The sport’s newest promotional outfit has claimed the rights to a significant title fight.
Hopefully, history will not repeat itself beyond the outcome of a purse bid hearing held Thursday, where upstart outfit Probellum emerged—as the session's lone bidder—to promote the ordered fight between WBO bantamweight titlist John Riel Casimero and mandatory challenger Paul Butler.
Probellum won with a submission of $105,000, just above the minimum $100,000 bid requirement set by the WBO. The new company—represented at the purse bid by local promoter Peter Rivera—aims to present the bout as part of a December 11 event to be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates or in Liverpool, England. Casimero is entitled to 75% of the winning bid ($78,750) as the defending champion, while Butler is due the remaining 25% ($26,250) as the mandatory challenger.
The session was held after representatives for the two sides—TGB Promotions’ Tom Brown for Casimero, and Lee Eaton of MTK Global for Butler—were unable to reach a deal. The fight was ordered September 22, though with Eaton requesting the matter head straight to purse bid.
Philippines’ Casimero (31-4, 21KOs) has held the WBO bantamweight title since a third-round knockout of Zolani Tete in November 2019. Two title defenses have followed his third divisional crown—a third-round knockout of unbeaten Duke Micah last September and a twelve-round decision win over long-reigning lineal junior featherweight titlist and current bantamweight contender Guillermo Rigondeaux this past August in Carson, California.
The fight with Rigondeaux was scheduled earlier this spring, only for hopes of replacing the fight with a unification bout versus countryman Nonito Donaire (41-6, 27KOs) shortly after the Fil-Am superstar captured the WBC title. The two initially agreed to terms for an August 14 clash, only for Donaire to remove himself from the mix due to a breakdown in drug testing procedures along with claims of misogynistic comments directed at wife/manager/trainer Rachel Donaire from Casimero’s camp.
Donaire was left without a fight, while Casimero proceeded with the originally scheduled clash with Rigondeaux which he won in a painfully dull affair. The two have since settled their differences on a personal level after Casimero offered an open apology. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to work its way into a new deal between bantamweight titlists, both of whom are pressed with mandatory title defenses as Donaire is due to next face countryman Reymart Gaballo.
Butler (33-2, 15KOs) briefly held the IBF bantamweight title in 2014 before vacating in pursuit of a shot at a junior bantamweight title. The Cheshire, England native came up short in a March 2015 bid versus Tete who held the IBF 115-pound title at the time. Nine wins followed before dropping a twelve-round decision to then-unbeaten Emmanuel Rodriguez in their May 2018 vacant IBF bantamweight title fight.
Butler, 32, has since won his last seven starts. In his most recent appearance, Butler claimed a ten-round decision over Willibaldo Garcia this past June in Bolton, England. The victory positioned him as the number-one contender to Casimero’s crown.
Thursday’s outcome draws parallel to Triller Fight Club emerging from nowhere to claim the right to the WBA/IBF/WBO lightweight title fight between Teofimo Lopez and George Kambosos via purse bid win earlier this year. The fight was rescheduled no fewer than five times before the IBF determined Triller—who bid $6,018,000—to be in default of the purse bid terms, with the fight now in the hands of Matchroom Boxing.
Given the winning amount for this fight, it’s doubtful that Probellum—headed by longtime boxing promoter Richard Schaefer—will fall down that same hole. If anything, the question is whether the principle parties will proceed with the fight given the modest payday each stand to make.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox