled to Germany and held then WBA champion Felix Sturm to a draw and last November he impressed in front of a bumper crowd when halting Jorge Navarro on the undercard of Ricky Hatton’s massive return to the ring.
“Those fight have been good preparation for me,” the 30-year-old said. “Having that one in Germany and then boxing at the MEN Arena showed I can perform in front of a big audience.
“If I’d have just been boxing in leisure centres, going into a big stadium could make me like a rabbit in headlights, but I know I always perform well on the big stage.”
He added: “Martinez is easily the best middleweight in the world so obviously I’ll need to raise my game to beat him but myself and my team know that’s something we’re very capable of doing.”