By Elliot Foster
PAUL BUTLER has finally secured a shot at another world title.
The Ellesmere Port bantamweight will fight Emmanuel Rodriguez next month for the vacant IBF world title.
Butler, a former holder of the crown, boxed Zolani Tete for the super-flyweight version of the global honour back in March 2015, suffering his only defeat to date as a professional.
But ‘The Baby Faced Assassin’, 29, will come up against the Puerto Rican, for the belt left behind by Belfast’s Ryan Burnett recently, on May 5.
“I’m made up it’s finally been confirmed,” Butler, who will form part of the supporting cast to Tony Bellew’s heavyweight grudge rematch against David Haye, at the O2 Arena in London, told Boxing Scene.
“It’s been a nightmare and I feel like I’ve been treading water for far too long, but we’re here and we’ve got our shot now.”
Butler was expecting to fight for the WBA ‘regular’ title against Jamie McDonnell after winning an official eliminator against former rival Stuart Hall at the ECHO Arena back in September, but the Doncaster man opted to instead travel to Japan on May 25 to face the fearsome Naoya Inoue.
“I can’t really blame Jamie [for not fighting me], because as fighters we are in the game not only for the belts and the success but also to make ourselves and our families secure.
“I spoke with Jamie after my last fight and he said that the money wasn’t right for him to box me, which I understood. If the shoe was on the other foot and I was paid well for travelling to defend my belt, I would do it.”
Rodriguez, who has a ledger of 17 fights –– all wins –– with 12 early, has only boxed outside of his homeland.
Butler described the former WBC Latino champion as having had everything his own way and “very much like Miguel Cotto”.
Ahead of the Sky Sports Box Office-aired clash, the 29-year-old added: “I’ve had a look at him, I’ve had a look at his record but I’ve also gone through his record to see who he’s boxed. His record has been made to make him look good but he is good and we know he is.
“He’s very left-hook happy when it comes to body shots and I like that shot too, so at some point we’re going to meet head-on and I’m convinced it’s going to be one hell of a fight.
“[My coach] Joe [Gallagher] has got me ready for this because I’ve known I would be fighting Rodriguez. We’ve had all the right sparring in and it’s not like it’s just been sprung upon us. It was just a matter of where and when.
“And now we know that, I’ve just got to go out there, do the job and win the fight to become world champion again.”