By Terence Dooley
Liverpool’s Paul Butler (26-1, 14 KOs) has had to KO a few football commitments to ensure that he is focussed and at his best for his fight against Puerto Rico-based Emmanuel Rodriguez (17-0, 12 early) for the vacant IBF World bantamweight title at the O2 Arena on Saturday night.
The former IBF holder plays for and manages a Sunday league team, Sutton Athletic, and would have liked to have travelled to Rome to watch Liverpool’s Champions League semi-final against Roma, but football has taken a backseat recently as he wants to be at 100% for his latest world title opportunity.
Butler-Rodriguez is the chief supporting bout to Tony Bellew’s rematch against David Haye, the 29-year-old will hope to make it a memorable night for the city of Liverpool by winning the world title before settling down to watch his fellow Scouser try repeat the trick of beating his London-based rival.
“I'm devastated at not being able to play because I've got two people right on my heels for the golden boot,” he said when speaking to the Liverpool Echo about his decision to temporarily hang up his boots.
“There's a young lad called Connor Doyle, whose dad, Maurice, used to play for QPR and Millwall, and still plays for us now, and my strike partner Peter Barnett, so I'm not happy.”
He added: “I look forward to my football because that's my break from boxing. I buzz off the thought that I've got games on a Saturday and a Sunday. Joe Gallagher, my trainer, doesn't particularly like it because I come in on a Monday aching.”
“It's a massive bill and the whole reason why I came over to Eddie Hearn was to be involved in big shows like this. It will be a tough fight. We've watched a lot of him (Rodriquez) but the more I watch of him the more flaws I see in him. He's a very talented kid, if you let him what you do, and I'm going to have be switched on for 12 rounds, but I was always going to take this fight.
“Ryan Burnett didn't fancy it but I fancy the job and believe I can do the job, and if I can come through as champion, I'll bring them all on. I'll win the world title, and then I'll travel out to Kiev (for the CL Final). That'd be the dream."
Butler lost to Zolani Tete in March 2015, losing his IBF World Super flyweight belt in the process, but is 9-0 since then with six stoppages and his confidence will be high. Rodriguez, though, will be equally confident and the 25-year-old is coming off a two-fight stoppage win streak going into his first major title fight.
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